Suggestions from the Trenches

Besides a good laptop or tablet PC, here’s a list of stuff I use with most of my gigs. I’ll keep adding ideas, so check-in occasionally.

1. Dictaphone – I use this when interviewing stakeholder or domain experts. I also use it capture initial reactions from department heads and business owners when the system is under their review. This is particularly useful if the stake-holder’s, business manager’s or owner’s first language is not English.
2. PDA with Keyboard – not only do I use this to listen to recorded books during long commutes, but it is also great for capturing requirements in very small spaces, or in situations where your client requires you to use their computers. It’s easier to carry around and booting-up goes so fast, you never hold-up a meeting.
3. UML modeling tools such as Visio or an open source solution like Dia. This is so obvious that I almost didn’t mention it, but here it is anyway.
4. If you can’t use your laptop with the system your clients gives you, and if you have a video card that accommodates two monitors, try to talk the infrastructure folks into two monitors. Two monitors are a godsend. You can park a source document on one monitor and create your Workflow diagrams or Use Cases in the other. It also makes you look real efficient when an executive officer happens to scroll by.

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