What's the best way to organize the requirements process?

What's the best way to organize the requirements process?
The best way to organize the requirements process, without a doubt, is "with all deliberate care." Each project is unique, so the specifics of how you'll organize the requirements process activities will always be different. Nevertheless, the key to success is always the same: take sufficient time for planning, then manage according to your plan.

For starters, take the time to create a Requirements Management Plan. Scale the plan to the demands of the project, and be sure to have the project team and key stakeholders review, approve, and sign off on the plan. The requirements management plan will enable you to create requirements categories at the start, and gain consensus on how the requirements will be organized, sequenced, and prioritized, before the team becomes embedded in the details.

Putting together a requirements management plan will give you a chance to think through the types of requirements you'll need to elicit, document, and manage. It forces you to consider strategies for tracing the requirements back to the corresponding business needs. And it gives you an opportunity to think through how you can break down the work of gathering and documenting the requirements in the best way to meet the needs of the project. Finally, it will help you establish quality goals for the requirements at the start, and avoid conflicts down the road.

With your requirements management plan in hand, you'll do a better job of managing the requirements. You'll be less likely to overlook requirements categories, and better able to manage risks, issues, and changes as they occur. Finally, a consistently applied requirements management plan will enable you to answer the questions project managers most often ask:

  • What are you doing, and why? This is covered in the plan sections on the Purpose, Vision Statement, Scope of Document, etc.
  • How will you get it done? This is covered under Roles and Responsibilities, Tools, Processes, Naming Conventions, Glossary, etc.
  • What factors could prevent you from getting there—and what are you going to do about them? This is addressed in the sections on Risk and Change Management.
  • How will you know if you've been successful? See the plan sections on Quality Measures, and the descriptions of strategies for measuring and maintaining requirements quality.

If you think you'll be interested in moving between the roles of business analyst and project manager, it's a great resume builder to be able to show that you've developed and carried out a solid, successful requirements management plan.

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