Immersion Reporting: The Requirements Alternative

Laura Dallas Burford is the founder of LAD Enterprizes, a management consulting firm that partners with consultants as well as internal and external consulting organizations to successfully build the operational and delivery aspects of their practices. Laura appreciates feedback on her articles and can be reached at laura@ladenterprizes.com. She is the author of Project Management for Flat Organizations.

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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