Requirements are the most fundamental information for any project. A project is undertaken to create a new product or service or results which will fulfil the requirements of the stakeholders. Requirements are the expectations of the stakeholders which they have from the final outcome of the project. Hence it becomes the most important aspect of project management to first understand the requirements and then ensure that the requirements are finally fulfilled.
Requirements are collected from all appropriate and relevant stakeholders. Requirements are collected through interactions with the stakeholders mostly. Interactions may involve one-to-one with some key stakeholders, and also group discussions by involving multiple stakeholders at a time. Finally requirements have to be agreed by all concerned stakeholders.
Some of the key challenges in requirements collection include:
- Stakeholders very often do not have a clear idea about what exactly they want
- Sometimes stakeholders do not know how to express and articulate their requirements
- Requirements collected through verbal interactions may be prone to misinterpretation
- Very often there may be implicit and unsaid requirements and expectations
Methods for Requirement Collection
- Brainstorming – Involving a group of stakeholders asking them provide all their suggestions and ideas about what they will prefer to see in the final outcome. This generates many ideas. No restrictions are enforced in a brainstorming session
- Interview – Interviews can be planned with some of the senior stakeholders to understand some of their requirements and expectations
- Focus groups – Moderated discussion with a group of stakeholders belonging to a particular group or function and finalize requirements with them.
- Facilitated Workshops – Moderated discussion with a group of stakeholders belonging to a cross functional groups together and finalize some of the requirements which will be common for all of them
- Questionnaires & Surveys – Used for collecting inputs from large group of stakeholders who may be wide spread
- Benchmarking – While developing a new product, very often we can start with some benchmark products and ideas and build new requirements in comparison to benchmarked product
- Observation and Conversation – Very often stakeholders are unable to articulate the requirements because of lack of skills and enough knowledge at their end. In such cases, observation technique is used to understand the requirements by observing the as is processes and thereby understand the requirements. Mostly used to understand the existing manual processes which need to be automated.
- Nominal Group Technique - Prioritizing requirements by involving the group of stakeholders. Identifying the must-have, should-have and could-have requirements.
- Facilitation techniques – The project team need to drive and facilitate the stakeholders so that the clear requirements are collected.
- Affinity diagrams – Categorising various requirements in logical groupings for better understanding and clarity
- Decision Making – Finally the requirements which need to be fulfilled have to be decided by involving the group of stakeholders and voting techniques are used for the purpose.
- Prototyping – Requirements collected by interactions are always prone to misinterpretation. In order to reduce such misinterpretation prototypes are often made. A prototype provides an opportunity to validate the common understanding of the requirements by all parties.
Requirements collection and ensuring clarity of requirements is most fundamental to successfully meeting stakeholder expectations. Every care needs to be taken for ensuring clarity and comprehensiveness of the requirements. The project team need to work proactively to collect requirements and facilitate the stakeholders in the process.