The Second Biggest Project Management Challenge

Has requirements creep become a requirements stampede in your organization?

This is a major pain point for project management professionals; requirements creep after requirements are baselined. Increase requirements stability on your project by adopting a requirements sign-off process to increase stakeholder understanding of what they are committing too. It is incredibly hard to get real approval for requirements. Studies continue to show that the requirements area is key problem on all project types. You are fighting for stakeholder subject matter expertise. You are fighting for their time. Here are some key tips to grab stakeholder attention.

Schedule multiple meetings: Stakeholders are in multiple time zones and need flexibility to attend conference calls. Also, even if stakeholders are in the Silicon Valley time zone, you know that they will skip meetings so plan in advance for multiple meetings to avoid getting their time and attention a management escalation.

Schedule multiple meeting types: There are many meeting types to elicit requirements; interviews, requirements workshops, requirements prototyping, and requirements review. Schedule these all in advance on everyone’s schedule so they can see the dates and the progressive elaboration of requirements detail that is needed to create a high-quality business requirements document.

Send materials out several days in advance.  But no more than a couple of days. We tend to get at least 100 corporate emails a day. Don’t let your emails get buried too far down in the list. That doesn’t mean that you don’t schedule a week or two in advance the meeting. Keep your request fresh in their inbox and in their mind.

Add graphical models to textual business requirements. People have many different learning styles. Create problem domain models; either a context diagram or a use case diagram to show what is in scope and what is out of scope. Back up the graphical representation of scope with an Is vs. Is-not list and a high-level feature list.

Separate the stakeholders. Some stakeholders you need their sign-off to show that the requirements support their needs. Some stakeholders just need to be informed. Be clear with those that you are informing them of a new solution and you are only looking for potential negative impacts. Don’t imply you need their signature. Be careful with your language choices.

Use a variety of planning and modeling techniques to help march your stakeholders toward creating, reviewing and signing off on a high-quality requirements document.

How do you improve requirements practices on your project? Any good sites out there that help you?

Rosemary Hossenlopp © 2007 All Rights Reserved


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