Requirements: The foundation of a successful project
One of the most important and frequently neglected parts of any project is to ensure that detailed requirements have been defined during the initial stages of a project. Building a house without a plan is in many ways equivalent to an information technology project without a requirements definition document.
The requirements document serves multiple purposes during a project. A few of the most important include:
- It is used to accurately determine the project schedule. If it isn’t known what is to be accomplished you certainly can’t tell your progress toward the end goal.
- Determining what is within versus outside of the original scope of a project. In most projects things change. Items are added or subtracted from the original scope. The change management process is completely dependent upon the originally agreed upon set of requirements.
- Required to accurately forecast and schedule the project.
- Serves as an important tool to ensure a mutual understanding between the business stakeholders and project team.
While most technologists acknowledge an understanding of the importance of detailed requirements, some choose to be persuaded and take the significant risk to take on a project with the “we’ll figure it out as we go along theory”. In the great majority of cases this ends with poor results. Project teams are well advised to exercise the appropriate level of discipline to ensure that detailed requirements are documented and agreed upon before proceeding to any hardware / software procurement or software development activities.
-Dan Thompson, PEI