How are requirements managed in an organization? 

The requirements management process carried out in an organization typically contains five parts 

1. Requirement gathering

Requirement gathering can be called the first step to requirements management. It involves laying the groundwork for requirement defining and elicitation starting with identifying the stakeholders, communicating with them, and studying the existing system or the set of problems that have to be solved by way of the product. Once the stakeholders and the current system have been thoroughly studied, various techniques are used to formalize the requirements.  These techniques include:

  1. Brainstorming: Brainstorming is when a group of stakeholders collectively, collaboratively, and spontaneously identify all possible ideas for requirements. The Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) says that brainstorming is best applied in a group as it draws on the experience and creativity of all members. 
  2. Document Analysis: Document analysis is research conducted on the documentation of an existing system. Reviewing this documentation serves as a starting point for gathering the requirements, or even enabling gap analysis in cases of migration projects. 
  3. Focus Group: A focus group is a collection of the representatives of different customer groups. You can collect feedback about their needs, opportunities, and problems, refine them, and identify actionable requirements from them. 
  4. Interface Analysis: Interface analysis is identifying the interfaces between the solution and other components of the system and defining how you need these interfaces to function. 
  5. Interviews: Interviewing stakeholders is critical to requirement gathering since it helps understand the goals, expectations, and objectives of the project accurately. 
  6. Prototyping: Prototyping, as the name suggests, is building small, basic models of the project to get feedback from the stakeholders, which otherwise would not have been as easily visible. 
  7. Questionnaires / Surveys: Surveys can be used to collect specific feedback from a large customer group. This method helps to refine and polish pre-identified requirements. 
  8. Requirement Workshops / JAD Sessions: Requirement workshops or Joint Application Development Sessions are well defined and structured collaborative sessions involving the client and the end-user contributing to the design and development of the product, intending to come up with well-defined requirements as a result of grouping various POVs. 
  9. Research and Observations: Research and observation, as evident as they are, are beneficial in uncovering implicit requirements, pain points, opportunities for requirements, and understanding existing business processes.


2. Requirement refining & categorizing:

In this phase, the needs that have been gathered and elicited by employing a combination of the methods mentioned above, are thoroughly analyzed, interpreted, and converted into formal requirements that can be worked upon by the team. These are then further categorized into functional requirements, operational requirements, technical requirements, or transitional requirements and prioritized accordingly. Further weeding and requirements analysis helps to determine which requirements are achievable and how the system or product can deliver them.  The analysis can consist of the following stages:

  1. Sufficiently word and detail the requirements
  2. Identify which requirements are the most critical, and which are “nice-to-haves”.
  3. Carry out an impact analysis for each need
  4. Analyze feasibility

Prepare a written document, sometimes called the RSD (Requirements Specification Document) or the Business Requirements Document, to formalize and detail the analysis to be presented to stakeholders and clients and the product development team. 

Interestingly, according to a PMI survey, these days, 77% of high performing organizations prefer to use a modern, more reliable approach to this procedure. They use project management software, thus ensuring that you have proper visibility, transparency, and traceability of requirements. 

3. Requirement negotiation:

Many a time, there is a disagreement on the formalized requirements by the time they trickle down through the lengthy process of gathering, analysis, interpretation, and documentation. 

Clients and future system users look to accommodate all the features they have thought of, expect a high level of service, or early availability. Acquirers focus on cost-effectiveness, compliance with standards, and not exceeding human resources, schedule, and budget constraints. The product developers need stable and feasible requirements. 

This gives rise to conflicts and misunderstandings. Requirement negotiation methods can be used to reach an agreement to avoid spending extra efforts and resources on rework. 

4. Requirement Negotiation Process

  1. Study your stakeholders
  2. Know your proposed system and the problems of the existing system that you are solving
  3. Ask open questions 
  4. Listen and understand
  5. Set some ground rules
  6. Deploy a suitable negotiation method, depending on the stakeholders. e.g., The P2O2 method;
    People: Separate the persons from the problems 
    Positions: Focus on the interest, not the position
    Options: Generate favorable and unfavorable options (but with adequate mutual gain) 
    Objective criteria: Make decisions based on objective criteria
  7. Justify your position
  8. Know your bottom line
  9. Be prepared for favorable, as well as unfavorable outcomes.

Working on a project being an extremely collaborative process, determining shared or opposed interests, and being able to deal with them becomes imperative to project success.

Sign off

Once the negotiation is successful, and all the parties involved have agreed upon a particular set of requirements going forward, there needs to be a final sign off. Sign offs are a legitimate indication that the deliverables have been formally agreed upon and that the stakeholders understand the requirements specification document.

Requirements are the building blocks of your project. Make sure that you manage them properly and follow proper standards and procedures. Leverage technology to make managing requirements even easier.