Why is requirements management a significant criterion for your project success?

You probably know it from your business environment – an important IT project has to be started at short notice and preferably completed yesterday. Whether it is the introduction of a new system, the changed regulatory requirements or the implementation of additional risk controlling processes – nowadays all IT changes bring high complexity and tight deadlines.

Professional requirements management ensures the implementation of the right functionalities with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders. This raises some important questions regarding the procedure for setting up successful requirements management, which we will discuss below.

When should I start requirements management?

The general rule is – the sooner, the better. If you start requirements gathering before the project begins, you give yourself a big advantage – you can make a detailed effort estimate for many topics early on and create and refine your project plan based on that. With an accompanying prioritization, you can identify the most important issues and schedule them accordingly. In addition, you ensure that your stakeholders are fully informed and involved at the start of the project. Everyone is “on the same page,” so to speak.

If you do not have sufficient resources for requirements analysis in your already running project, we would recommend you to catch up as soon as possible. It pays off. Because this saves you effort and resources to adapt missing or not correctly or incompletely developed functionalities.

What do I need to consider when running agile project management?

Professional requirements management is just as advisable for agile projects as for classic ones. However, depending on the project method, there are differences that need to be considered. For example, in the waterfall method, it is advisable to gather all requirements as early as possible in order to be able to plan the contents of the further project phases in a meaningful way. In Scrum projects, on the other hand, the requirements can be specified and refined in each sprint as a user story.

How do I deal with changes in requirements?

The requirements are usually not constant and often change during the different project phases. In itself, requirement adjustments should not be viewed negatively. On the contrary – it shows that you are following the changes in your organization at all times and ensuring that they are not only written down, but also lived. Requirements management goes hand in hand with the change management process to address all requirements changes in the development process along with any necessary implementation adjustments. This ensures that they are approved and documented – in other words, that they follow an orderly process that everyone involved is aware of.

How are stakeholders involved in the requirements process?

A project usually involves a change – an old system is replaced and a new system is introduced, new internal processes are established, etc. The success of these changes mostly depends on whether they are accepted by your employees and other stakeholders. To ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction, you need to make sure that everyone has a good understanding of exactly what is being changed and what the benefits will be. The presentation of the requirements plays an important role. In practice, requirements are often formulated only in natural language. A useful addition is additional modeling and documentation – e.g., in the form of and-or trees, use cases, entity-relationship diagrams, data flow diagrams, etc. The model-based representation has the advantage that the stakeholders have all the information in front of them and it is easier to understand.

One of the goals of requirements management is to ensure that stakeholders are involved in all steps of the requirements process and not only accompany the change process, but also help shape it. They are the key informants in requirements elicitation and validation and can help decide which requirements tools to use.

Conclusion

With structured and professional requirements management, you are on the right path to success and have already laid the first important milestone so that the changes in your organization or product are not only implemented, but also lived.[SH2] Tool-based support would additionally help you to better structure the various tasks involved in requirements management. We would recommend that you perform a cost-benefit evaluation and use appropriate tools to manage, validate, and model requirements, ideally integrated with your existing change management, development, and testing processes. This ensures that everything is sufficiently documented, understandable and accessible, and that your stakeholders are always up-to-date.

Galina Engelhardt
Manager

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