To be a requirements management rock star, you need to know requirements management inside out. This article will give you insights that will help you on your journey to mastering the art of managing requirements.
What is requirements management?
Requirements are capabilities that are needed by a stakeholder to deliver a product or a service. Requirements Management is an iterative set of activities that help to ensure requirements are appropriately handled during the project lifecycle in a way to achieve high quality and to meet customers’ expectation. It involves requirements documentation, elicitation, refinement, and changes to the requirements.
What are the benefits of managing requirements?
By working in a structured way with the requirements management, you achieve multiple business benefits:
- Cost reduction – by knowing what to build and only spend efforts where it counts
- Quality improvement – enabling yourself to truly test your results based on the defined requirements
- Time-saving – by not wasting time on requirements that never should have been implemented
- Risk reduction – by knowing what you do and why
- Improved scope management – by being in control
Requirements Management in an organization
Requirements Management is not just a nitty-gritty process. It is of utmost strategic importance and how you connect your business to the outputs you want to create:
- At the level of Strategic planning, the business requirements are defined and quantified.
- At the level of portfolio, business requirements are leveraged to link the strategy to the portfolio of change.
- The business and stakeholder requirements define the scope of the project and the criteria for success.
- Non-functional requirements and transition requirements are used to build and deploy a solution.
- The business and stakeholder requirements also help in continuous improvements.
The best time to manage requirements is during strategic planning and all the way through the execution. However, in the real-world, requirements management often is delayed until the start of the project. This is one of the reasons many organizations despite having good strategic planning fail to realize the benefits. There is no time as such when you should not be thinking about requirements management.
Requirements Management Plan
A requirements management plan comprises of:
- Stakeholders’ roles & responsibility
- Requirements management process
- Requirements type definition
- Requirements mapping
- Name & number convention
- Requirements prioritization
- Requirements traceability
- Requirements version control
- Requirements change control
- Communication strategy for requirement changes
- Requirements management tools
Let’s dive in the details of each component of the requirements management plan:
Stakeholders’ roles & responsibility
There are many people who are involved in overall requirements management. Everyone has a different view of the project requirements, so it is crucial that everyone collaborates with each other on the requirements. Requirements Management Plan helps to define and engage all the stakeholders to help them know their role in the requirements and the moment they will be typically involved.
By identifying the stakeholders, you can easily define and verify the requirements management process.
Requirements management process
The requirement management process initiates with identifying stakeholders. It then moves to gather requirements, analyzing them and then documenting them. Then baseline requirements groups are formed that agree and sign-off on requirements.
The requirements are communicated to the developers and designers. The next step is to track the requirements and manage the changes to the requirements. The last step of the requirements management process is to report requirements compliance.
The requirement management process forms a critical part of requirement management plan.
The initial requirements with a business focus are mapped into detailed requirements with a technical focus. This enables a hierarchy of requirements which helps to categorize types of requirements.
The documents that contain requirements along with any information useful for stakeholders are called requirements artifacts. It is critical to know early on in the process which artifacts are to be produced and which have been produced.
The key requirement attributes for each requirement is as follows
- Requirement identifier (unique)
- Requirement title
- Requirement description
- Requirement version number
- Requirement type
- Requirement change history
- Requirement status
- Requirement priority
- Requirement owner
- Requirement links
- Requirement process
Requirements traceability is a way to help to understand why the requirements exist, the impact of change and prioritize requirements. Traceability initiates at business requirements, moves to benefits, stakeholder requirements and then drill down into testing scenarios and test cases.
Requirements versioning deals with documenting and maintaining the changes made to a specific requirement. The version control helps to ensure that the project team is working with exact same requirement. Requirements versioning also helps to determine why and how a requirement has changed over time.
The requirements baseline helps to compare different versions of requirements over a period of time. A project should have a baseline strategy which includes terms of requirements creation, content, their frequency, and publishing. It helps in communicating changes to all the stakeholders.
A baseline document can have predefined project milestones with formal acceptance of requirements. It can also be informal wherein there is an agreement between project team members on requirements at a particular point in time.
Communication strategy for requirements changes
A communications strategy helps in auditing the requirements to ensure that the delivered solution is in exact alignment with the requirements. This is very important while working with internal or external stakeholders in complex projects. A good communication strategy comes handy while communicating changes.
Requirements Management Tool
A requirements management tool will help you at every step in the requirements management process by:
- Managing requirement version and content changes
- Storing requirement attributes
- Linking requirements to other system elements
- Providing multiple views of groups of requirements based on their attribute values
- Monitoring the state of each requirement or groups of requirements
- Controlling access to requirements and therefore, preventing unauthorized changes
- Facilitating the communication of requirements to requirement stakeholders
Without requirements management in the early stages, you run a big risk of not connecting the business needs to your project deliverables. This many times leads to scope creep, projects that are overdue or over budget and also many times not delivering on the customer needs.
Requirement Management should always be at the front seat of any project and an integral part of the planning, implementation and the operations phase. As a requirements management expert, you connect strategies to predictable outcomes. This is why you are a rock star.
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