Requirements Gathering is the process of exploring the requirements for a system from end users, customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
Requirements Gathering is about discussing with each of the stakeholders to understand their needs and expectations on the product or service you are going to create.
Understanding the stakeholder expectations will help you visualize what you project is going to deliver.
Almost every project starts with a very high level and bare minimum requirements. This phase is to understand the customer needs from a very high level.
Later during requirements gathering phase, you collect the requirements in detail after speaking to users, customers, and other stakeholders.
Every requirement should be detail enough to justify the criteria to meet the requirement. Meaning that, requirement must always be measurable.
For instance, it is not enough to say the requirements as the web page loading speed must be reasonably good. In this case, after developing the system, you will not be able to verify whether you fulfill the requirement or not. Because the word “reasonably good” is subjective, and can be manifested by each stakeholder differently. So the requirements always should be subjective and must be measurable. The measurement criteria will help you to verify later, whether the end system fulfills the requirement or not.
Usually, business analysts will collect the requirements and create specifications. But why project manager should involve here?
Why Project Manager Involve in Collecting Requirements?
Though business analysts will collect the requirements, as a project manager you are responsible to make sure stakeholders needs are met. So it is a good idea for the project manager to be on top of requirements gathering process and understand both project requirements and product requirements.
Many organizations will create one common requirements specification for both product and project.
Certain organizations will produce two separate requirements specifications. One for the project specification, which contains the requirements for the project such as staying within budget, timelines of the project, etc. The other is for the product requirements specification, which contains the product features and functions.
As a project manager, it is a good to be on top of both the project and product requirements.
When to Perform Requirements Gathering Process?
When to perform requirements gathering process? This question determines the essential inputs of the collect requirements process.
First you must know how you are going to collect the requirements. This information is documented in scope management plan and requirements management plan. These documents are outputs to plan scope management process.
You also require project charter to understand the high level requirements of the project. And, the project charter is an output of Develop Project Charter process.
Then to extend these requirements you must talk to all the relevant stakeholders. So you need stakeholder management plan and stakeholder register.
Stakeholder management plan is the output of the Plan Stakeholder Management process. And the stakeholder register is an important output of Identify Stakeholders process.
Requirements Gathering or Collect Requirements Process and ITTO s
The primary output of collect requirements process is requirements documentation and requirements traceability matrix. As we learn earlier, the primary inputs for Collect Requirements process are the outputs of plan scope management, develop project charter, plan stakeholder management process and identify stakeholders’ processes.
- Firstly, you need scope management plan and requirements management plan to understand how to perform collect requirements process.
- Project charter will help you with high level and initial requirements of the project.
- Stakeholder management plan will tell you how deeply stakeholders should involve during requirements gathering phase.
- Stakeholder register will provide the list of stakeholders you should interact with to collect the requirements.
Tools & Techniques
- Requirements gathering techniques are very helpful to deal with variety of stakeholders. They are methods to extract requirements from the stakeholders. Please read the complete list of requirements gathering techniques for more information in detail.
- Requirements documentation documents all the project’s functional and non-functional requirements.
- Functional requirements will elaborate on the features and functions of the system.
- Non-functional requirements are the requirements that does not talk about the system functionalities. But they determine the system quality parameters such as performance, usability, etc.
- Requirements traceability matrix provides traceability from requirement ID to source of requirements, design, implementation, and test verification. You will update the requirements traceability matrix document multiple times during the project.
Requirements Gathering – Guidelines
Following are the few important guidelines to following during requirements gathering process.
- Make sure the project scope is clear with objective measures instead of subjective measures.
- Don’t blindly assume that you know what customer wants
- Make sure you don’t miss any stakeholder during requirements gathering process.
- Each requirement should SMART (SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound).
- Always validate assumptions with the stakeholders and make them concrete and certain.
- Make sure all stakeholders are on the same page, in terms of understanding on the requirements.
- Requirements must be sign off by the customer side stakeholders, who has authority to approve and sing off.
Common Mistakes During Requirements Gathering Process
Collecting requirements process seem like a simple and straight forward process. But, if it is not done properly, it may become expensive to the project at a later stage.
Following are some common mistakes happens during requirements gathering process.
- Not considering some of the stakeholders, so you miss the requirements.
- You capture the requirements subjectively. They are not measurable.
- Assumptions are not validated. And requirements are based on assumptions.
- Trying to jump to the conclusion, before you understand the problem or need of a stakeholder.
- Missing the priority of the requirements. There is principle called MoSCoW (MoSCoW – Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t Have). Additional “O” added to make the word pronounceable.
Requirements gathering process starts by interacting with the stakeholders. There are various requirements gathering techniques which will be of great help to gather requirements.
We have seen when to perform collect requirements process. We have also seen the ITTOs of collect requirements process.
Finally, we have gone through the common mistakes to avoid and guidelines during requirements gathering process.