The process of determining the precise requirements for your project from beginning to end is known as requirements gathering. Although this procedure takes place during the project initiation phase, you will still need to manage your project requirements as the project progresses. In this guide to the requirements gathering process we will outline the key processes and demonstrate how that will lead to successful project outcomes. It is imperative the requirements gathering process is carried out with detailed attention as 50% of product defects originate from the requirements.
Assigning responsibilities to your project is the first stage in the requirements gathering process. You should determine who the project stakeholders are.
Any participant in the project, including internal and external partners, are referred to as a stakeholder. A project manager or a software developer are examples of internal stakeholders, whereas a customer is an external one. It will be easier to decide who should analyse your project scope later on if you first identify these roles. These professionals can assist you in determining the requirements and assets you require to achieve the project’s objectives.
Some common roles that may be involved in this process include:
- Project manager: This person is responsible for overall project management, including coordinating the requirements gathering process and ensuring that all stakeholders are involved.
- Business analyst: The business analyst is responsible for understanding the business needs and objectives of the project, and for gathering and documenting the requirements that will guide the development of the software.
- User representatives: These individuals, who may be users of the software or subject matter experts, provide input on the functional and non-functional requirements of the software.
- Technical team: This team, which may include developers, architects, and testers, provides input on the technical feasibility and implementation of the requirements.
- Sponsors and stakeholders: These individuals, who may include executive leadership and key decision-makers, provide guidance and support for the project, and help ensure that the requirements align with the overall business objectives.
By assigning these specific roles and involving all relevant stakeholders in the requirements gathering process, the development team can ensure that the software meets the needs of the business and its users.
Meet with your project stakeholders, once you’ve determined who they are, to learn more about what they expect from the project. Since stakeholders are who you are ultimately producing the end solution for it is important to understand what they want.
You should enquire about the following:
- What is the objective of this project?
- What in your opinion would ensure the success of this project?
- What worries you about this project?
- What would you like this good or service to do that it currently doesn’t?
- What modifications to this project would you suggest?
- Who are the users of the system?
- What are the feature requirements?
- What are the usability requirements?
- What are the security requirements?
- What are the performance requirements?
- What are the reliability requirements?
- What are the supportability requirements?
- What are the legal and regulatory requirements?
- What are the system requirements?
Gather and document every requirement
The third step of the guide to the requirements gathering process occurs at the same time as the second. As you interview your stakeholders, you will gather information. The objective is to document as much as you can.
Be transparent with requirements documentation
It is important to ensure all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the requirements. Therefore, once the requirements document is complete a meeting should be held so any questions can be discussed and clarified. The various stakeholders will sign-off the requirements documentation once an agreement has been made.
By creating wireframes customers are able to visualise what their product will look like. Read more about ‘The Benefits of Wireframes in Requirements Gathering,’ in a previous blog post.
Don’t make assumptions about requirements
During the meeting mentioned in the previous step, any assumptions stakeholders have, should be considered to establish that there is no miscommunication and everyone is working towards the same goal.
At this stage the timeframe of the project can be agreed upon. Clarifications surrounding the teams availability should be made clear and accounted for to avoid unnecessary delays to the project plan for example, taking holidays into account. While some criteria may only be applicable during specific project phases, others may be applicable for the duration of the project.
Identifying project requirements involves understanding your project risks. Determine which risks, such as, schedule delays, and a lack of funding, are most important. Plan a strategy meeting with your team to come up with ways to mitigate these risks.
Monitoring all this information ensures that overruns are less likely to occur and the project will more likely be a success.
Approval and sign-off off requirements
The outcome of the requirements gathering process is a requirements document. This serves as the single version of truth to be referred to throughout the project. As the project progresses, potential disagreements can occur on how the system is being developed or how it looks, in that instance, the requirements document which was approved and signed-off serves as the reference point to resolve any disputes. Throughout the project, the requirements document should be referenced to ensure development is progressing as agreed at the outset.
Requirements gathering is the most essential element of custom software development. Get the requirements wrong or inaccurate and the project is subject to problems and delays from the outset. In order to minimise overruns and project failure the requirements need to be captured accurately so all stakeholders are working towards the same end-goal. We hope this helps as an effective guide to the requirements gathering process.
Read our ‘Complete Guide to Requirements Gathering in 2023‘ for more!