How to Define Requirements and the Role of Project Manager
Inaccurate requirements gathering is a leading cause of project failure. This is what PMI’s Pulse of the Profession ™ research shows. What role does a project manager have in requirements definition? How can we increase the chance of a successful project?
As a project manager, I had various experiences. I had a designated person who was responsible for defining the requirements for one project. There were also times when I had to solicit requirements from my own initiative.
I can assure you that in both cases, the challenges are the exact same. It is important to work with stakeholders. They are often short on time. The value of the requirements management process is often overlooked by stakeholders. They often think it is part of the execution process.
Key stakeholders are trying to reduce the time required to collect requirements.
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My opinion is that the first thing to do is to prove that it is essential. Poorly defined requirements can have a negative impact on stakeholders. The scope of the project is not defined by business vision. They may receive deliverables that are drastically different from what they expected.
Many stakeholders don’t know what their goals are. At least, not until they see it. However, new opportunities will open up once deliverables are more tangible. New ideas emerge when stakeholders get their hands on prototypes or the first version.
Facilitating this process is essential. It is essential that stakeholders have a clear understanding of their needs and wants as soon as possible. One of the best strategies is to visualize the final result or product. Try to insist on wireframes or early designs.
There is a special relationship between requirements, scope, quality. It is clearly illustrated in the PMBOK Guide. It looks like this:
Quality is the degree to which a product meets the requirements.
The more you understand the requirements, the easier it will be to define the scope. The higher quality you can achieve, the better you will be able to understand the scope of the project.
Uncertainty in requirements can lead to poor quality and ambiguity in requirements.
“Requirements are always changing, and that’s something project managers must embrace.” Filipe Altoe
The methodology you choose will greatly impact the process of requirements definition.
What approach should you choose: Kanban, Scrum, or waterfall? It doesn’t matter which approach is best. All of them work well. They have their pros and cons depending on the situation.
Are you able and willing to define your requirements clearly and in detail? It might be more beneficial to choose a waterfall. You will be able use your resources more efficiently.
Are the requirements consistent throughout the project’s life? An Agile approach is better. You will need to be able to adapt quickly to changes.
You must answer one question in the end. How to deliver a high-quality product that meets current requirements.
This was just a theory. What happens in practice?
Define your requirements
Your efforts should be focused on managing processes to define requirements. As a facilitator, you should be a key player. Do not get caught up in the routine. To see the whole picture, you need to be able to communicate at the management level.
Customers and sponsors might be interested in the success of the project. They will be involved in the project and motivated to give all the information they can. They might not be able to articulate what they want. They might not be able to think through the possibilities.