Project Management

Requirements: Don't Forget the End User

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I overheard a comment a few weeks ago that struck me as odd at the time. A business analyst on a project that was going to deliver a new automation system to one of the company’s departments had bumped into one of the people who would be using the new system. The user asked the business analyst about the progress of the project; they were chatting back and forth, and then the user asked: “Will the new system allow us to override?” That generated the response, “No, your management didn’t ask for that”.

I suspect that many similar conversations happen in companies around the world, and I also suspect that for many organizations that seems like a perfectly normal exchange. However, I have a bit of a problem with the idea that end users aren’t consulted as part of the requirements-gathering process (and that is what happened here; it wasn’t just one user who didn’t know, none of the users knew what was going to be delivered), and that’s what I want to explore in this article.

Why wouldn’t you use end users to drive requirements?
When I started researching this article, I asked a few people who have been the customer for projects that involved large groups of end users whether they consulted with those users on the requirements. While some of them had ways to capture ideas from users (more on that in a …


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