Poor requirements management is a common contributing factor in project failure, with only half of organisations (49%) having the necessary resources in place to properly perform requirements management according to the PMI®*.
The issues associated with ineffective requirements management are often complex and multi-faceted, spanning across people, cultural and process-related factors. Collaboration in managing requirements is crucial for success, with many survey findings highlighting the power of leveraging the strengths, insights, influence and skillsets of sponsors and other key stakeholders.
From an organisation’s perspective:
The three critical areas for requirements management success are People, Culture & Process
Despite requirements management being a necessary discipline of planning and analysis, when managed poorly, the result is that executives and sponsors aren’t always privy to the benefits in harnessing it effectively, and therefore don’t always get behind it. That said, the inherent belief in and the backing of requirements management needs to come from the top – executives and sponsors are not only ideal advocates, but crucial for filtering this understanding throughout the business environment.
In addition to executive-level support, standardised, streamlined and mature processes must be in place to allow for effective requirements management practices. These should be accessible and applicable to work practices so Business Analysts (BA) are equipped to put requirements management theory into practice. Other key stakeholders should also be educated on the role of the BA and how analysis and requirements management each have unique and differentiated importance.
The continuous development of skills and knowledge is paramount to properly empower all those affiliated with or driving requirements management in order to perform these tasks optimally.
From the BA’s perspective:
5 critical areas to consider when executing effective requirements management
1. Question every requirement
While part of the BA’s objective is to satisfy a business need, questioning the validity of a requirement is an important part of the analysis. What is the requirement? What is the benefit? Why? And What if? Should more than one of these questions prove difficult to answer then chances are the need for the requirement should be re-assessed.
2. Keep it simple
Short, sharp user stories are bound to be more effective, particularly with time-poor stakeholders. Consider presenting for a diverse audience through a combination of models, text, tables, checklists and matrices to demonstrate content succinctly. The less the BA has to ‘explain’, the more likely requirements have been communicated well.
While it is not always easy in practice, requirements must be prioritised. More often than not BAs find themselves in the death defying trap of trying to accommodate all things ‘high-priority’. While it’s easy to cite those factors that influence priority, including business value, penalty, cost, risk, dependencies, time sensitivity, stability and the most feared of all, regulatory and compliance, it is often more difficult to work with stakeholders to truly understand what is and what is not a priority.
4. Reduce, re-use, recycle
Don’t underestimate the power of a requirements management repository that allows for the recycling of requirements for the use of solution updates. This approach can give a ‘leg up’ on understanding current environments, and allow for future opportunity to pick requirements from multiple systems to then create a clearer understanding of all elements of traceability.
5. Requirements metadata
There are many convincing arguments to refute capturing requirements attributes. Time and effort is at the forefront of this debate, however, time upfront has been proven to save time later when in need of retrieving applicable content quickly.
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* PMI’s Pulse of the Profession: Requirements Management — A Core Competency for Project and Program Success
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