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Define the Content and Format Standards for Each Product To Be Delivered
By Richard Morreale

This is the third installment in a series of articles about a 9-Step Structured Project Planning. Today I’m going to write, in as much detail as possible, the content and format standards for each of the Products to be delivered during the project.

One of the big things that I stress when I’m running a project or teaching a project management course is to ‘know what you are supposed to deliver before you start working on delivering it’. What I’m talking about here is that no matter what you are having to deliver, whether it is an entire system, a project or a document the principle remains the same – ‘know what you are supposed to deliver before you start working on delivering it’.. If you know what you have to deliver in terms of what the Product will look like before you start, you will have a much better chance of defining and organizing the work to deliver it.

Once, at the London Stock Exchange, I was asked to take over a large project that was about 2 years late and the approximately 40-member team still didn’t have an agreed Requirements Specification. So the first thing I did was get the team to put together a content and format standard for the Requirements Document that they wanted to produce. They thought that I was a little crazy wasting the teams time on preparing a document standard. They just knew they should be analyzing requirements instead of messing around with documentation. However, once they had the standard agreed among themselves, had it agreed with the Project Board and with the clients and users and me, we knew exactly what had to be done to prepare the document and, therefore, it was very clear what had to be done in the Requirements Analysis Phase of the project. We put a plan together to do the work necessary to produce the document and thereby completing the Requirements Analysis Phase of the project. It took us just about 3 months to get something in place that the team had been working on for almost 2 years with no results.

So, I believe that you should sit down with a number of the people on your Project Team, take each of the Products that you identified in Planning Step 2 and describe the document the content and structure standard for each of them.

For instance, although, the example below is not meant to accurately identify any specific Requirements Document Standard for any specific type of system or project, it should give you some idea of what I mean about standards. In most cases your standard would probably have a more detailed description for each of the section/subsections.

Section Title Description
1 Introduction An introduction to the Requirements Document to include Purpose, Scope, Background, controlling Changes, etc.
2 Existing Situation A description in words, graphics, charts, etc. of the existing situation, system, etc.
3 Requirements  
3.1 Requirements Introduction An introduction to the requirements section of the Document. An explanation of how each of the requirements will be represented, etc.
3.2 Detailed Requirements An introduction to the detailed requirements.
3.2.1 Requirement 1 Description of the requirement, as agreed, using graphics, diagrams, etc.
3.2.1+n Requirement 1+n Description of the requirement, as agreed, using graphics, diagrams, etc.
4 Constraints Description of any constraints on the Project Team in the successful delivery of the project.
5 Acceptance Criteria Introduction to the Acceptance Criteria Section of the Specification. An explanation of how the Acceptance Criteria will be represented, etc.
5.1 Detailed Acceptance Criteria An introduction to the Detailed Acceptance Criteria.
5.1.1 Requirement 1 Detailed Acceptance Criteria The Acceptance Criteria for Requirement 1.
5.1+n Requirement 1+n The Acceptance Criteria for Requirement 1+n.

Richard is a project manager, professional speaker, author and consultant specializing in Project Management, Leadership, Achievement and Customer Service.

You can book Richard for your next meeting or conference at or 336 499 6677.

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