Why is requirements management important?

Requirements management is extremely important since it is the first step to figuring out your end goal and ensuring that it turns out the way you and the client want. Requirements management can make or break the entire project.

Let us compare software development and project lifecycle management for example, with a battle between large organized forces because, as they say, business in the New Economy is a civilized version of the war

Let’s say you’re the General of your team –– an army of expert warriors, for the empire that’s your organization, and your project is an ambitious fortress you’re building. Your project’s requirements are the cornerstone of this fortress. If the foundation isn’t robust enough, your fort will come crashing down.

Requirement gathering and requirements engineering is essential, challenging, and time-critical. Ironically, it is also the function of project management that appears to be carried out with the least efforts, the least amount of time or formal procedure, or specialized requirements management tools.

But this approach, of course, is detrimental to the project.  The PMI (Project Management Institute) has found that an alarming 37% of all organizations reported inaccurate requirements and poor requirement gathering as the primary reason for project failure.

How this happens is, improper requirements management – not documenting requirements enough, no version control or change control and requirements change management leads to scope creep. There are so many changes and additions that the project’s scope keeps expanding beyond control, and it creeps up on the unsuspecting project team who then loses control of the changes and the number and legitimacy of increased tasks, there is zero requirements traceability, and the project fails.

The PMI also says, studies have shown that requirements management improves all significant aspects of organizational strategy (portfolio, programs, and projects) or operations management (day-to-day business) by:

  1. Reducing cost
  2. Improving quality
  3. Decreasing time taken
  4. Decreasing risks
  5. Enabling effective scope management

The Cost & Economic Analysis Branch of NASA in a survey indicated that projects that spent less than 5% of the total project or program costs on the requirements process experienced an 80% to 200% cost overrun. In contrast, those that invested even as little as 8% to 14% experienced less than a 60% overrun(Young, 2003). That’s how much of a difference proper requirements management makes. Investing in a requirements management tool further accelerates your project cycles and helps you deliver better projects.

But, most businesses still use traditional methods for capturing and managing a project’s requirements. That’s how they end up with hundreds of pages of implicit and explicit stakeholder expectations. Worksheets and word documents just don’t cut it anymore.

Proper requirements management is best carried out with certain set practices in place and an able tool to monitor it.