Professionals pursuing a career in project management will invariably hear the term “requirements management” in relation to their job duties. In a broad sense, requirements management is the process of identifying and then monitoring the needs of all stakeholders involved in a project, and making sure that these requirements are met. One of the key challenges a project manager will face in requirements management is the need to make adjustments as the process unfolds and the requirements change.
Effective Communication Is Essential for Successful Requirements Management
The most fundamental aspect of requirements management is the need to communicate effectively. If one stakeholder alters a requirement in some way, the project manager needs to identify how that change is going to impact the requirements of others involved in the project and communicate those changes to them.
Project managers must have a process in place for updating requirements, either by maintaining a log or other documentation, or by entering the details into the company’s project management software or web-based solution. There are also software programs and web-based applications that are specifically designed for requirements management.
The Five Stages of Requirements Management
Requirements management is often viewed as a five-step development process. The project manager and key stakeholders will evaluate the requirements during each step of the process. These steps are outlined below:
- Step 1: Investigation
Typically, the first step will be that of fact-finding or investigation. Participants identify their goals and examine the requirements necessary for meeting those goals. They evaluate the resources that they have for meeting the requirements, identify any obstacles that may exist and propose solutions. During this early stage of requirements management, much of what is being structured is tentative, and all parties are aware of this. It is inevitable that requirements will shift as the process moves forward, so this investigative phase of requirements management is just a starting point.
- Step 2: Feasibility
The next stage of requirements management involves the feasibility of the project in terms of cost. This helps to shape the project as it moves forward toward design and development. The project manager and stakeholders must determine exactly what is required to ensure the project is viable from an economic standpoint. The team must address questions concerning whether or not the organization has the technological capabilities and expertise to achieve the project’s goals, or whether additional resources will be required.
- Step 3: Design
After the investigation and feasibility stages, the project then moves forward to the design phase. This is where tangible goals start to come to fruition. There will inevitably be some changes to the requirements that will need to be communicated and subsequently addressed by those responsible for various aspects of the design. An important part of requirements management is determining if these changes will affect the cost or scope of the project.
- Step 4: Construction and Testing
Once the design has been approved, a prototype or working model is typically constructed and put though a series of tests.
This helps the team ensure that the project will be able to progress according to schedule and stay within budget. The project requirements are often adjusted and refined during the testing stage of requirements management and must be documented accordingly.
- Step 5: Release
Once the product is finally approved, it is released. As the product enters into use, there is still the need for ongoing requirements management related to proposed upgrades, add-ons, improvements, marketing, sales, and the like. These will be documented and addressed during the investigation phase of the next release.
Requirements Management Training
Project managers can learn more about requirements management through certificate programs, including the 100% online training available through Villanova University. Acclaimed as the leading provider of project management education online, Villanova is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the #1 university in the Master’s category/North region. Villanova’s unique video-based e-learning platform enables professionals to earn a Master Certificate in IS/IT Project Management or Applied Project Management through a convenient online classroom. Those who complete a master certificate or who hold PMP® or CAPM® certification can enroll in Villanova’s Advanced Master Certificate in IS/IT Project Management or Applied Project Management. All of these programs provide the training project managers need to carry out their requirements management responsibilities and achieve project success.