Requirements gathering is one of the most crucial stages in project management. The process of requirements gathering takes place the entire time the project is underway. Requirements gathering is supposed to continue concurrently for the entire life cycle of the project. Ideally, you will expect that these requirements be collected before the onset of the project. Realistically, you cannot have everything you need. The best way forward is tackle incoming challenges as the project moves.
Best practices in project requirements gathering process depends on how well you run the entire project. If you follow the steps keenly, and to the latter, then you are on the ‘best practice’ side. How would you know if you are doing well if you don’t know the steps taken through project requirements gathering process? Here we explore them.
- Take notes
- Go over creative requirements
- Make annotations
- Highlight requirements
- Provide the requirements document
- Hold an internal review
- Engage the stakeholders
- Do not skip any requirements or make any assumptions
- Practice active listening.
1. Take Notes
the success of your requirements collection expedition is hugely hinged upon your ability to write down everything you come across that relates to the project you are undertaking. Usually, secretaries do take notes in meetings. However, to ensure you capture every bit if crucial detail placed out there, you need your own pen and a notebook.
Most importantly, you need to caption action items being thrown out there that may need clarification. Besides, you also need to take notes so that you don’t pass on those details that require extra research, consultation or further discussion.
You’ll find great articles on superb note-taking strategies. You might want to grab some of these for your benefit. On the other hand, you can feed on these recommended note-taking procedures.
- Start your note taking with some notes. To ensure good organization, don’t enter the meeting without your notebook having the action points which include the agenda of the meeting. On this manual, you want to ensure that you have clearly spelled out points on what your team members thinks are pertinent issues to be solved. In other terms, you need to highlight your teams concerns for presentation, such that whatever is addressed is also recorded alongside the problems. This creates a straightforward account easy for team members to follow up.
- After the meeting, give yourself some “alone-time” with the notes. Take about 10 to 15 minutes alone with the notes and internalize the findings and discussions as you note the red flags or points that raise further concern. The next stage will need your expertise, and you need to be on point during presentation.
- The next step is involving your internal project team. Here, the notes are further scrutinized for any red flags. The action points are verified and seconded.
- From your team, these notes are sent to your client.
- If approved, these notes lay the foundation for creation of new tasks and builds a leeway for further discussions on future action items or those that raised eyebrow in the previous document.
- Finally, you need your entire team on the project to know what transpired so that all resolutions are implemented accordingly. Therefore, the notes are then shared on shareable devises such through Google Drive and Dropbox. It becomes a reference book for easy confirmation.
2. Go Over Creative Requirements
In more cases than you will care to admit, a developer will need a designer to finish up with their creations before they swing into action. This has been the norm in any project. In construction, you will need designs from architects. In software development, a developer needs designs from the designer. In fashion, a couturier needs to work on the designs from the designer. Therefore, for any project to begin, you will require the creative part of it to be ready.
The availability of designs makes developers move seamlessly. At the very least, ensure that you provide a style guide to the team members. A design guide is invaluable to developers and helps in giving a definite direction to them rather than guessing ways out of a tricky situation.
Once you gather the designs for your project – and, remember, we have long term and short term goals, which calls for the entire project’s designs and periodical designs; post these creatives on shared spaces for easy access. Also, save these files separate from old ones. The folder should contain current and future assets not old ones to minimize on confusion.
This stage also allows all the stakeholders to collaborate more actively and conclusively. Besides, the only way to eliminate confusion and assumptions in development is creating a conclusive design. Saving in a sharable drive helps everyone to input their contribution that ultimately affects the production and implementation phases.
Here, you will need to save the image designs with notes on each segment for easy comprehension. Annotation is an excellent organizational tool in any project development. Project managers use this to make sense of the designs and project requirements acquired and uses it for guidance.
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Remember, this is not the stage to bombard our team members with new information. You are only simplifying already agreed upon notes on the designs and other project requirements.
4. Highlight The Requirements Needed For Each Stage
Of the entire project, you will need to divide it into stages for easy administration. Therefore, you will need to run an inclusive project requirements gathering process to ensure compliance from all fronts.
Study the project, notice the red flags, and seek ways to remedy these faults in time before you get to that stage in development. One strength of a project manager is to detect and repair faults that may slow or hamper the progress of a project. One way of doing so is by highlighting the necessary requirements you need.
5. Provide Requirements Documentation
Here, you need to ready the requirements manual. Do you now remember we stressed on the importance of notetaking? Anything in project management requires noting down. This so happens because at a future date, you will need them.
In this document, you need to provide well displayed requirements for each stage. This includes notes and annotation on every element.
6. Hold An Internal Review
Here, you are presenting the requirements draft to your team. This meeting will help you go through the document together ironing out any emerging issues. Remember, this is the last stage when you get to go through balances and checking the project’s implementation.
This step can’t be stressed much further since you as the manager is carrying the client’s expectations, which can only be met through correct implementation. Since whatever is in this document tells of your understanding of the project entirely, your comprehension is the success of the project and ultimately the happiness and satisfaction of your clients.
If it is possible, have your team review the entire report on requirements and seek their feedback. While meeting them, let them express their findings and propose viable solutions to improve the document.
Afterwards, make the necessary changes on the document and send it back to your team members for the final blessing before marking the revised version as the final report on the project’s requirements. Save the copy as a PDF file and rest.
7. Engage The Stakeholders: Hold An External Review
At this point, you already have a final document on project requirements, build out tasks with this report, and confirmed the timeline in comparison with the previous projected period.
You should now present it to the stakeholders. Hand this report alongside any other documentation to your client to act as insurance at a later date. The main reason for the meeting with your client is to go through the report together educating them of its contents. Afterwards, its time you got a formal go-ahead with the project. Always ensure this formal approval involves signing such that signatures are physically seen.
8. Do Not Skip Any Requirements Or Make Any Assumptions
Getting into the habit of continues skipping or assuming details in the requirements gathering ultimately spoils the whole project. One wrong committed in the initial stages of the project development process results in a faulty project. Suppositions alter your results. For example, when one was conducting a research about what is the main reason that is killing domesticated animals in an area then he or she assumed that there being a disease and left out the requirement for testing the disease, this will then mean that the disease will not be tested and hence it is not going to be considered yet it adds up to the death toll of the domesticated animals. Hence, assuming or assumptions will not go well while working out your project.
As the project manager, after writing down the objectives, listing down, and highlighting the requirements, you should follow through with confirmation.
Confirmation is done to see whether things are correctly noted and written down. It is crucial in the sense that if one thing is omitted it can be corrected and added. If something was added and is not supposed to be there it can be removed. Having small mistakes is very normal and it is human nature, so confirmation helps to reduce the number of mistakes and makes the work close to perfect.
Making your work perfect will make your project very understandable and, also acceptable to the stallholders and the audience. The relevant people are accepting the essence of a project, if not, the project would have failed.
No one desires for his or her project to be branded as a failed one, so it is very necessary for you to confirm your project work before proceeding.
10. Practice Active Listening
Project managements involves a lot other than planning, spearheading, leading and supervising. You are literally dealing with people. To ensure the success of your project, learn to put this resource to better use, and to better moods.
A leader’s prowess is not determined by the number of people below them, but how motivated are these people to give their all towards success of the project in hand. The main secret is ensuring these individuals feel appreciated and that their input into the project is invaluable. You can ensure this by;
Be an active listener
Here is how to be an active listener.
- Taking down notes
Turns out, other than noting down to be a future reminder, writing down notes is a way of showing courtesy. Whenever your team member approaches you on matters project, it is advisable to note down their concerns. It doesn’t matter how junior they are, make point of researching on this and getting back to them.
- Asking questions
Questions are used to clarify the points that have not been understood, or seem ambiguous. So the point will be driven home in the desired way. Encourage this amongst the team for better collaboration.
If the speaker asks a question you should be able to respond. It may also include the cues like nodding to show the speaker you are following them. It also gives them the morale to continue giving you more information
- Maintaining eye contact
Eye contact is very vital because you will be able to see all the cues that are made by the speakers. Sometimes the actions made makes more sense. One should be on the look out.
The Bottom Line
This article was based on good practices a project manager should follow while implementing requirements gathering process. It goes without saying that this stp is vital for the project to start and run seamlessly. To ensure this, one has to be versed with the expectations and pressure of the work. Otherwise, sufficient experience goes a long way in helping out with this situation. Follow these steps and practices, and realize a successful ride.