Requirements Management - A Crucial Ingredient for Project Success

Requirements Management - A Crucial Ingredient for Project Success

Insights | 25 October 2014

47% of unsuccessful projects fail to meet goals due to poor requirements management.

Requirements management is one of the many crucial ingredients to ensure the successful outcome of any project, regardless of its size, complexity, type or duration. In this article we are looking at the What, When, Why, How and Who of “Requirements Management” as a necessary ingredient for Project Success.

What is Requirements Management? Simply put, it is the continuous process – throughout the entire life of a project – of documenting, analysing, prioritising, agreeing, communicating, tracing, verifying, validating and confirming the capabilities to which the project’s outcome should conform, whether it be a product or a service. It encompasses the process of controlling change to those requirements and communicating such change to and with the relevant stakeholders.

When do Requirements get managed? The definition above clearly states that it is a continuous process which occurs throughout the entire life of a project. A number of benchmark studies show it is far less expensive to identify and capture requirements early in the project lifecycle. Systematic and effective requirements management based on best practice captures requirements during the inception phase of the project.

Why do we need to Manage Requirements? Effective requirements management eliminates sub-standard design, build and test activities on any project. In particular:

  1. It can reduce failures and rework during project execution: We are all familiar with the saying ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, which advises early remedial action to avoid later deterioration.
  2. It creates a solid and baselined set of criteria against which the outcome of the project can be objectively tested, measured and validated (traced back to).

Who performs the activity of Requirements Management? It is a common misconception that the “Business Analyst” is wholly responsible for Managing Requirements. Managing Requirements, like all the other activities for successfully executing and delivering a project, is a team-sport, and every stakeholder on the project team are responsible for ensuring requirements are managed throughout the life of a project. Having said that, there are a few specialised roles in the requirements management discipline, including Requirements Specifier, Requirements Writer, Requirements Reviewer, Requirements Tracker and Requirements Approver.

Points To Remember:

The process of effective Requirements Management on any project:

  • is a continuous team effort made up of various related activities throughout the life of the project;
  • requires the active involvement of specialised roles as well as requirements management standards in the organisation, documented in what’s known as a Requirements Management Plan;
  • is often neglected, apart from the proven fact that it remains the starting point of everything on the project; and
  • is of utmost importance to ensure that a project delivers exactly what it is supposed to deliver, of high quality, on the expected time, and at the expected cost.

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It’s not exactly a business secret that poorly-executed projects cost a great deal more than money (as if that’s not bad enough). They can cost reputations. Careers. So why not face facts and get the help you need?

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