This blog will highlight why you need to use software for requirements gathering and management in 2023.
Why Half of Software Development Projects Fail
70% of those failures, according to a different study by Info-Tech Research Group, are the result of requirements problems. Together, these two numbers indicate that 49% of digital transformation efforts will fail for lack of resources. That is nearly half!
We will now highlight why half of software development projects fail.
(Ab)use of agile methodology.
Agile methods are excellent. They can be utilised to quicken project development and possibly expedite delivery. However, we have noticed a concerning pattern where people adopt agile methodologies to avoid any prior requirements capture while working on complex processes within constrained budgets and timeframes.
We supposedly, agile teams don’t need to set upfront requirements because “it’s agile” Some businesses are able to function with relatively few requirements, such as a small start-up team with a clear idea of the product they are creating. However, we would strongly advise some extensive requirements capture for businesses that work for clients or internal IT departments that must satisfy the needs of internal stakeholders.
Lack of upfront specifications may result in a project without a clear budget or timeframe because businesses typically need to budget for projects and predict timeframes.
Project failure due to budget overruns is prevalent when the company lacks funding for the project.
It can be challenging to compile all of the project’s requirements. Since we are all only human, mistakes can be made by the implementation team and stakeholders. When needs are not properly gathered, some are missed, which leads to two issues:
- The project can take longer than anticipated to complete.
- Costs may rise above those budgeted.
Missing needs are typically found as a project is being implemented. People start to recognise items that have been neglected as projects progress. This may result in unanticipated activities, and in the worst circumstances, undiscovered missing needs may conflict with recorded requirements and necessitate rework. Research by Info-Tech Research Group found that 50% of rework was due directly to requirements problems. That’s a lot of time and money spent.
Lack of detail in requirements
Lack of depth in requirements can lead to issues, which is slightly related to missing requirements. While this might be compared to missing requirements, there can occasionally be a complacency that all the requirements have been documented and approved by the business stakeholders, but because of a lack of clarity or detail, the project’s estimate and timeframes may be exceeded due to the additional work required.
Although we wouldn’t classify this as being as terrible as not meeting the requirements, the lack of detail might suddenly start making each component of the system more laborious. For instance, if the need to store and list a client was only described at a high level, then the specifics like needing a photo and video of the client or conducting some form of credit check on the client may add extra work and cost that wasn’t expected when timetables and budgets were set.
Not enough attention paid to non-functional requirements
A project implementation can fail if non-functional requirements are not given enough attention. What are the criteria for reliability, performance, security, and accessibility, for instance. What platforms or browser versions do you plan to support with your website or mobile application? We are aware of one business who successfully outsourced the development of a web application for their business. Unfortunately, no one informed the outsourcing firm that the web application was provided in Angular and that React was the client’s preferred technology. The application had to be rewritten at the client’s expense because they were unable to support it.
Inexperienced business analysts and stakeholders frequently fail to specify crucial system components in non-functional and requirements documents. Again, this may have an impact on timelines and budgets.
Stakeholders and the implementation team can benefit greatly from making sure that structured questions are asked in respect to non-functional needs because it will force them to consider and begin to define requirements to specify these areas of the system.
Disadvantages of Using a Spreadsheet for Requirements Gathering
Businesses often utilise spreadsheets to gather requirements before the start of a project. Managing requirements is harder as your project develops and the project’s requirements change along with it. This is why using a spreadsheet to gather criteria might become unnecessarily difficult.
There is no doubting spreadsheets’ ubiquity. They can be used by any company in a variety of teams. They can be utilised for a variety of jobs in all industries. Spreadsheets are very easy to use and cost nothing.
Spreadsheets can’t scale well as your project grows. A spreadsheet has very little to no transparency due to data inconsistency caused by multiple revisions of the same document, making it very difficult to trace back to the original requirements.
Teams may still use spreadsheets to gather requirements for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Any form of change is disliked by people. The same holds true for project teams. Despite its shortcomings, teams prefer to stick with their ineffective software rather than switch to something better.
- Changing to new software usually has some cost, however little. The majority of businesses prefer to forgo the time and effort required for researching, testing, and enrolling in new software.
- The project management software being used is largely out of the project teams’ control.
What are the disadvantages of using a spreadsheet to gather requirements?
If you use spreadsheets to gather requirements, a different task management system to allocate work to your team members, or email to exchange papers, your project data will be divided. A project team member would need to be assigned the task of manually compiling this data in a different traceability document, which they would then be in charge of maintaining during the project’s duration. Your resources would be wasted using this time-consuming strategy when they could have been put to better use.
If the team members treat this document badly, the rest of your project will suffer, costing you time and going over budget.
One of the main problems with spreadsheets is that there is no traceability. Once the data has been uploaded and team members have access to it, it is difficult to remember who made modifications, when they were made, and what the changes were. You will lose any version control you may have had over the accuracy of your data.
When the changing requirements throughout the project cycle are recorded in the same spreadsheet, it can be difficult to tell which criteria were the original and which were the most current. Even if you do create a new document for the new requirement, keeping track of these documents becomes a completely new issue.
As your projects grow and become more complex, spreadsheet programmes like Excel become less useful over time. Even though doing these assignments in real-time will allow you to work with your team mates, it will be challenging.
Spreadsheets can’t be altered in any way. In addition to the software industry standards, many other sectors also gather requirements before beginning a project. It would be better to use specialised requirements software.
The chances of a project succeeding are increased by using a variety of software and methods to gather and track requirements. Even if there are new requirements or modifications to the old ones, updates to requirements in software retain traceability and reduce the probability of project failure.
Project teams and project management processes have both evolved. Regardless of where they are located, the teams should be able to advance the project and finish the task on time.
Spreadsheet team collaboration has a number of challenges. In the modern workplace, sharing a requirements spreadsheet with other team members is not a competitive advantage. Teams must speak more regularly and thoroughly with one another.
Spreadsheets are substantially less versatile for being requirements management tools than software. Spreadsheets, unlike software, are not intended for requirement collection.
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.
Software may be useful for the requirements gathering process for a number of reasons. When we refer to “software,” we imply programmes that do more than just serve as word processors.
According to Technova, requirements errors are accountable for 80% of rework.
We will now highlight the benefits of using requirements software:
Improving discovery of requirements
The skill and expertise of the person or team acquiring requirements generally determines the calibre of the requirements capture. Due to the variety of persons working on the assignment, one project may be very well defined and detailed while another is hazy and poorly defined.
An example of this might be someone gathering requirements for a system and recording the following requirement item.
- The user should be able to login
- The user should be able to logout
This might seem simple and straightforward and obviously more details would be provided in a ‘real’ requirements document. However an inexperienced analyst might leave the requirements like this whereas an experienced analyst would add a third requirement:
- The user should have access to a ‘Forget Password’ feature.
Whilst Word templates and checklists can be used to get better requirements coverage, software can be more flexible in the workflow of using requirements gathering tools and features beyond a simple template.
Process and quality improvement
The requirements gathering procedure will be standardised through collaboration features the use of software. Teams will produce requirements gathering specifications that are more successful and consistent if they follow a systematic method that is consistent throughout. The knowledge of an organisation may be largely restricted to its employees. An automated method of acquiring requirements helps streamline the procedure into a standardised process which less experienced staff can follow. This will help the business maintain a more reliable and high-quality requirements gathering process while making it more resilient to employee changes.
More accurate documentation and clarity
Even with the best templates, requirements gathering can occasionally provide ambiguous needs. For instance, the need “A user can create a new job” might be universal for a system, but if the system includes many user kinds (such as system administrators, office staff, and field workers), the first requirement gathering might never be obvious that only specific categories of users can carry out this action. When this problem is uncovered, it may cause misunderstandings, delays, and project overruns.
Another advantage of requirements collecting software is better requirements documentation. It is conceivable and simple for a member of the organisation to edit, amend, or delete certain sections of a document using basic document templates. Software can guarantee the production of a specific requirements document and the completion of each section. Some requirements analysis software can provide estimates, a list of the tasks necessary to develop the product, requirements documentation, and more.
Stakeholders and the development team will be less likely to overlook important requirements by having a clear and accurate document defining the requirements of a project. It has been demonstrated that improving the project requirements, will lessen the likelihood of inaccurate estimating, project overruns, and possibly project failure.
Multiple stakeholders can participate in the requirements gathering process in real-time thanks to requirements gathering software, which helps enhance coordination and collaboration. Some systems for streamline requirements gathering and collecting may even enable non-technical stakeholders to finish the initial draught of requirements by posing the appropriate questions in the manner of a “robot business analyst.”
When requirements are gathered using software, it is simpler to track and trace the process, including who contributed what and when. This can assist guarantee that all needs are correctly accounted for and documented.
Version control features are frequently found in requirements software, which can be useful for managing changes to requirements over time. When working on extensive, complex tasks, this can be quite helpful.
Ease of use
As requirements software is often user-friendly and simple to use, stakeholders—who may not be technical—who might not be familiar with the requirements gathering process may find it easier to contribute.
In comparison to using manual techniques, adopting software for requirements collecting can speed up the process and save time. Instead of the user having to manually type these criteria into a Word document or support ticket, an application can generate a set of specific requirements from a simple yes/no question.
Requirements gathering is a heavily overlooked area of software development. Read more on this in our other blog ‘Requirements Gathering is the Most Undertaught Area in Software Development.’ You will have a competitive advantage by adopting requirements software because it will make sure that your projects are more successful. The typical software project overrun is 33%, with requirements problems accounting for a large portion of that. Organisations can become more effective and possibly cut project costs and timelines by better capturing needs.
Overall, using software for the requirements gathering process can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the process, leading to better outcomes for the project.
The Importance of Centralising Your Requirements in One Platform
Centralising requirements on one platform by utilising software is hugely beneficial, in order to improve productivity and project success.
Centralisation of requirements creates a single point of reference, allowing project contributors to trust that they are accessing and using the most up to date information relating to the various project goals.
Some of the specific benefits include:
- Guided process: by following a structured format, your project will begin to take shape and include all the details you need to fully implement your project.
- Output reports: a system which generates a report laying out all of the information you need to jump into delivering your project ensures you can easily share documentation with all stakeholders. .
- Integration to project management tools: the ability for automatically generate tasks within a project management platform optimises communication and collaboration.
The Benefits of Using Wireframes in Software Requirements Gathering
Wireframes are streamlined visual depictions of a user interface that can be used to describe a software application’s design and layout. On each page of a system’s interface, they specify precisely which data, content, and control elements should be included. By developing logical interactions with the user interface (UI), wireframes aid in improving the user experience. They are frequently employed during the requirements gathering stage of a software project since they can aid in the clarification and validation of the project’s requirements. There are several benefits of using wireframes in software requirements gathering, including the following:
The project team’s ability to communicate with one another and with the client can be enhanced with the use of wireframes. The project team may more clearly communicate their thoughts and design concepts by developing wireframes. The client can then offer comments and recommendations. By doing this, you can make sure that everyone is on the same page and that the project’s needs are well-defined.
Better understanding of project scope
The team’s comprehension of the project scope can also be enhanced with the aid of wireframes. Wireframes help the project team visualise the user interface’s overall structure and layout as well as the specific features and functions that are part of the project. This can aid the team in better comprehending the project’s scope and preventing scope creep.
Additionally, the development process can be accelerated by using wireframes at the requirements gathering stage. The project team may more easily spot possible problems and alter the design by developing wireframes before the actual coding gets started. This can prevent the need for rework and keep the project on track, which can save time and effort later on in the project.
Enhanced user experience
Finally, employing wireframes helps improve the software application’s user experience. By developing wireframes and soliciting client input. The design can also be improved, and the project team can quickly spot any possible usability problems. The software’s end users may benefit from an improved user experience as a result.
How Requirements Management Software Saves You Money
We will now highlight the reasons why requirements software will save you money.
Reclaiming Productive Work Time
Requirements software helps your staff recover hours of lost productivity, which reduces costs across the board for the company. Without a modern requirements and management solution, highly experienced and frequently highly rewarded employees could waste their time on tedious, unnecessary duties like:
- Searching for separated information with disjointed tools or static content.
- Manually updating task statuses and entering data into various systems.
- Using outdated data and document versions.
- Transferring and reformatting data between tools.
- Trying to understand “what changed?” and assess the results.
By preventing errors resulting from missed requirements, using a requirements software will expedite the process of developing software, and save you time over the duration of a project. One out of four software developers is engaged in unplanned work. This exemplifies how time and resources can be lost due to ineffective requirements collection.
How much money do you lose out on because of rework? Common examples of causes of rework are:
- Incorrectly formulated requirements.
- Inadequate stakeholder alignment and review.
- Inadequate effect analysis and rigour in change management.
- Changing late-stage requirements.
If requirements are properly defined at the start, there will be less of a need to change them mid-way-through the project.
Identifying Defects Earlier in the Development Process
Does your business produce complex software and systems? How much of your expenditures might you cut if you fixed issues sooner? Software flaws can be found and fixed as a result of:
- Early in the development lifecycle, there was a lack of discipline.
- Low stakeholder involvement in requirements definition and validation.
- A lack of transparency on effect assessments and necessary changes.
- Requirements software gives you the opportunity to track modifications and, in the end, save money by lowering overruns.
Providing a Better User Experience
By using a requirements gathering tool or software, your company will be able to offer your clients a better service by streamlining and organising the requirements gathering process. Even someone with little experience in software development may easily comprehend and visualise the guided process of the programme due to its nature. By lowering the possibility of overruns, this will help you save money.
Optimising Communication and Collaboration
Requirements software can optimise communication for both developers and their customers. There are several features to look for in a software product which can achieve this:
- Guided process: by following a structured format, your project will begin to take shape and include all the details you need to fully understand your project.
- Output reports: generate a report which details all the information you need to jump into delivering your project, providing a shareable overview of the project.
- Create wireframes: remove the time dedicated to the creation of wireframes from your projects by generating wireframes automatically from your requirements to provide a visual representation of your project from a click of a button.
- Jira Ticket integration: with Jira being the preferred choice for software development project management, a product which integrates with Jira to produce tickets based on the requirements gathered saves time and optimises communication and collaboration.
- Estimations: the final piece in the jigsaw is to provide customers with cost estimation, a tool which can produce this automatically from requirements gathering advances and speeds up the process.
Despite the current economic situation investing in requirements software is still worth while in the long run.
Regardless of the health of the economy, businesses that create complex products, systems, and software may always benefit from enhanced efficiency across the whole development process. By implementing strategic changes which enhance team productivity and processes, your company is likely to save a sizable amount of time and money.
Despite the unpredictability of the economy, investing in the right tools can increase output and improve product quality, positioning your business for long-term time and cost savings. However, regardless of what happens with the economy, it will never be a waste of time to enhance your product development processes or begin making plans for how to deal with the repercussions of an impending economic downturn.