It’s time for part 2 of our journey through the Scope Management Knowledge Area from the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition. Today, it’s the turn of the Collect Requirements process. This process happens early in the project so that everyone has clarity on what the project is supposed to deliver. It also has the output of the requirements traceability matrix, which, if you are working on a project with many requirements and moving parts, is really helpful.
I’ve only used the matrix properly on one project – much of what I do doesn’t require a full traceability matrix. So don’t feel you have to use one if it will not make your life easier and add value to the whole process.
Collect Requirements Process
This is the second process in the Knowledge Area. The term ‘collect’ doesn’t sit very well with me. I know, from talking to business analyst friends, that the language has moved towards ‘eliciting’ requirements.
Requirements aren’t simply lying around waiting to be collected. There needs to be some active involvement in finding them, understanding them and collating them into a format and structure that can be used by the project team. You could argue that elicitation is only part of this process, but personally, I prefer to talk in the round about eliciting requirements.
The inputs have changed from the Fifth Edition, but not substantively. The inputs to this process are:
- Project management plan (instead of the requirements management plan, scope management plan and stakeholder management plan, all of which are part of the larger project management plan.
- Project charter (which was there before).
- Project documents – nice and generic. Can include pretty much anything that could be useful for requirements elicitation but a starting point to look would be the lessons learned register, the stakeholder register and the assumptions log.
- Business documents, which again covers a wide range of paperwork but PMI means the business case, I believe. As this is created outside of the formal project lifecycle i.e. before the project existed, it can’t technically be counted as a project document, but frankly I think that’s splitting hairs.
- Agreement – contract-related project paperwork is, I think, what the PMBOK Guide® is getting at here. Any agreements you have would include requirements for products and/or the project management requirements.
- Enterprise environmental factors (how did they manage to forget these the first time?) – covers things like infrastructure that might affect what systems you can install, culture and environment that the project needs to operate in.
- Organisational process assets – covers things like historical information and lessons learned that could shape the requirements, along with any internal relevant policies and procedures.
The objective of this process is to create the requirements documentation – in other words, to arrive at a position whereby everyone has a clear understanding of the agreed project scope.
Tools & Techniques
While the list of tools and techniques looks quite different, I don’t think they are substantively different.
The new tools and techniques for the Sixth Edition are:
- Expert judgment
- Data gathering
- Data analysis
- Decision making
- Data representation
- Interpersonal and team skills
- Context diagram
Tools that have dropped off the list include:
- Focus groups
- Facilitated workshops (all of which fit under interpersonal and team skills, with an overlap into expert judgment – you’d get an expert facilitator involved, for example, for a facilitated workshop)
- Group creativity techniques
- Group decision making techniques (which fits under ‘decision making’)
- Questionnaires and surveys
- Document analysis (these last four fit under data gathering and analysis).
You can see why I think the lists are different, and yet… not really that different.
These are all things you can do to elicit requirements and gain consensus on what really should be in the scope of the project. You wouldn’t want to use them all, but you would pick and choose different tools and techniques to ensure you were making progress towards getting that final list.
There is nothing new in the outputs to this process.
At the end of working through this process, you’ll have the requirements documentation and the requirements traceability matrix prepared and written (and approved). There’s nothing formal that defines what format your requirements documentation should be in. I tend to use work package description documents, product breakdown structure documentation, and sometimes simply a list of bullet points. You could use user stories.
Your requirements paperwork can be as detailed and formal as you like. Do what’s required based on the level of commitment you seek to get and the need to be specific at this point in the project. Trends and tailoring is something we’ll come to at the end of this process, but remember it applies the whole way through – you can make the process as big or small, as simple or involved as you want to.
Next time I’ll be looking at the third process in this Knowledge Area: Define Scope.
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