Make Better Investments with Better Requirements

Dan Hughes
December 8, 2019

Based in Rheems, Pennsylvania, The Wenger Group™ (Wenger) is a comprehensive Agricultural Company offering Feed, Ingredients, Eggs and Egg Marketing, Flock Services, and Pullet Growing. The Wenger Group™ includes Wenger Feeds, Nutrify, and Dutchland Farms.

Transportation is a core component of the Wenger business model. Wenger operates a large fleet within the Feed Delivery and Ingredient Business Units, where efficient and cost-effective fleet maintenance is critical for success. To enable efficiency, the organization had previously attempted to modernize, but early in the implementation realized that better requirements identifying their specific business needs would result in a higher likelihood of success. That's when they turned to Wittij Consulting (Wittij) to assist them with both determining an optimized version of their fleet management processes and documenting the requirements for a best-fit technical solution.

How did Wittij Consulting help?

Wittij applied its solution design methodology to rapidly understand Wenger's Fleet Management business. Wittij facilitated a series of workshops to elicit and document the current processes, which then served as a basis to design the future state process.  In those workshops, a key focus of discussion was determining where processes should align with standard industry practices and where Wenger had unique business needs.

Once Wittij and Wenger defined the future state process, Wittij drafted user stories and screen mockups to bring the desired solution to life and drive more detailed discussions to ferret out and document the necessary functional requirements.

Wittij Consulting Solution Design Methodology: Requirements Process

Better Requirements

What is unique about the Wittij Consulting Process?

  1. It is iterative and transparent. The client is part of the entire Wittij process, from ugly early drafts to final polished deliverables. We have learned that this is the most rapid path to a clear and comprehensive deliverable. More transparency means more feedback which leads to better requirements!
  2. It is engaging. Wittij structures quick, efficient workshops for a high level of engagement: the client is guided through the process each step of the way. Wittij owns facilitating and documenting, and the client provides the knowledge. One manager left one of our sessions, saying, "I'm going to steal this approach and use it in my next meeting." Steal away! It's on our web site: we "make our expertise, your expertise."
  3. It rightsizes both the process and the documentation. We don't address everything at the same level of detail. If something is explained well with a sentence, that's what it gets. If something requires more, it gets more: a diagram or table or mockup or whatever is most appropriate to convey the information efficiently. Wittij assesses risk and complexity to analyze and document only what is essential.
  4. It calibrates to the right level of detail. We've all heard the adage "the devil is in the details;" it couldn't be more accurate than when specifying a software solution. You don't want to waste time getting into the weeds, but if you stay too high level, you will spend a lot of time and money implementing the wrong solution for your business! The trick is to remain high level except where you need more details to ensure clarity and understanding. The Wittij team has decades of experience finding those sweet spots.

How did it go?

"We had never seen anything like this. I was really happy with the business engagement resulting from this initiative. Dan [the Wittij lead for this engagement] really knows how to facilitate a requirement workshop. Our business team was impressed with how quickly he understood Wenger's business, and his fresh perspective often uncovered issues they had not yet contemplated."

Nick Szmyd, CIO of Wenger

What does Wittij recommend for others facing a significant investment in a technology solution? Well, ideally, you would contact us, and we'd help you save lots of money in the long run. But barring that, here are a few tips!

  • Automate the right process. Time spent optimizing your processes before investing in automating them is well worth it.
  • Avoid jargon. Your requirements should be understandable by someone new to your business and your company.
  • Go deep enough. If you remain too high level in your thinking and documenting, you will have difficulty determining how different solution options compare.
  • Don't forget the data. While it seems like a detail that can wait for later, identifying the critical data handled by your process (automated or not) can often uncover areas of improvement or confusion.

There you have it: Your vision. Our expertise.

Dan is the founder of Wittij Consulting. Prior to founding Wittij, he spent a decade in software development before moving into IT architecture, where he created an Open Group recognized architecture method and led delivery of all services for a company specializing in enterprise and solution architecture for 15 years. He is an energetic, thoughtful leader with an ability to engage and motivate people, and has been called a “force multiplier” for his ability to not only deliver great value, but also increase the value and capability of the people around him. Dan is a strong facilitator, able to understand and resolve complex disagreements with diplomacy. He comprehends and communicates clearly both at the detail level and the boardroom summary level to both business and technical audiences. His knowledge of enterprise techniques and technologies is broad and deep, and includes industry expertise in manufacturing, financial services, banking, health care, insurance, regulatory compliance, and NGOs.
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