This appendix provides some additional information that may be useful to you in running a project, but which is not core to project management. The topics here typically do not impact simple or smaller projects, however it is useful to have a summary understanding of them.

Collecting requirements

For some projects, once you know what the deliverables are, you have all the information you need to develop them. For others, you need a series of more detailed information about the deliverables that together precisely specify the deliverables. This more detailed information is called requirements, and the complete collection of requirements is called the requirements catalogue or requirements specification. For example, in the office re-fit case study used in Chapters 2, 3 and 4, the project scope included putting new furniture into the office, such as desks and chairs. This was enough information to allow the project to be planned and managed. However, there could be some very specific additional detailed information, such as the type of chairs required, the number of drawers needed for each desk and so on. These more detailed pieces of information are examples of requirements.

Some very large or complex projects have thousands and thousands of requirements; moreover in large businesses there is a specialist discipline, business analysis, whose role is primarily to analyse business problems and develop the requirements list necessary to overcome them. It is beyond the scope of this book to give a detailed description of what is in itself a complex and specialist discipline. In large projects, for example in software development, one of the first major stages of the project is often to collect requirements, which can take many weeks in its own right.

There may be some situations in which you want to collect more detailed requirements than you would include in the Project Definition, but do not need to go to the extent of employing professional business analysts. (Remember the information in the Project Definition was there so you could scope the project, not so you know every detail of every requirement.) The aim is to get an exhaustive set of requirements that goes beyond the limited scoping information in the Project Definition and which fully defines the deliverables.

The way to develop requirements is through a series of structured interviews with your customers, to gauge exactly what it is they want from the project. If you ask people what they want delivered, they may go on giving you far more requirements than you can possibly deliver. So it is important to understand that every requirement typically adds some time and some cost to the project. Therefore when people are giving you requirements, you should understand whether these are:

  • Mandatory. The project will not be complete without them, and your customer will not be satisfied without them. Unless all the mandatory requirements are met by the end deliverables from the project, it is a failure.

  • Nice to have. Whilst not mandatory, these are requirements the customer really wants you to fulfil, and unless there is a good reason, usually in terms of unacceptable extra cost or time to the project, you will try to deliver these as well.

  • Optional. Requirements the customer wants you to fulfil if it is reasonably straightforward, but will not be too worried if you cannot.

A simple example requirements catalogue is shown in Table A.1.

Table A.1. Example of a simple requirements catalogue
No. Requirement description M N t H O
1 Each member of staff will have a suitable office chair that conforms to our business standards check mark    
2 Each member of staff will have a desk with an integrated drawer unit, space to work on and space for a full sized PC. check mark    
3 Each member of staff will have additional storage space for two archive boxes near their desk.   check mark  
4 For every four members of staff there will be an additional chair for visitors.   check mark  
5 There will be five additional tables which can take up to four chairs for informal meetings. check mark    
6 The six secretaries' desks will have a second drawer unit to account for the additional paper work they deal with.     check mark
Key: M = Mandatory: NtH = Nice to Have; O = Optional

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Project Management Step by Step. The Proven, Practical Guide to Running a Successful Project, Every Time
Project Management Step by Step: The Proven, Practical Guide to Running a Successful Project, Every Time
ISBN: 0273707884
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 43
Authors: Richard Newton
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