Friday, September 14, 2012

Requirements Gathering in Project Management : Not Enough if not Prioritized or Ranked

This is a must read article by Gratien Gasaba on collecting project requirements, and most importantly, to keep perspective when collecting requirments. She writes for PM Hut:

“If you don’t know where you are going no road will take you there”.

To ensure that one is on the right road one needs to know where this road goes. But it serves for nothing if you don’t know where you are going. Assume you are in a bus station. You may be informed that bus number 1 will take the road to place A, bus number 2 to place B, bus number 3 to place C, etc. What criteria do you use to choose a right bus and to ensure you don’t get lost? The necessary and sufficient criterion is to know where you want to go. In the above illustrative particular case, if you want to go to the Place C, you will take the bus number 3 and exclude from your choice all other buses. In other words, if conductors of bus number 1 and bus number 2 try to convince you to take their respective buses, you will reply by a strong no, while to the conductor of the bus number 3 you will reply by an exclusive yes followed by your long strides toward the bus number3.

I have seen several project managers and project staffs complaining that the project beneficiaries are too inquisitive to the extent that it is impossible to know what they need. Complaints of this kind are warnings that the project is heading to failure. They signal a lack of focus. But who is responsible to clearly define and keep the project focus? What is the starting point towards what should be the real focus? Where and how can one gets information on what is needed to be done?
This article attempts to answer the above questions and highlight the importance of collecting requirements and actors involved in this exercise.

Collecting requirements is project manager centered

It is the project manager’s responsibility to ensure all stakeholders’ expectations are well collected and documented. After all, project managers are also required to manage stakeholders’ expectations as part of communication management. These expectations may be related to the project management or to the product of the project. When collected requirements are competing, the project manager is responsible to balance them. In fact, one of the most difficult challenges for project managers regarding scope management is to balance competing requirements and rank them by order of importance.

As project manager, do you have project requirements prioritized and ranked by order of importance? If so, congratulations! It’s a good start. If not, beware you may not be focusing the project resources to the right end!

Read full article by Gratien at PM Hut.

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