How do you collect the requirements and what is the process for gathering PMI Requirements? A PMP ‘Collect Requirements Process’ is an important tool to utilize when managing scope. Along with supporting and keeping in sync with the stakeholders, whose needs and requirements are imperative to building a successful project, the project must also be designed and organized in an efficient and correct way. The collect requirements process gathers everything a stakeholder needs for the project to be a success.
There is a lot to discuss when it comes to the Collect requirement process including techniques, tools and methodologies. It is important not to rush through outlining these details for a project. When dealing with scope, it’s important to remember that without management, it could easily grow beyond the capabilities of the team. Scope management allows you to create borders and boundaries within the project to ensure the project’s scope does not expand to levels that create inefficiency, cost increases, and potentially project failure. It’s also an imperative part of the closure processes of the project.
Stakeholders and how they impact Collect Requirements Processes
What exactly is a requirement, and why is it so important for stakeholders? The PMBOK explains requirements as “What Stakeholders expect from a project” . These requirements must be collected, organized and demonstrated to the stakeholders to ensure a successful project. After finalizing requirements, these have to be included in the scope and observed as the project progresses.
Now, let’s take a look at a few example project requirements. We can use an Ecommerce fashion store for this demonstration:
- Requirement 1: Backups must be taken at 3am as this is the time with the lowest volume of users on the website. A stakeholder that is connected to the operationional aspect of the website could be requesting specific requirements to avoid prolonged downtime when many potential sales may be made.
- Requirement 2: Between 2000 and 2500 users need to be able to utilize the website, performing Ecommerce shopping functions as they would expect to without any problems occuring due to the amount of users online all at once. A capacity manager or webmaster could have this as one of their requirements.
- Requirement 3: The homepage must load within 1 second. Due to the importance of bounce rates in relation to website conversions, having a slow loading website can turn away many visitors, making it so thousands of dollars invested into advertising may be wasted, as such the speed of the store is critical. This could be a requirement from the department related to customer support.
Of course there would usually be many more requirements and this is just a small sample to demonstrate how and why these requirements exist.
The project charter is used to record and store all of the top level requirements. This charter is developed at the start of the project and all the requirements should be placed into the plan at this time. However, oftentimes stakeholders will request that extra requirements be included when new information or changes to the project occur. Because of this, it’s important that the collect requirements process has a system in place not only to accept these additional requirements, but to also properly sort and organize them.
Tools and Techniques for Collecting of Requirements
Weaknesses must be addressed, and it’s better that they’re found earlier rather than later. Requirements Management is there to prevent scope issues from creating weaknesses, so it’s important to understand how critical Collecting Requirements activities are spelled out in the management of a project.
There are many tools, techniques and methods for collecting requirements in project management that can be used. Below we have listed some resources to help you take advantage of these.
Collecting Requirement Technique – Interview
Interviewing is no longer limited to in-person meetings, but can be done through phone calls, virtual meetings and even via emails over time. Through these interviews a Project Manager is able to connect with a stakeholder to collect and understand the requirements they need and expect their department to require.
It’s recommended to enter these meetings with a pre-existing and organized agenda to stay on topic and ensure the project requirements are fully divulged. However free form discussion is also beneficial to helping develop the requirements list.
Collecting Requirement Technique – Focus Groups
Another collect requirement technique is the focus group. A focus group is created to gain a particular set of stakeholders’ requirements. For example; you may be able to assemble a meeting with key people in the business at a high level to collect their requirements before moving on to the requirements of stakeholders below them. Separate meetings can be done with other groups such as department heads, managers and even individuals associated with the project to get a thorough list of requirements, that can be organized and ordered according to the seniority of the focus group and its importance to the project as a whole.
3) Collection Requirement Technique – Facilitated Workshops
Stakeholders with viewpoints that are not aligned are invited to sit down together in facilitated workshops. Imagine that you’ll manage an app project. You can bring software developers, the operation team, analysts, test engineers, and customers together. Every project stakeholders group will look at the project from their own angle and explain their point of view and why their requirement is needed. For example, the operation department head will think about how the project will affect and be affected by operations, customer service will focus on the user experience and how that will affect their workflow, with the requirements based on communication with the users while the app developers will point out the more complex, internal and logical parts of the project such as the development itself, the needed software, hardware, licenses and equipment needed to actually develop it.
4) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Brainstorming
Brainstorming is nothing new, many learn in school when involved in group projects, but this can also be a very effective method of Collecting Requirements. This is different from Focus Groups as individuals join together to explain their requirements, but rather than pitching their case to ensure it is taken into account, the purpose is to look for and develop new requirements that may have been missed when looking at the project from a single angle. This helps with recognizing new requirements.
5) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Nominal Group Technique
Organization is just as important as discovery, as even small projects can generate hundreds of requirements which if not properly prioritized and organized cause mass confusion. Individuals join together to rank the most important ideas, requirements and solutions. This helps with focusing on prioritized ideas that are more valuable first in generating project requirements. Brainstorming meetings usually see this technique being used quite a bit. Since there are often a few ideas coming from multiple stakeholders, not organizing and ranking them will cause further problems down the line as the more specific, less top-level decisions and requirements need to be made as focus will already have been lost.
6) Collect Requirements Process Technique – The Delphi Technique
This technique is an interesting one. Using the Delphi technique an anonymous request is sent to stakeholders asking for information and to provide their requirements. All of the stakeholders requirements are then collated and sent back to all of the project stakeholders.
This Collect Requirements Technique is not only to support stakeholders when they make decisions, but to provide a transparent and clear view of the project to all stakeholders. Sometimes one stakeholder’s requirements may conflict with another, or impact their work, as such it’s important to allow these requirements to be shown so that a decision can be made on the best way forward should any of the requirements not match. This also allows for feedback to be given on various stakeholder requirements, allowing for optimized and efficient requirements to be developed rather than bloated and sometimes unnecessary requirements hampering a project.
7) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is something many of us learn as a child, but this can actually be used as a technique for collecting requirements processing. These diagrams are a great way to visualize thoughts and put notes down in a way that can relate to each other. These notes can be vital information, requirements or just general info but it allows a Project Manager to see things from another perspective and help them to understand it.
How does the Mind Mapping Collect Requirement Process Technique Work? Simply, the notes and information are placed on a diagram with the main project area sitting at the center, with branching out positions for information that are requirements. These can get more and more specific the further they are from the center. Sections can be added on at a later date.
To best illustrate this, let’s provide an example. Assume we are building a car. A car consists of a series of elements. We begin with the Car itself, this is the primary section of the idea/mind map. Offshoots of this are the elements that make up the car itself. The windscreen, the doors, the wheels, etc. Then we have other areas such as the wheels which would have subareas, such as the tire, the rim, the suspension and of course the engine compartment, which with its own offshoots such as the battery, the radiator, the fuel injector, the oil dipstick, etc etc. This is how we can develop a successful collect requirements process, stage by stage and see a visual representation of the hierarchy it comes with,
8) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Affinity Diagrams
Affinity diagrams work amazingly well with the previous collect requirements process technique – Mind Mapping and Idea Mapping. The affinity diagram allows you to go into detail on the ideas mentioned above and collate them into groups based upon how related or similar they are to each other.
For example, the car’s wheels, engine, interior, windows all have additional features and requirements that can be grouped together.
Another advantage of the Affinity Diagram being used for a collect requirements process technique is that it gives the project manager a more detailed view of the project, how the groups relate to each other and if issues could come up with escalating scope and additional requirements potentially needing to be added in the future. Collating the requirements together allows a Project Manager to properly focus and see issues before they arise.
9) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Questionnaires / Surveys
Project Managers can take advantage of the somewhat standard approach of surveys and questionnaires to obtain all the information and requirements that stakeholders have. It’s especially useful when there are a large number of them, these surveys with preset questions allow you to collect, compare and analyze all of the stakeholder’s requirements easily – without the need to interview or perform mind mapping with hundreds of individuals. This is a very efficient way to begin the process of requirements collecting so that a project is not stalled by indecision and overcomplicating items during meetings.
10) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Observation
This method is a great way to find legitimate requirements for projects, backed by real people’s actions regarding your project. Generally, an individual, or group of individuals that are the perfect potential market for a product are observed to discover their needs and what requirements for the project can be derived from that.
For example, if you are looking to find the most sought after change to an existing website, observing how the users behave on it is a great way to find otherwise hidden insights. Are there many abandoned carts? Is the payment portal making losers leave the website? Are queries searched for often in a search bar that could be indicating a demand to have a clear category or user interface change for that particular item?
Looking at these user actions, project requirements reveal themselves and can be organized into the project.
11) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Prototypes
Prototypes are of course needed when it comes to product design and development, but they are also valuable tools when it comes to Collecting Requirements. When a prototype is shown to stakeholders within the project and others in the business, the feedback they give is not only invaluable for design and development of the product, but also as a project management requirement process. Every stakeholder has a different outlook, and the requirements of each of them will be different. Their reactions to the prototype can be logged and additional requirements can be added, or existing requirements modified to fit the feedback.
Equally, the prototype can be presented to potential users, while they are not stakeholders, combining it with the observation collect requirements process technique, valuable data can be found and used in order to create requirements.
12) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Group Decision Making
As with the Delphi Collect Requirement Process Technique, Mind Mapping and many other Collect Requirements Process Techniques, Group Decision Making revolves around the Stakeholders within a project to present their requirements for the project. The difference being, that rather than a Project Manager, Team Lead or Chief making a final decision, the group as a whole must come to an accord regarding which requirements should be put in place, if they are within scope or too ambitious.
This may sound like a disaster waiting to happen for any Project Manager that has had to deal with multiple stakeholders during meetings, which is why it’s important to follow a structure on how to organize, develop and ultimately decide which requirements should be established.
There are set ways to organizing this:
- Dictatorship: While not the most pleasant sounding, the dictatorship method of group decision making ensures that one person has the final say on whether a requirement can be approved or not. Generally if somebody very senior in the organization is present, they will have the power to make these decisions. Having somebody to be firm and settle any issues has its benefits and providing the group remains engaging, should not be discounted as a method.
- Majority: Simply put, if the majority vote that a requirement should be included (or removed) from the scope of the project, then that is what happens.
- Unamity: In an ideal world this would be the perfect method for determining which requirements to include in the project management. This means that if everybody agrees on a Requirement, it will be moved up to become (or potentially become if there is a second round of decision making) a requirement of the project.
- Plurality: Very similar to the Majority method, Plurality is there to force through decisions when there is no clear majority. In many cases various stakeholders will have no opinion on the requirement, while with the majority method this would be a hindrance to having that requirement included, with Plurality those who do not actively disagree with including the requirement are not counted, so those that favor it only need to outnumber those that do not, with those neutral being removed from the equation altogether.
13) Collect Requirements Process Technique: Benchmarking
Benchmarking is used in many sectors to compare a product or service with those of its competitors. These can include many things, from speed tests for websites, downtime percentages for Servers to Reply Rates for customer service reps.
They are often used to compare companies properties, negatively and positively, so that a consumer knows what is objectively the best company for them.
When it comes to project management, and building new products or starting new projects, benchmarking a competitor’s similar productor service is a great way to find the best practices to achieve and surpass that competitor, allowing you to Collect Requirements based not only on data collected from the competitor, but also how consumers are interacting and engaging with that competitor’s product.
14) Collect Requirements Process Technique: Context Diagrams
Context Diagrams are useful to showcase an item in a real-world case, explaining its processes and how interactions with it create various results. These can be simple or complex but are designed to show a process. This diagram is then able to support you to collect requirements for the project as you can see exactly what happens (or should happen) at each step of the way.
15) Collect Requirements Process Technique – Document Analysis
There is often a paper-trail when it comes to projects, and when expanding an existing offering or creating a new product based on a previous version (such as a smart phone or app), document analysis is a very efficient way to manage requirement collection. As there should be extensive documentation already completed for the first project, much of it can be used to organize and establish the Collect Requirements for the new (but related) project. For example, when Samsung releases a new phone, it does not create a new plan and project organization system from scratch, it bases it off the previous model, using benchmarking and other Collect Requirements Processes to develop a more advanced version.
As such, Document Analysis is a fantastic Collect Requirement Process when there is already an existing product to base it off, while other processes can be used to fully collect and establish the new project
Collect Requirements Process Technique Summary
Having discussed several options for Collect requirements Techniques and Processes, you can see there are pros and cons to each, and more than 1 can be utilized to establish and develop a comprehensive and powerful collection of requirements. Utilizing these methods is essential, as collecting requirements from stakeholders before a project begins and grows to unwieldly sizes can cut off problems before they arise, such as conflicting requirements from different stakeholders, the budget not being able to fully sustain the scope of the project or issues with the product itself.
There are many ways to run a project, and as a Project Manager it’s your job to find the right process or technique (or combination) that fits the specific project.