Project Management

Requirements Management: The Key to Project Success

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Requirements Management: The Key to Project Success
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Requirements Management: The Key to Project Success

As a manager, you undoubtedly understand that each of your company’s projects is influenced by the needs of your business and your stakeholders.

Here’s an important tip, you should take these demands seriously and turn them into project guardrails. This process of identifying and managing your project’s needs is referred to as requirements management.

In this article, we look at what a typical requirements management plan entails and how to put one together.

What is a requirements management plan?

What is a requirements management plan?

A requirements management plan is a document that defines how requirements will be identified, managed, and tracked from initiation to closure of the project. Most of the time, it’s created in conjunction with the project plan.

Where the project plan defines the high-level tasks and milestones, the requirements management plan spells out how requirements will be identified and gathered, from both internal and external sources.

Let’s say, for example, that your project is to develop a new website for your company. The requirements management plan would document how you will go about identifying the specific needs of the business and its stakeholders, and then turn these into specific requirements that the development team can work with.

One need could be to have a completely new website design. Another might be to include a search function on the home page. A third could be to make sure the website is responsive across different devices.

The requirements plan would spell out how these and other needs will be captured and turned into specific requirements.

Your plan should also spell out how changes and updates to requirements will be managed, as well as how your project team will be kept up to date on the changes.

Your plan absolutely needs to include a process for QA (quality assurance) of requirements. Ideally, this includes a procedure for verifying that requirements are correct, complete, feasible, and meet all of your customer and stakeholder requirements.

The following are some of the most essential questions that require answers in the requirements management plan:

  • What are the specific needs of the project?
  • How will they be identified and gathered?
  • Who will approve them?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring that they are met?
  • What happens if they’re not met?
  • How will changes to requirements be managed?
  • How will the project team be kept up to date on changes?
  • What is the process for Quality Assurance of requirements?

Why projects fail

Why projects fail

Requirements planning is an important step in ensuring your project’s success. A well-crafted strategy will help to minimize uncertainty and risk, and will help to ensure that all stakeholders’ needs are met.

However, even with a well-defined requirements management plan, projects can still fail. The following are some of the most common reasons why projects fail:

  • Lack of clarity or miscommunication about requirements
  • Requirements that are not feasible or cannot be met
  • Changes to requirements after the project has started
  • Poor quality of requirements
  • Unmet customer or stakeholder expectations

By taking the time to properly strategize and document your project’s requirements, you can help to minimize the chances of these things happening.

Who creates a requirements management plan?

The requirements management plan is typically created by the project manager, in conjunction with the team responsible for requirements gathering and verification.

However, it’s important to get input from all stakeholders, including customers and end users.

And don’t forget to identify which tools and techniques you will use, and how requirements will be verified and approved.

Battling uncertainty

When it comes to battling uncertainty in project management, requirements management planning is one of your most powerful tools. By taking the time to put a comprehensive plan together, you can help ensure that all stakeholders’ needs are met and that the project is executed as smoothly as possible.

This is why a rigorous requirements planning process is so important. It helps to ensure that the project stays on track and meets all the specific needs of the business.

Elements of a requirements plan

Elements of a requirements plan

Below is a list of key elements that you should include in your plan:

  • Identification of stakeholders and their needs
  • Development of use cases or scenarios
  • Define and refine project scope
  • Requirements elicitation techniques
  • Requirements verification and validation
  • Change management procedures
  • Tracking and reporting mechanisms

Putting together a requirements management plan

Putting together a requirements management plan

Putting together a requirements management plan may seem like a daunting task, but by taking it one step at a time you can create a plan that will help to ensure your project’s success.

1) Identify stakeholders

The first step is to identify the stakeholders and their needs. This includes understanding who the end-users of the system will be, as well as what their business needs are.

Most project requirements will come from its stakeholders, so you must first identify who they are.

Just be sure to outline the specific steps you’ll take to identify your project’s stakeholders, such as interviews, meetings, or team brainstorms.

2) Develop use cases or scenarios

One way to understand the needs of the stakeholders is to develop use cases or scenarios. This will help you to see how the system will be used and what functions are required.

3) Define project scope

Once you understand the needs of the stakeholders, you need to define the project scope. This is a high-level description of the project’s goals and objectives, but it doesn’t contain all of the specifics.

For example, if you’re project is developing a new software system, the project scope might include the following:

  • The system will be used to manage customer data
  • The system must be able to interface with other software systems
  • The system must be able to handle a large number of transactions

These are just some examples – you’ll want to include specific goals and objectives that are relevant to your project.

Without the clarity of scope, it would be difficult to develop requirements that met the needs of the stakeholders.

The requirements management plan should spell out how the project scope will be defined and how it will be verified and validated.

4) Elicit requirements

Once the project scope is defined, you can start eliciting requirements. This involves gathering information from the stakeholders and documenting it in a clear and concise manner.

The requirements management plan should identify the specific techniques that will be used to elicit requirements, such as interviews, focus groups, or surveys.

5) Verify and validate requirements

Once the requirements are gathered, they need to be verified and validated. This means checking to make sure that they meet the needs of the stakeholders, are correct, complete, and feasible.

The requirements management plan should identify who will verify and validate the requirements, as well as how that will be done.

6) Manage changes

Requirements are always changing, and the requirements management plan should identify how changes will be managed.

This includes procedures for identifying, tracking, and reporting changes.

7) Track and report requirements

The requirements management plan should also identify how requirements will be tracked and reported.

This might include a requirements repository, a changelog, or a status report.

Putting together a requirements management plan is an important step in any project. By taking the time to tailor the plan to your specific project, you’ll be sure to gather requirements that meet the needs of the stakeholders.

5 Common mistakes to avoid

5 Common mistakes to avoid

Mistakes are bound to happen during any project, but there are some mistakes that are especially common. Here are five mistakes that must be avoided:

1) Not identifying stakeholders

One of the most common mistakes is not identifying the stakeholders and their needs. This includes understanding who the end-users of the system will be, as well as what their business needs are.

Most project requirements will come from its stakeholders, so you must first identify those stakeholders.

Just be sure to outline the specific steps you’ll take to identify your project’s stakeholders, such as interviews, meetings, or team brainstorms.

2) Developing use cases or scenarios without understanding needs

Use cases and scenarios are a great way to understand the needs of the stakeholders, but they must be developed correctly.

Many times, teams will develop use cases without understanding the business needs and this can lead to requirements that don’t meet the needs of the stakeholders.

The best way to avoid this is to have a clear understanding of the business goals and objectives before developing use cases.

3) Developing requirements that are not feasible

It’s important to develop requirements that are both correct and feasible.

Many times, teams will develop requirements that are not possible to implement or they may be too costly.

This can lead to frustration on the part of the stakeholders and missed deadlines.

The best way to avoid this is to have a clear understanding of the technology that will be used and the constraints of the project.

4) Not eliciting requirements from all stakeholders

Another common mistake is not eliciting requirements from all stakeholders.

This can lead to missing information or, worse yet, conflicting requirements.

The best way to avoid this is to have a clear plan for eliciting requirements, such as using a variety of techniques.

5) Not verifying and validating requirements

After the requirements are gathered, they need to be verified and validated.

This means checking to make sure that they meet the needs of the stakeholders and are correct.

The requirements management plan should identify who will verify and validate the requirements.

This can be done by using a variety of techniques, such as interviews, focus groups, or surveys.

Putting together a Requirements Management Plan is an important step in any project. By taking the time to tailor the plan to your specific project, you’ll be sure to gather requirements that meet the needs of the stakeholders. Avoid these five mistakes and you’ll be on your way to success!

Conclusion

Project requirements are one of the most important aspects of project management, yet they can also be one of the most difficult to manage. A requirements management plan is a key document that helps to ensure that project requirements are gathered and managed effectively.

By taking the time to put together a well-thought-out requirements management plan, you’ll be sure to gather requirements that meet the needs of your stakeholders.

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