Case of Incorrect Requirement Gathering – How to Overcome?

Mr. X is working as a Project Manager with a mid-level Software development company. His company recently won a contract to develop a software application for a renowned bank. And, Mr. X is assigned to work on that project.

The customer wants the company to design a banking software application which will create and update customers profile by listening to their voice, also customer can update their details with manual editing, it will trigger automatic calls between bank and the customers in case of any alert or notification. The application should keep track of all transactions, and maintain the records. It is a up-gradation from its existing application.

Mr. X has never led a project of same immensity, but has worked successfully in a similar project on a limited extent.Therefore, he is confident that he can carry out this project successfully by utilizing historical information from his previous project. So, based on his previous experiences he has started the initiation process. He and his team started taking interviews, discussions, surveys and also facilitate some workshops to collect the needed requirements to complete the work for project scope.So, after many discussions and meetings, Mr. X and his team finalized the requirement documents and send those to the customer for review and approval. He and his team is satisfied with their work, as they have finished the work on time.

During the review process, unfortunately, the customer raised some differences in the collected requirements. They object on some of the requirements which are not matching to their expectation.

The client refused to give his approval and suggested him to do the changes as per his requirement.

What!! What will happen now? Mr. X and his team forced to rework on the requirements now. It is a major setback to him and his team, as they had thought they covered all the aspects of the

requirements. They need to rework on all the aspects, the team needs to redesign it, again they will follow all the review and walk through processes. Because of their inability to cover all the requirements correctly at the first place, Mr. X’s project will suffer in many ways due to this rework. It will increase the project cost, may miss the schedule, higher risk of customer dissatisfaction, and above all it may lower his team’s morale.

So, where did Mr. X failed? what is his, and his team’s fault? They have followed all the processes but they missed one of the important aspects, that is to use the right tools and techniques to gather the requirements.

There are many useful and proven techniques used across the industries at this phase of project management to collect accurate requirements. After all, the project is all about creating the product as per the scope reviewed and approved by the customer at the initial stage.

Let us discuss some of the useful techniques as suggested by Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK) –

Group Decision-Making Techniques

Project Managers across the industries use this technique to take the decisions based on the consensus. By using this powerful group decision-making techniques, they discuss, debate and reach to a unison opinions where they can categorize and prioritize the requirements to be used for future actions.

Unanimously: This can happen when everybody is agreeing on a decision without any opposition. Normally, this happens using the Delphi Technique, where a selected group of experts provides their views on the questionnaire prepared based on the requirements. The facilitator only to see their responses to maintain anonymity.

Majority Wins: While discussing and taking views from the group of team members, the views of the majority members, at least 50% of total members, taken into account for final decision.

Plurality: In case of multiple options for a requirement and not getting majority on any particular option, the Project Managers choose the option which is selected by maximum team members.

Dictatorship: One Individual, whether the project manager or any other influenced person of the team makes the decision for the group.

Group Creativity Techniques

This technique is used to identify the project requirements and risk by using the combined team efforts creatively. Generally, in our society, some people are extrovert, while some are introvert. So, it is always not possible to get the best answers by asking directly to them. But, by using the group creativity techniques, the Project Managers are able to take the decisions which comes out of combined team efforts.

The techniques are as follows:

  • Brainstorming: Normally, a group of 5 to 10 people sits in a room and provide solutions to a problem. The primary focus is to generate more ideas to resolve the problem. If the problem is complex one, then that can be broken into smaller parts and generate ideas for the smaller one. All the ideas are written on a whiteboard so that everyone can see and try to suggest improvements on those ideas.
  • Nominal Group Technique: This technique is similar to the Brainstorming technique, but it enhances the brainstorming techniques by voting and ranking. Once the ideas are generated and listed on the whiteboard, the facilitator asks all the participants to vote on them. Once voting is done, the facilitator ranks the ideas based on the number of votes. Finally, the highest ranked ideas are taken into decisions. In some companies, they take the fresh ideas from each individual of the group separately, and then disclose those ideas in front of all and takes vote from the group. They perform this method to avoid influence of strong personality in the group.
  • Mind Mapping: This technique uses the ideas generated in individual brainstorming sessions, and then consolidates those ideas into a single map to observe commonality and differences in understanding.
  • Affinity Diagram: The affinity diagram allows team to categorize the ideas. The ideas are grouped into categories with similar ideas or requirements. The large number of ideas, when classified into groups, the team can easily review and do the analysis.
  • Multi-criteria Decision Analysis: This technique is used to analyze the possible solutions, and ranked them to choose the best one. Team uses a decision matrix to perform a systematic analytical approach, and based on the risk levels, uncertainty, value, they ranked those ideas. For example, A party organizer may require following requirements from the restaurant vendors for a small dinner party:

    • Food as Starter
    • Food for Main Course
    • Type of Vegetarian Dishes
    • Type of Non-Vegetarian Dishes
    • Hygienic levels of food etc.

The vendors are evaluated by giving points to them on the above parameters, say 1 to 5, where 5 is the highest and 1 is the lowest point. Once all the parameters are evaluated and points are awarded, the team selects the best vendors based on the ranks and requirements.

The above techniques are used by the Project Managers across the industries to collect the requirements and to define the project scope more accurately. These techniques can be used in combination or can use individually.

Samual Sam
Samual Sam

Learning faster. Every day.