Requirements Management is one of the most critical stages in the success of projects.
71% of software projects fail because of errors and oversights made during the requirements phase.
In the following clips we will show you all you need to know about requirements management to help you prevent project failure and delays.
These are a few of the topics that are covered in the clips:
– How to collect requirements from stakeholders
– How to create user stories and interviews
– How to document the requirements using requirements management software
– How to handle the change requests submitted by stakeholders during the development process
– Tips on how to avoid scope creep and how to make sure everything stays within your control
And much more… You don’t want to miss it!
Hello, my name is Allison, and I would like to welcome you to the project management training program. Thank you for signing up – you will definitely be glad that you did. In fact, not only do I want to thank you, but I really want to congratulate you because you’re now embarking on a new program that is going to help you get to the next level professionally.
Hi, I’m Bob and I want to welcome you aboard as well. Allison and I are going to be teaching you the ropes, guiding you step by step through this amazing new program, and we’ll be telling you a lot of great insider secrets as we go. You’re going to see exactly how easy it is to get started using these tools right away. And once you begin utilizing this program, you’ll find that it makes your work a lot easier, and, as a result, it makes your life a lot better.
What we want to talk about first today is Requirements Management, because that is where every project should begin. Not a lot of people realize this, but up to 71% of all software projects fail because of errors and oversights made during the requirements phase. In fact, I can give you an example from my own life that may sound familiar to some of you: Last month I planned my little girl’s 6th birthday party. I decided it would have a princess theme, so I bought a pink cake and sparkly decorations and princess-themed favors. It looked perfect, if I do say so myself. But when my daughter came downstairs and saw everything, she was sad. She loves animals and she had wanted a zoo theme for her birthday. What was my mistake? Not finding out what my “client” wanted ahead of time.
Just like you need to be attentive to the needs of your family at home, you have to focus on your clients’ needs at work. And, frankly, one of the things that I love about this program is that it makes my work easier so that I actually have more time to spend at home. Requirements management in particular is all about helping you to do your job more efficiently. I’ve been serving as a Project Manager for years and I can tell you from personal experience that one of the most common problems for people in my field is the failure to document and understand the client’s needs, which is Requirements Management 101.
Failure to figure out what the requirements are upfront means trouble. The project vision and scope aren’t clearly defined, requirements aren’t prioritized, developers encounter ambiguities and missing information when coding and start guessing what the client wants. The result is often an unhappy client.
Some studies have shown that for each dollar invested in finding and fixing errors during the requirements phase, you can save as much as $200 later on to correct that same problem after implementation. Think how much you save by catching problems early on! So requirements management is the first, and maybe the most important step in successfully completing a project. Yet many people overlook it completely.
The major benefit of requirements management is that it defines the project and provides a framework that enables the tracking and completing of the project’s progress and objectives.
When you implement requirements management, you see the advantages right away. It helps control project schedule and costs, improves communication between members of your team, allows for faster development, reduces unnecessary rework during the late stages of development, and ultimately increases customer satisfaction. I won’t name any names, but the days before I was in charge, I worked under a few project managers who were lousy at requirements management and it made for a miserable working experience. There was conflict among team members, deadlines weren’t met, and the end product was often all wrong.
Simply put, requirements management makes your job easier and it makes your client happier. And, fortunately, you are about to learn a very easy-to-use formula that is going to help you with that aspect of project management.
In the requirements management section of the program here, we are going to take you through step-by-step and teach you everything you need to know. It’s very simple and we’re going to break it down for you so that you can be using it immediately and start seeing great results right away.
We’ll be covering three main areas in this section: requirements elicitation, requirements documentation, and the change control process. In requirements elicitation, we will teach you how to collect requirements from stakeholders, and we’ll show you how to create user stories and interviews. For requirements documentation, we will explain how you document the requirements using requirements management software and you will learn how to create SRS (or Software Requirement Specification). Then we’ll get to the change control process, where we show you how to handle the change requests submitted by stakeholders during the development process. We will also give you tips on how to avoid scope creep and how to make sure everything stays within your control.
Be aware that the requirements phase isn’t a linear process. There are a number of steps, and you may need to repeat some of them, adding and editing more information along the way.
The first step is Initialization, where you gather requirements from the start-up documents, starting with the information that is available to you. This includes defined project goals and objectives, the identification of stakeholders and users, and identified major constraints and benefits. For this process, it is extremely helpful to use requirements management software, which will give you all the tools you need for listing requirements. You will want to use different categories, such as product and project name, security, environmental, and so forth. You will also want to specify the requirement type as mandatory or optional, and prioritize it as critical, high, medium, or low.
Step 2 involves interviewing the key players to gather more information, drilling down for needs that were not expressed in the initial documents, and clarifying existing requests by establishing important information such as priority level. List and prioritize the stakeholders that you plan to interview based on the importance of information that they can give you for writing the requirements. Keep in mind that there are different levels of interviews. You can interview individual people or a group. You can even do a workshop that involves different teams. You can also just observe how people do their work and build the requirements list based on an analysis of their process. For the interviewers, offer recommendations of books that advise on how to ask questions.
The third step is analysis, which involves collecting the information gathered so far, putting it together, and looking for conflicts or missing details. During this stage, the project manager collects the data that he gathered in the interview phase and starts putting the pieces together. First, he should start with the high level picture and determine what the final solution should look like. Then, he can start breaking down each high level requirement into smaller ones, connecting them, assigning them priority, and determining their level of importance to the project. The project manager should be sure to evaluate the risk factor for each requirement at this time.
Step 4 is Documentation, the point at which you put everything together, clearly written and organized, in a detailed and comprehensive requirements document. The document should place all requirements together in a clear flow from high level down to the lower level. These requirements should be as specific as possible, including classifications such as mandatory, required, and so on. The requirements should be measurable and achievable, so that you can determine if they have been achieved. They should also be results-oriented. Define the expected result of each feature. It is easier to build the requirements in a tree structure, dividing them into categories and sub-categories. Each requirement item should have a title and description, with the description written in a story format.
This is the initial stage of the project, in which people may commit to certain activities and resources. As you probably well know, people have a tendency to forget their commitments or change their minds, so that’s why it is important to document any commitments and responsibilities that have been assigned to different people. You’ll find that this will help prevent confusion and miscommunication in the future. If possible, attach meeting summaries, files, and even signed agreements to the requirements to provide additional proof of decisions that have been made during this phase. It can also be quite helpful to attach graphs, workflow charts, or any other supportive documents that can provide additional information and make the requirement description clearer. You should also document activities that the client is committed to do, such as training, testing, and making their resources available. If you anticipate any misunderstanding along the way, document items that will not be included in the project but might be requested by the client in the future.
Step 5, Review, is about getting agreement from all the stakeholders and setting expectations from the different people involved. All stakeholders should get the written requirements definitions and provide feedback. This will give them a chance to verify that their wants and needs are properly addressed in the document. They’ll be able to see how all the components fit together, providing them with an overall picture. This stage can be done by conducting a meeting with all stakeholders and going over the requirements list, though that method works best if there are a fairly small number of participants in the process. For larger projects involving a number of teams and individuals, it’s better to distribute the documents to everybody and then collect feedback from each team. The teams can have their own internal meetings to discuss the document, then forward their feedback to the project manager.
The sixth step is Baselining, which means setting the requirements as the basis for the development process. Once approved, the requirements should be locked and used as the starting point of the project. If you perform similar types of projects, such as web site building, you can use the first requirements baseline as a template for future projects. Keep in mind that the locked document can be used as a legal tool in the future, in case there are any disagreements with the client regarding the project objective and results. The approved version should be distributed to all interested parties. All approval changes need to be made to this version and tracked using version control.
Verification and Validation is Step 7. Here you monitor the requirements through the project life cycle to make sure that the project is developed according to what they define. During this phase, the project manager ensures that each requirement is addressed and completed as planned. Use a test cases management system to run tests based on the requirements. It’s a very good idea to link the requirements with the tests and bugs that have been found during the testing phase. It’s best to define a priority level to each requirement and build the work plan that makes sure that all high level mandatory requirements are completed before the project is over. Throughout the project process, the project manager should track the completion level of each requirement to make sure that the project objectives are achieved.
The eighth and final step is Change Control. Most projects change after the baseline phase, so you need to control the changes and the affects that they have on other requirements, project phases, budget, and schedule.
The requirements phase obviously involves a lot of information gathering and tracking, but you’ll find that our program makes it a snap. Of course, your active participation in this process is key. We’re very excited to be showing you this new program, and we know you will love it. If you’re anything like me, you are really happy when a program comes along that raises your game. You’re already giving 100% and doing great things, but we’re going to show you how easy it is to get to the next level. Come on, let’s get started!