Using the Tools and Techniques of Collect Requirements

Your communication skills are about to come in handy. Gathering and documenting requirements is not a task for the faint of heart. Since defining and producing requirements are so critical to the success of the project, I recommend using team members with excellent communication skills to perform this task. If they have the ability to read minds, all the better. Stakeholders almost always know what they want the end product to look like but often have difficulty articulating their needs. An expert communicator can read between the lines and ask the probing questions that will draw the information out of the stakeholder.

Business process owners are those people who are experts in their particular area of the business. They are invaluable resources to the project manager and in gathering requirements for the project. They are usually the midlevel managers and line managers who still have their fingers in the day-to-day portion of the business. For example, it takes many experts in various areas to produce and market a great bottle of beer. Machinists regulate and keep the stainless steel and copper drums in top working order. Chemists check and adjust the secret formulas brewing in the vats daily. Graphic artists must develop colorful and interesting labels and ads to attract the attention of those thirsty patrons. And of course, those great TV commercials advertising the tasty brew are produced by yet another set of business experts. These are the kinds of people you'll interview and ask to assist you in identifying requirements.

There are several tools and techniques in this process you can use to help identify the requirements of the project. Some of these tools and techniques can also be used during the Identify Risk process and the Plan Quality Process. We'll cover those processes in Chapter 6 and Chapter 7, respectively. The following tools and techniques are used for Collect Requirements:

Interviews Interviews are typically one-on-one conversations with stakeholders. Interviews can be formal or informal and generally consist of questions prepared ahead of time. The advantages to this tool are that subject matter experts and experienced project participants can impart a lot of information in a short amount of time and typically have a good understanding of the features and functions needed from the project deliverables. You should record the responses during the interviews and don't be afraid to ask spontaneous questions as they occur to you during the interview.

Focus groups Focus groups are usually conducted by a trained moderator. The key to this tool lies in picking the subject matter experts and stakeholders to participate in the focus group.

Facilitated workshops Cross-functional stakeholders come together in a facilitated workshop to discuss and define requirements that affect more than one department. For example, if you're implementing a software package that impacts several business units, you'll need representatives from each unit together in a workshop so that each of their needs are represented and prioritized. This way, all the participants understand the various needs and have a facilitated forum to discuss and resolve their issues.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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