PMI's Pulse of the Profession's recent report on Requirements Management by Dave Bieg (see pmi.org) tells us that "47% of unsuccessful projects fail to meet goals due to poor requirements management". How do your failed projects line up with this statistic? Oh, I see - you don't have any failed projects. Well... that's okay. I'm sure we all wish you future success on all your projects and we'll move on to those of us who live in the real world. ;)
Projects are complex organizational units that set out to accomplish specific goals in a defined period of time with defined resources. The clear part of that statement revolves around time and money. A bucket of money and some start and end dates we can easily understand. Non-financial resources like people maybe are a little more hazy. But what about that blurry word "goals"? Sure - we can all understand it at some level, especially during the honeymoon phase of project start up when it tends to be a few sentences in a project charter. But when it gets down to the nitty gritty, lofty goals translate into detailed requirements that have to be collected, recorded, confirmed, managed and satisfied.
This is a large topic. Reams of material have been written just on conducting effective interviews and workshops; body language; communicating; interpersonal interaction; preparing, sending and analyzing surveys; correlating results and achieving agreement or at least consensus. And that's only a part of requirements collection, never mind deciding when requirements should be defined, how they should be recorded, achieving confirmation; managing changes to them after the fact as business/organizational needs change and being sure that your project satisfies all of the requirements that were stated in the first place, if that is your mandate depending on the type of project your are running. More complex topics, indeed.
So - these are some of the problems with which we wrestle on a daily basis as we drive our projects toward the elusive goal of meeting requirements to our clients' satisfaction. Are there solutions that might help? Of course there are! Keep an eye on this space for more beyond this initial little teaser.