10 Rules for Requirements Gathering
Requirements Gathering 101
Every day a million projects go bad from the moment they start. Okay, well not maybe a million, but a lot. The thing is they don’t have to. When you start a project right it tends to end right. Part of starting a project the right way is by using a process called Requirements Gathering. Any project that wants to succeed has to have a clearly defined purpose. This may sound obvious but it doesn’t always happen. What exactly is your project going to do, what exactly is your project not going to do? Who are the stakeholders and, most important, can we all agree on these things? I have some basic tips for you to consider.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you start the process.
- Project Scope – Clearly define the project. What it is and what it isn’t.
- Prioritize – ‘Must have’ requirements are different than ‘We would like it to have.’ Get key requirements nailed down first.
- Consult and listen – Involve the user as much as possible. Listen to the client and understand the key issues.
- Assumptions – Don’t try to solve the problem before you get to it.
10 Rules for Successful Requirements Gathering
- Don’t assume you know what the client wants – ask, then ask again.
- Involve the users from the start.
- Define and agree on the scope of the project at the beginning.
- Make sure requirements are SMART – specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.
- When in doubt – CLARIFY.
- Create a clear, concise and thorough requirements document and give a copy to your client.
- Confirm your understanding of the requirements alongside the client.
- Avoid talking technology or solutions until the requirements are fully understood.
- Get the requirements agreed upon with the stakeholders before the project starts.
- If necessary, create a prototype to test/review the customer’s requirements.
Requirements gathering is all about creating a clear, concise set of requirements that everyone has agreed upon. That way you can provide the client with what they want in the most effective and painless way possible without backtracking. As my carpenter friend says, “Measure twice, cut once.” Sounds good to me.