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Putting Together a Requirements Gathering Plan

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 11/30/2010

Piecing together a requirements gathering plan that works for your project doesn't have to be the monumental task you think it is. By ensuring that you are organized in your requirements gathering process, you can help be sure that you have a successful project run. Learn the essential steps here.

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    What is a Requirements Gathering Plan?

    What's Your Requirements Gathering Plan? Have you ever tried to undertake a project where the requirements for the product or service being provided were "fuzzy" at best? Well, there's a good way to thwart this problem in the future: get solid on stakeholder requirement first! If you take time before jumping headfirst into a project to put together all of the requirements needed in the project, then you're scope will be well-defined. With a well-defined scope, you can avoid scope creep and other problems that can potentially derail your projects.

    If you attempt to dive into the requirements gathering process without any sort of organization or plan, then you can be sure that you will run into problems. A requirements gathering plan will help you to focus your effort, weed out or defined inapplicable or ambiguous requirements, and document requirements in terms of priority.

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    Step 1: Define the Scope of Your Project

    Before you can go about gathering requirements for your project, you will need to have a clearly defined project scope. By fixing the boundaries for the requirements to be gathered, you can rein in requirements that are outside of your team members' skill sets, company's budget, or time restraints. By putting together a rough project scope first and coming up with a rough budget, you can be sure that project requirements that are gathered will fit into the boundaries of what's possible.

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    Step 2: Deciding Upon a Method for Gathering Requirements

    How will you gather requirements? Will you have a brainstorming session with all involved stakeholders? Will you use a survey? Will you look at other companies to see what their requirements are? Before you can gather requirements, you're going to need to know how you will gather requirements. Decide upon which methods you will use and document this in your requirements gathering plan.

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    Step 3: Perform a Stakeholder Analysis

    How can you expect to know what your stakeholders will want if you don't know who your stakeholders are or what position each holds in your project? You will need to perform a stakeholder analysis and construct a stakeholder matrix in order to understand where your project interests lie and so that you can prioritize requirements for your project.

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    Step 4: Document Background Information

    You will need to ensure that you have effectively captured any information relevant to your project's background. Why is the project being undertaken? Is the project solving a particular problem? Is it part of a quality improvement effort? If you understand your project's background, this can help in the requirements gathering process.

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    Step 5: Define Any Requirements or Objectives You've Already Identified

    If you're already aware of what some of the requirements for your project will consist of, then you'll want to define those. Additionally, make sure any project objectives have been clearly stated and defined. Any goals for your project need to be SMART - Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, and Time-based. If you identify givens from the getgo, you can automatically eliminate any requirements that contradict these.

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    Step 6: Putting the Plan Together

    Once you have completed the above five steps, you are ready to put together your requirements gathering plan document. In this document, make a clear statement of your goals. Be sure that anything that could appear to be ambiguous has been defined. Include in your document a copy of the scope statement, your stakeholder analysis, relevant background information, already defined requirements, and the methodology(ies) you plan to use for gathering additional requirements. Finally, you may want to define a budget for gathering requirements.

    Image Credit: sxc.hu/chidsey