Gathering and managing requirements is one of the most critical activities in any product development project. If requirements for a project are not properly gathered and documented, the odds of project success are often greatly diminished. This short blog post shares 4 practical tips for better requirements management.
Tip-1: Capture 100% of Requirements
This may sound rather basic and elementary. But the fact is, at most companies, capturing 100% of the requirements is a huge challenge. Why is this so?
At most companies, requirements come from many varied sources (Customers, Prospective customers, Partners, Executives, Employees, et al), via many different channels (Email, Phone calls, IM chats, Tweets, Hallway conversations, etc), and in many different formats (Word, Excel, Post-it notes, Wikis, Forums, etc). Add it all up – and it is no wonder most companies struggle to capture 100% of the requirements!
By ensuring you capture 100% of the requirements, you can ensure your project gets off on the right foot. At the end of this post, I’ll share a link to a PDF that provides concrete, practical steps for achieving this.
Tip-2: Proactively Verify Requirements
Once you’ve captured 100% of the requirements, the next step is to ensure that the requirements are verified. What do I mean by “verify”?
Most stakeholders from whom you and your project team receive requirements are not trained in writing requirements. As a result, their requirements often tend to be vague, ambiguous and sometimes even self-contradictory!
By following up with the requestors proactively to make sure their requirements are properly understood & documented is critical. Otherwise, valuable resources can be spent implementing the wrong requirements! The PDF linked at the end of this post shares more details on this too.
Tip-3: Ensure Completeness of Requirements
After you’ve made sure that all the requirements are captured and properly verified – the next step is to ensure that the requirements are complete. A lot of projects struggle with this step.
In fact, The Standish CHAOS Report, which surveyed 9,236 IT projects found that “Incomplete Requirements” was one of the top reasons for project failures.
By creating and using a well-defined template for requirements – a template that addresses all essential attributes of a requirement – you can make sure the requirements are complete. A good requirements management software tool can also help with this.
Tip-4: Prioritize Requirements Systematically
Most projects use what I refer to as the “Squeaky Wheel” prioritization method! That os – whoever is the loudest gets high priority assigned to their requirements!
It is important to use a systematic method to evaluate and prioritize requirements. Prioritization should ideally be based on Return-on-Investment (ROI).
When it is hard to do thorough ROI analysis for each requirement (or bucket of requirements), it is okay to use a “proxy” for ROI – this could be as simple as incremental revenue achievable by implementing a set of requirements. But make sure the prioritization is based on a systematic, documented analysis – this will help you avoid the pitfalls of the “Squeaky Wheel Prioritization” method.
PDF White Paper: For practical steps you can use to execute the above tips – as well as for 3 additional, valuable tips – get the free PDF white paper at http://www.accompa.com/wp.html.
If you’re interested in automating your requirements gathering and management using customizable templates/methodology – Accompa requirements management software can help you. It is used by more than 100 companies (from Fortune-500 companies to growing startups) to capture and manage their requirements systematically. If you’re interested, you can apply for a 30-day free trial here.