This blog post will highlight why businesses should not be using a spreadsheet for requirements gathering.
Why Do Teams Still Use Spreadsheets?
Spreadsheets are frequently used in businesses to collect requirements prior to the start of a project. As your project advances and the project needs change along with it, managing requirements becomes more challenging. This is why it can become overly complicated when using a spreadsheet for requirements gathering
There is no denying the universality of spreadsheets. Any organisation can employ them in a variety of teams. They can be used across all industries, for a number of tasks. Additionally, spreadsheets are cost-free and simple to use.
Spreadsheets, however, don’t scale well as your project develops. With data inconsistency brought on by several versions of the same document, there is little to no transparency in a spreadsheet, making it very impossible to track back to the original requirements.
There are several reasons to why teams may still using a spreadsheets for requirements gathering:
- People detest changes of any kind. This also applies to project teams. Teams would rather continue using their inefficient software than move to something better, despite its flaws.
- Changing to new software typically will cost, no matter how minimal. Researching, testing, and signing up for new software requires time and effort, which is something that most firms prefer to avoid.
- Project teams have little to no control over the project management software that is employed.
What are the disadvantages of using a spreadsheet to gather requirements?
Your project data will be separated if you use spreadsheets to collect requirements, a different task management platform to assign work to your team members, or email to exchange documents. You would need to designate a project team member to manually compile this data in a different traceability document, which they would then be responsible for maintaining during the project’s lifespan. This time-consuming approach would waste your resources when they could have been better used elsewhere.
The rest of your project will suffer if this document is treated improperly by the team members, which will cost you time and cause you to go over budget.
The absence of traceability in spreadsheets is one of its key drawbacks. It is challenging to keep track of who made changes, when they were made, and what the changes were once the data has been uploaded and team members have access to it. Any version control you had over your data and its accuracy will be lost.
It can be confusing to determine which criteria were the original and which were the most recent when the changing requirements throughout the project cycle are recorded in the same spreadsheet. Keeping track of these documents becomes an entirely new hassle even if you do produce a new document for the new criteria.
Spreadsheet systems like Excel become less effective over time as your projects increase and become more sophisticated. Working on these papers in real-time will be difficult despite the fact that it will let you collaborate with your team members.
Spreadsheets don’t have the ability to be customised. There are many other industries besides just the software sector that gather requirements before starting a project. A specialised requirements management software would be more appropriate.
Using a variety of software and methods to collect requirements improves a project’s chances of success. Updates to requirements in software maintain traceability and lessen the likelihood of project failure, even if there are new needs or changes to the existing ones.
Both the project teams and how project management operates have changed. The teams should be able to advance the project and complete the job on schedule regardless of where they are located.
Team collaboration with spreadsheets presents a variety of difficulties. Working on the same requirements spreadsheet with several team members is not a competitive advantage in the workplace of today. Teams must communicate with one another more frequently and with in-depth information.
In comparison to software, spreadsheets are significantly less flexible for requirements management. Spreadsheets are not designed for requirements gathering unlike software. Software will have features which cam aid the requirements gathering process for example generating wireframes.
Learn more about ‘The Benefits of Using Wireframes in Software Requirements Gathering.’
In order for your business not to fall behind and face costly mistakes it is crucial you no longer are using a spreadsheet for requirements gathering and management. Using software for requirements gathering will not only be significantly easier but will save you time and money. For more read ‘Why You Need to Use Software for Requirements Gathering and Management in 2023.’