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Introduction to Requirements Management

written by: N Nayab • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 9/26/2009

Requirements management is the process of systematically obtaining, organizing, documenting, prioritizing and agreeing on requirements for a project. It is an ongoing process that continues throughout the project life-span. Read on for more information on the requirements management process.

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    What is Requirements Management?

    The process of requirements management is a critical aspect for the successful completion of a project. If project managers do not accurately determine all of the project requirements, then the chances of the project succeeding are rather remote. It therefore becomes essential for the project managers to correctly ascertain what the requirements are, document the requirements, organize and prioritize them, and closely monitor to effect any changes that may be necessary as the project work advances.

    Requirements management as per the widely accepted definition is "the process of identifying, recording, documenting, analyzing, prioritizing and agreeing on requirements and then controlling change and communicating to relevant stakeholders." (Source: Wikipedia)

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    Basic Concepts Behind Requirement Management

    A clear understanding of basic requirements concepts is a prerequisite to achieve effective requirements management:Requirements Management 

    • The dictionary meaning of the word "requirement" is something that is needed or desired (wanted). Anything that ceases to be relevant or useful is no longer wanted
    • A requirement need not impose strict time frame. There are many instances when a requirement is not fulfilled during the life of a project. Certain items, although required, may not be obtained during the life of a project because spending has to be prioritized. There may be a client project manager who is responsible for funding decisions and this person decides what requirements are to be fulfilled and when.
    • User requirements are things needed by the user to do the job. A system requirement indicates what the system must provide to meet user requirements.
    • Requirements management, like any other, has certain stated objectives. The nature of the objective determines the category of the requirement. For instance, though the objective of a requirement to report monthly progress may be necessary for project management, it is only a non-technical requirement and may not be binding.
    • It is necessary to know the various classifications of requirements. It is the extent of the impact that determines the scope of a requirement. The scope of a requirement should not be confused with project scope.
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    Key activities of Requirement Management

    Generally speaking, the objective of requirements management is to ensure that the customer, developer, and all stakeholders share a common understanding of what the requirements for a project are. Thus the key activities of requirement management may be stated as:

    • Planning the project requirements
    • Outlining the requirements process
    • Managing the requirements changes
    • Tracking the progress
    • Ironing out any disagreements between customers, developers, and other stakeholders
    • Conducting periodic requirements reviews

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    Requirements Management Traceability Matrix

    It is important to attach certain matrices to the requirements management process in order to create valuable data for program improvement. The matrices must enable an insight into the effectiveness of the entire process. All requirements and changes should be traceable and managed accordingly. A traceability matrix needs to be created for this purpose.

    The purpose of the Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) is to assess conformity of each requirement with the objective via the traceability matrix. The matrix is also capable of determining the source of requirements by tracing back. Requirements traceability includes tracing requirements such as capabilities, design elements, contractual requirements, risk, and overhead costs relative to the budget, manual operations, tests and more. Requirement traceability is used throughout to verify whether the aims and requirements are being met.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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