Project Management

Requirements Practices Every Project Manager Must Know

Walt Washburn is a Project Management Professional and has been a technical systems project manager for 30 years. Working projects in the DoD, Federal, legal, banking, consumer services and healthcare sectors has kept the journey interesting. Walt established and led an enterprise Project Management Best Practices organization at Caremark, and later spearheaded an internal consultancy for Enterprise Project Management at CVS Caremark. These days he practices Project and Change Management within that Fortune 20 company promoting performance-driven development for strategic enterprise applications.

Frederick Brooks wrote in his famous “No Silver Bullet” essay (1987):
“The hardest single part of building a software system is deciding precisely what to build. No other part of the conceptual work is as difficult as establishing the detailed technical requirements, including all the interfaces to people, to machines, and to other software systems. No other part of the work so cripples the resulting system if done wrong. No other part is more difficult to rectify later.”
Requirements management is all about deciding precisely what to build, and how to build it. I see few shops and fewer PMs who have effectively embraced the discipline of requirements engineering and management. However, the requirements-aware PM can deliver high-impact results to a project’s triple constraints by applying just a handful of best practices.
Poor requirements definition and control leads to rework and missed work. The costs in dollars and schedule increase dramatically the later in the project they are discovered. Problems that cause a 5 percent cost bump when found in design, cost 20 percent discovered during testing and 100 percent (and more) after implementation. Researchers have documented that 30 to 50 percent of total development cost can be attributed to rework…and requirements deficiencies account for more than 70 percent of …

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"No opera plot can be sensible, for in sensible situations people do not sing."

- W.H. Auden