Immersion Reporting: The Requirements Alternative

Laura has experience with big four consulting organizations; was a managing director at a start-up international technology consulting organization that provided off-shore services; and currently is the owner of LAD Enterprizes, a management and information technology company. She provides project management services and training to assist organizations in realizing their goals through projects.

Occasionally, traditional data-gathering techniques such as interviews and observation do not completely identify project requirements because the project team is not able to ascertain enough data or information.

Sometimes, interviews are impossible to schedule because the stakeholder has limited time. Periodically, observing from the sidelines is not always adequate because some requirements are not observable. Some people being interviewed or observed are guarded, only providing the information they think you should or want to know.

If the traditional data-gathering techniques are not providing the data and information necessary to create solid requirements, consider another option that is often not used by project teams. The option is to employ a journalist approach known as immersion reporting in which the requirements are discovered by the team living the experience.

The Scenario
After a year of development, the much-awaited day arrived and the new online order system went live. However, within six weeks, management halted use of the new system because the staff and customers were struggling and complaining. Frustration by the staff led to the system being dubbed “the OOPS project.” A staff person reported, “It takes twice as long to resolve a customer question or complaint. To make matters worse, I have no choice but to ask a customer to…

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"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know."

- Groucho Marx