Collecting Project Requirements
By Marc Derendinger, Northwest University
It often helps to think of this process as finding what is needed to satisfy the stakeholders and creating a document to reflect this understanding. These requirements become the basis for your Work Breakdown Structure, so need to be detailed enough for accurate measurement once the project is underway.
Since this process is defining your stakeholder’s expectations, it follows that an input is your stakeholder register. In addition to containing the stakeholder’s information, it would also be beneficial to detail their influence, interest and requirements. The other input for this process is the project charter. The high-level view of the project found in your charter can be thought of as a baseline to form your requirements onto. There are a variety of tools you can use to collect and document these requirements.
Interviews can be effective in getting detailed needs for a product from subject matter experts. Focus groups can create a safe environment for a group of stakeholders to discuss their needs and requirements, outlining their expectations for this project. Facilitated workshops require a skilled facilitator to collect key stakeholders and elaborate your requirements. A variety of group techniques are commonly associated with creativity, which is an important part of your requirements gathering. It could include:
- Brainstorming involves presenting ideas in rapid succession, and not detailed further until there are no new ideas presented.
Nominal group technique takes brainstormed ideas and votes on them to create a prioritized list.
Delphi technique gathers expert judgment in a blind survey then resubmits the results for further detail.
Idea and mind mapping diagrams ideas into meaningful associations in graphical format.
Another tool is your group decision making techniques such as unanimity, majority, consensus, plurality and dictatorship. You can also use questionnaires and surveys to gather opinions rapidly. Observation or “job shadowing” studies a worker as they perform their job to understand less obvious requirements. Finally, you can use prototypes or models of you end product the user can interact with. Prototypes are tangible and often provide better feedback results.
The outputs of this process are your requirements documentation (which outlines the project’s requirements), your requirements management plan (defining how to address your requirements and make changes), and your requirements traceability matrix (which traces the source of your requirements to your stakeholders, helps keep track of high-priority stakeholders and assigns responsibility for a requirement)
Northwest University opened to students on October 1, 1934. It is a regionally accredited institution awarding associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degrees.
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