Are Poor Requirements Killing Your Projects?

How often have you neared a project implementation date, only to find new requirements? Or perhaps your team said they had gathered the requirements, but in reality, the team had hastily rushed through the requirement process resulting in rework, missed deadlines, and another blown budget.

Photo courtesy of (edited in Canva)

Photo courtesy of (edited in Canva)

If you want to improve your chance for project success, focus on improving your requirements processes. You can’t overcome all the requirement issues overnight, but here are a few things to consider.

  • Do you have a requirements management plan? The PM should define their approach to requirements analysis. How will you elicit, analyze, document, and validate requirements? How will you manage requirement changes? How will you trace requirements?
  • Do you have a team member with strong requirements analysis skills? Secure a skilled business analyst.
  • Have you identified stakeholders for the requirements process? If you suspect there are unspoken requirements, be proactive to engage the individuals who have yet to speak up.
  • Are the requirements unambiguous? Clarify the requirements.
  • Are you allowing stakeholders to venture outside the scope of the project (i.e., scope creep)?
  • Are you allowing stakeholders to specify requirements for product and service features likely to never be used?
  • Are you conducting assumption analysis on requirements? Imagine your project team assumes incorrectly the software being developed will run on another operating system with no changes. It is best to test these assumptions during the requirements process.
  • Are you prioritizing requirements? If you had to cut some of the requirements, which ones would go first?
  • Are you modeling requirements, preferably using more than one modeling tool?
  • Are you validating requirements? Review the requirements with your team in an effort to find defects or errors and correct them early. These defects are much more costly to correct later in the project.
  • Are you baselining the requirements? At some point, you and the team must sign off on the requirements and agree the requirements are good enough.
  • Are you managing changes to the requirements? Consider using version control for your requirements.

Question: What is your most significant problem with requirements?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 thoughts on “Are Poor Requirements Killing Your Projects?

  1. Harry,

    Virtually everything you have written makes sense. My problem with it is the tacit assumption that these tasks belong to the PM.

    On any project which is (correctly?) staffed with a competent Business Analyst, most of this responsibility would fall to the BA. I would have been “happier” had you started with a statement indicating that the biggest single thing you can do to improve the requirements process and outcome is to ensure that you have a competent BA on your team (something you mention in the middle of the list), and close with a statement which indicates that, absent a BA, the responsibility falls to the PM. The two should be constantly and consistently working together to achieve an appropriate outcome.

    Guess it’s the BA in me!