What is a Requirements Analysis?
Before you can understand the stages of a requirements analysis, it will be helfpul to understand what a requirements analysis is. Performed correctly, a requirements analysis will help you to better understand your clients’ and customers’ needs and expectations when it comes to completion of a project you are thinking about undertaking.
It is absolutely vital that during your project planning phase, you take time to perform a requirements analysis, otherwise, you may wind up with a product or service that is completely useless to the end-user. Because performing a requirements analysis properly is so important to avoiding project failure, it is important to be familiar with the stages of requirements analysis.
Stage 1: Fixing the Boundaries of the System
The first of the requirements analysis stages deals with paying attention to system boundaries. What this means is that before you can create a new application, product, or service, you have to first understand how this will fit into the already existing product, product line, or services. By taking time to determine this, you can save a lot of heartache later when you find this new project doesn’t quite fit into the scope of what your company already does. Through creating fixed boundaries for the project, then you can also tone down the potential requirements for the project.
Stage 2: Completion of a Stakeholder Analysis
Before you can solicit the stakeholders in your proposed project for their ideas, you must first complete a stakeholder analysis. Through identifying the stakeholders that will be involved in your project - the end users, customers, etc. - you will know who you need to go to when it comes to determining what the requirements of your project are.
By performing a stakeholder analysis early in the game, you will also know who you will need to be in touch with when you’re completing the risk management plan, and you can devise a communication plan as well. By overlooking this step in the requirements analysis, you are missing out on an important project planning resource - your stakeholders.
Be sure you also take time during this stage to complete a stakeholders matrix so you know the standing of each stakeholder. You’ll be thankful you did when you’re looking at page after page of requirements.
Stage 3: Determining the Requirements of the Project and Organizing Requirements
Now comes the step you’ve been preparing for. Not until you know the boundaries of your proposed project and you know who your stakeholders are can you possibly begin to determine what the project requirements are. When you are confident you are ready to proceed, you can then elicit responses from the stakeholders as to what the project requirements are going to be.
When you’ve gathered the requirements, you’re going to go through them. Immediately eliminate anything that does not fall within the boundaries of the system - these are requirements that are outside the scope of what is possible for your company. Organize the remaining requirements into groups, not only placing like requirements together, but also group by the most important to least important requirement.
Stage 4: Analysis of Requirements and Making Requirements Specific to the Project
Some project managers many see the actual analysis of requirements and specification of requirements as two separate steps in performing a requirements analysis. However, these are interrelated. When it comes to analyzing requirements, you’re already going to have to make some ambiguous requirements statements more specific, and in order to specify some requirements, analysis will have to be done.
When making requirements specific, it is important that they are presented unambiguously. You will need to break down multi-part requirements into their component parts.
Stage 5: Documenting and Managing Requirements
Finally, once you have specified all requirements involved in the proposed project, you will document them in the project plan.Once documented, you will want to track what requirements have been completed, what requirements are in progress, and what requirements have not yet been started. The process of managing requirements can be made easier by following standard project management protocols and using project management software.
Photo Courtesy of Sxc.hu/ulrik