Defining the solution at the highest level of abstraction is akin to problem solving. I have used parts of the problem-solving model to get this high-level solution definition for years. It works and it is discussed here.
Many organizations have a tendency to exclude the computer folks from the early efforts to define the solution. It is certainly true that the problem is first a business problem to be defined and only then is it a technology problem to be solved. However, such an approach overlooks the likelihood that synergy can result from integrating the problem definition from both perspectives simultaneously. A better solution will always follow from the collaborative efforts of the business side and the technology side.
Exactly what is the problem? The more specific we can be in making this definition, the better off we will be in later parts of the project. It is too easy to stray from the problem. Scope creep becomes our worst enemy. A definition that is equivalent to solving world hunger won’t work either. That leads to a very long project and opens the possibility of changes in the business climate that lead to scope changes in the project. Perhaps the strategy is to narrow the problem or at least narrow what you are going to do about the problem. It isn’t necessary to solve the entire problem in one project. Oftentimes, a sequence of dependent projects works better than one giant project.
For the PDQ case study, the problem ...