3 Tips for Effective Software Requirements Gathering

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A quick Google search will tell you that the most common pain point for the software development life cycle is requirements gathering. The term “requirements gathering” implies a simple straightforward process. However, what starts out as a simple phase of the project can quickly become a pretty drawn out process. Oftentimes, during the discovery phase of a project, requirements gathering is seen as a single team’s responsibility. Effective communication and clearly defined roles are critical in gathering requirements. Successful requirements are accomplished through collective action, buy-in from all project teams, and collaboration.

No matter the type of project, whether it is a large implementation or a single enhancement, requirements are a fundamental building block to achieving your project’s goal. Soliciting buy-in from all teams involved guarantees that requirements gathering is completely understood by all stakeholders and will be successful in the long term. Below are examples of tools and processes that can be utilized to maximize the requirements gathering process, while also elevating the level of communication, quality, and output from your project.

1. Modern Requirement Gathering Applications
When was the last time you used Netscape? Technology improvements have paved the way for new platforms, but they have also caused older applications, like Microsoft Suite, to become obsolete. Tools such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint have long provided a usable and familiar interface for project management; however, modern requirement management tools take it a step further by helping organizations establish cohesive teamwork, eliminate duplicative work, and provide effective oversight. Web-based applications provide clear ownership and version control and give organizations transparency into shared documentation, which will maximize a team’s productivity. An adoption of these tools can provide significant return on investment in the quality and time spent on a project.

Online document sharing platforms help organizations establish clear document control. Rather than spending time chasing down email chains, web-based applications provide organizations with a one-stop-shop for all project teams to point towards. Web-based tools can also prevent confusion over what document version is the most up-to-date, and they encourage collaborative working sessions. Having the right tools or platforms is a factor to every team’s success, but we can expand upon that by looking at how the process of gathering requirements can be refined.

2. Process Refinement
Refining the process is another step towards effective requirement gathering and can manifest in a couple of ways throughout a project’s lifecycle. As part of the refinement process, the methodology the project choses to follow should be clearly defined when approaching the software development lifecycle.

These decisions on project approach should be defined before the discovery period to allow gathering requirements to be successful. An unbalanced approach can lead to wasted time, resources, and money spent trying to discover what deliverables are needed.

3. Bridging the Gap
Utilizing ideas or lessons learned from past projects helps elevate project work and raise the quality of work provided. In today’s working environment, where teams are unable to meet in person, communicating effective requirements is more important than ever. Working with your teams to utilize ideas or share lessons learned can help bridge the gap. Putting you and your team in a position where you can adapt to changes in requirements is crucial in your team’s success. Being open minded to changes and allowing for open feedback is a key ingredient in this process. Flexibility allows teams to work together, pivot from different requirements tools and optimize the process.

Every decision made to update and refine your requirements gathering process will yield a stronger, balanced project. Switching to a modern requirements gathering application can help your organization save time, maximize resources and lead to a successful project.

1 Comment


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    Avatar Pammela Savage says:

    Ryan- Please also remember to use a standard for Responsible AI when you are considering building tools- what is bias? What is fairness? How does an organization “develop” those standards and keep them in place throughout the life cycle of the product? All very fundamental as firms gather requirements.

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