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Managing Requirements

“Analysts report that as many as 71% of software projects that fail do so because of poor requirements management, making it the single biggest reason for project failure" - CIO magazine, Nov 15 2005

Managing requirements on software development projects has always been critical to the success of these types of projects. The tools and methods around these are well documented (try Google-ing “Requirement Management Tools”). However, Managing Requirements is rarely appears as an activity on system implementation projects.

System implementation methodologies will include the definition of requirements. For example, the SAP ASAP methodology (now incorporated in SAP Solution Manager) includes this during the Blueprinting Phase. However, this and most other implementation methodologies, assume that these requirements will not change. And in a perfect world, they will not, and you can design, develop, test and implement a business solution based on these stated requirements.

However, the world is not perfect!
People change their minds for many reasons, and do so on a regular basis. They'll be working with an existing system and realize that they missed a requirement. Or, during system build they'll realize that what they asked for really isn't what they want after all. If you try to "freeze" the requirements early in the lifecycle you pretty much guarantee that you won't build what people actually need, instead you'll build what they initially thought they wanted. That's not a great strategy for success.

Requirements management involves establishing and maintaining agreement between the business and the project team on both system and business related requirements. This agreement forms the basis for estimating, planning, performing, and tracking project activities throughout the project and for maintaining and enhancing the developed solution. Key activities include:

  • planning the requirements phase
  • establishing the requirements process
  • controlling requirements changes
  • minimizing the addition of new requirements (scope creep)
  • tracking progress - tracing built-to requirements against original requirements
  • resolving issues with customers and developers
  • holding requirements reviews
Ensuring that requirements are managed in projects assures that the system that is implemented most closely supports business requirements; and thus has the greatest chance of success.

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