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Friday, May 13, 2011

Chapter 28: Collecting Requirements for the Project

In the previous chapter, we saw the importance of scope management and how a good project manager would manage the scope of his project. In this chapter, we are going to take a look at Gathering Requirements for the Project…

So, lets get started!!!

What is Gathering Requirements?

Gathering Requirements is the phase in the project where we begin by identifying what the user or the customer (the person who is going to use the project/product) wants. Without a clear cut idea of what the user wants, we cannot possibly give it to him.

A requirement is a condition, characteristics, or a capability that a specific outcome of the project must have.

Requirements may come from different sources, such as from standards, specifications, and contracts. Stakeholder expectations and needs often materialize into requirements as well.

A Real Life Example:

Lets say, you walk into a restaurant with your spouse. Usually the Restaurant Floor Supervisor would walk up to your table and greet you first and then ask you for the order. You will tell him all your favorite dishes and he will go place the order with the kitchen staff. If no one from the restaurant comes up to ask you what you want, can they give you what you like to eat? Unless the floor supervisor captures your order in a notepad correctly (without missing your favorite dishes) you will not leave the restaurant satisfied.

The part where the floor supervisor in the restaurant notes down all your dish orders is equivalent to the Requirements Gathering Phase of a Project.

Unless, the requirements are gathered correctly, the outcome will not be nice and the customer is going to be unhappy.

Generally speaking, project requirements should include the product requirements. However, you may find that, many organizations distinguish between project requirements and product requirements. The project requirements include strictly project-related requirements, such as schedule and delivery requirements, business-related requirements, and other project management requirements, whereas the product requirements include the product-related requirements, such as requirements related to performance, security, and defects.

Requirements Planning

In order to capture requirements correctly and accurately, we need to plan the whole activity. You, as the project manager need to do some requirements planning, which includes:

• Defining and documenting the project requirements
• Defining and documenting the product requirements
• Developing a plan to manage the requirements; the requirements management plan

You do all this in order to determine and fulfill stakeholder expectations and needs. In other words, get the order correctly so that the customer will eat what he wants and leave happily.

How effective you are in capturing requirements will directly impact how effectively you will be able to meet the stakeholder requirements/expectations. Hence it is imperative that proper requirements’ gathering is required for any successful project.

In the next chapter, we will take a look the Requirements Collection Process.

Previous: Managing Scope

Next: Requirements Collection Process

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