The Art of Requirements Gathering

George Spafford

At the start of a project, it is very important to quickly and efficiently gather expectations, filter through them and develop a manageable list of requirements. If we take a moment and look at the vectors that expectations and requirements enter into the equation, we can create a management framework to deal with them (see the graphic below).

 

Expectations come from stakeholders and sponsors. The project team needs to evaluate the expectations and determine what needs to be postponed for later review and/or inclusion, plus what needs to be rejected. The review process can get very elaborate. Essentially, it needs to evaluate the impacts of the request on the dimensions of technical feasibility, scheduling and, of course, available budget. If an expectation clears the review process and becomes a formal requirement, then it is likely that additional requirements will be detailed in order to achieve that requirement.

 

These supporting requirements are called "derived requirements" because their necessity is derived from the need to accomplish a particular requirement. For example, a car may have a requirement to stop within so many feet when traveling at a given speed. In order to accomplish that requirement, the project team needs to determine the type of brakes to use, their size, metallurgical composition, etc. In this example, each characteristic is a derived …

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