Five Things to Start and Five Things to Stop in Requirements Management

According to PMI, "47% of unsuccessful projects fail to meet goals due to poor requirements management." Wow! Requirements are a pretty big deal. Let's look at five things to start and five things to stop in requirements management.

Requirements Notebook

5 Things to Start

  1. Identify and engage appropriate stakeholders. Project managers who work in a matrix environment should seek resource approval from stakeholder's managers early in the project.
  2. Ensure the requested software features will be used. Inquire (politely) why the features are needed. How does the requirement align with the goals of the project? The results of one Standish Group indicated that 45% of product features were never used.
  3. If questionable, ask if a requirement is in the scope of the project. The project manager may wish to capture out-of-scope requirements in a parking lot for future consideration. Check with the Project Management Office (PMO) or other authority on how to handle these requirements.
  4. Analyze requirements using context diagrams, use cases, stories, and other tools and techniques. Project managers or business analysts who use different tools help the stakeholders see things from various perspectives.
  5. When requirements change, be sure to update the requirements under version control. Ideally, the project manager should be able to see the versions of the requirement from the initial version to the current version. Many of the requirement tools today provide this capability.

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"47% of unsuccessful projects fail to meet goals due to poor requirements management." —PMI

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5 Things to Stop

  1. Over analyzing requirements (analysis paralysis). Project managers and business analyst must use discernment. At some point, you must move on.
  2. Storing requirements information in more than one location. Some project managers make the mistake of capturing requirements in different places such as emails, spreadsheets, notes, and meeting minutes. Determine early in the project the one location for all requirements.
  3. Writing vague, ambiguous requirements. Be specific. Determine if the tester can test the requirement.
  4. Diving too deep into the design while defining requirements.
  5. Using a word processing program for storing requirements. Check with the PMO or other authority to determine if the company has adopted a standard requirements management tool. If not, the project manager may wish to work with stakeholders to select a tool.

Have You Thought of Becoming a Business Analyst?

More organizations are recognizing the value of improving the requirements process through business analysis. Both IIBA and PMI offer business analysis certifications.

The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) has two certifications: 1) Certification of Competency in Business AnalysisTM(CCBA®) Designation and 2) Certified Business Analysis ProfessionalTM (CBAP®) Designation.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has added the PMI-Professional in Business Analysis (PBA) Designation to its family of certifications. This certification prepares project managers to better identify, evaluate, and management project requirements.

According to PMI, "The number of business analysis jobs is predicted to increase 19 percent by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This research indicates a growing need for professionals skilled in effective requirements management."

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