Actually, I'm a fresh CS graduate, who wants to build a system for his dad's road transport business.

However, the issue is, whenever I go to ask to him about:

  • who are the people involved in his business?
  • what's their routine work?
  • or how their business actually works?

... then he avoids my questions, and says, "Just give me a system by utilizing your knowledge, to ease my transporting business, and rest all you think."

So, I had brainstormed about it, but I still feel the need of my dad's point of view, as he is actually in that business.

Hence: How can I get business requirements from him ?


5 Answers 5


Ask him what his biggest problem is that he thinks software or technology might be able to solve, and what would change if you solved it.

There's your requirements, in a nutshell. For the rest, don't make your dad the only point of contact. What existing software does he use? Do you know his drivers? His secretary? His accountant? You can also ask them for help. As much as possible, save your dad's time for the "expert" questions that only he can answer. Look for any existing open-source code which might help.

After that, think about where your biggest unknowns are. Those are the places you're most likely to get things wrong. Create a prototype as Tiago suggests, then make sure you show him the places where you're wrong, and ask what he got wrong.

If he doesn't give you any feedback, tell him you're done and ask him to use the software until he's able to tell you otherwise. If he still doesn't use the software, he wasn't really interested in it in the first place. That sometimes happens, especially if you're doing it for free (not an assumption but a possibility).


You have bigger issues and risks than just gathering requirements. A new system in any organization means a transformation from the way they currently do business to the new way. The change all by itself is a source of major angst and change resistance of any organization, even of the project is moving along well. One of the major critical success factors in organization change management (OCM) is an engaged sponsor, as indicated by level of participation, commitment of resources (human, funds, space, etc.), and other favorable behaviors.

Gathering requirements is the beginning of it all and will likely dictate the rest of the project. If your dad is exhibiting this behavior now, it will likely only get worse, and then get exacerbated when your best assumptions of what is best for the business are wrong.

Your solution is not to find ways to arrive at getting your requirements. You need to fix the underlying issue first because this will wreak havoc on the rest of your project.

You need to talk about sponsorship with your dad, what it means, the commitment, follow-through, etc. He needs to understand what it means to charter a project, to develop the scope statement, to put in place a PM and a dedicated team, to fund it, to stand behind it, etc.

On your side, you need to learn the fundamentals of OCM.


Draw a prototype.

If you have - at least - a small comprehension of his needs, I'd suggest you to draw a prototype and have sessions with your client on a timely basis. This way, you'll have at least a starting point to discuss with him about expectations and requirements.

As a fresh CS graduate you'd expect to fulfill all that software engineering documentation we learn in our classes; however, in the real world, our clients aren't as available as we'd expect to.

So, put down your ideas in a draft prototype and present to him. Sometimes, the art of getting business requirement is a kind of mixed with client's mind reading.


who is going to use it? Your dad or does he have employees? If there is another potential user find out what they do for their job, how they doe it, etc.

Othewise as suggested by the others... find out what problem he is trying to solve. Start with a small piece and build a prototype.

More importantly just build a couple of non functional screens... if you father is being the classic "I'm too busy" it probably means he has a very poor grasp of what he needs and/or how to express it. So visuals tend to help that sort of person.


I think your problem is your scope is too broad. Narrow to a specific pain point the business has and solves that. When you tell people, "Hey, you know this thing that's really annoying and time consuming? I'm going to make that easier." they will be HAPPY to talk with you and help you.

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