In any project, planning is a must for success.
This involves requirements. A project can have numerous requirements to be followed to ensure that all features and functions are created and delivered.
Defining and planning for project requirements, however, is a challenging task. In fact, the Project Management Institute claims that “Unclear statement of requirements” is in the top four factors associated with project failure.
To develop clear requirements and plan for them properly, teams write a requirements management plan. It’s a document prepared during the planning stage to help stakeholders to outline the complete project scope. Proper identification and description of all requirements will give project teams a great start, as they will have a better understanding of project goals.
In this post, we’re going to talk about the structure of a typical requirements management plan and give you six tips to create it the right way.
What is a Requirements Management Plan?
A requirements management plan is a document that describes policies and tasks that must be followed throughout a project. Businesses create this document to capture, analyze, and manage all requirements from stakeholders.
A requirements management plan doesn’t list project steps but captures all the information from relevant inside and outside sources that influence the project. The result is a summary of all requirements, along with potential conflicts between them.
A typical requirements management plan has the following structure:
- Project details (scope)
- Requirements list
- Requirements analysis
- Categories of requirements
- Documentation of requirements
- Prioritization of requirements
- Product and requirement metrics
- Traceability structure, i.e., how requirements will be traced throughout the project
- Progress tracking (stakeholder meetings, checkpoints, etc.)
- Validation of requirements
- Change management.
How to Write a Requirements Management Plan
Use these six tips to prepare yourself and write a clear and focused requirements management plan for any project.
1. Define the Project’s Scope
The very first section describes the purpose of the project to give all stakeholders a brief overview of the entire initiative. In most projects, this information is also put in another document called “a scope management plan” – so many project managers copy this information from there.
The project scope section also contains a mention of how the project relates to the company’s mission, business impact, or other initiatives.
2. Describe Requirements Collection
This section has subsections defining how project stakeholders collect, refine, categorize, communicate, and monitor project requirements.
First subsection: requirements collection.
Two things here: information collection methods and drafts of requirements
Identify how you will collect the requirements: workshops, document analysis, focus groups interview, surveys, prototyping, brainstorming, etc. At this point, the requirements might be a bit vague, but the main point is to write them down as drafts.
Second subsection: refinement and categorization.
Must contain refined and clear requirements. Write them in a natural, conversational language so every stakeholder can understand them easily.
You can categorize the requirements into two groups: “the ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves.’” Each must be accompanied by an impact analysis to justify your choice.
In the case of complex projects, requirements are categorized into three groups: high-level, user-level, and system-level (the latter can also involve functional and non-functional).
3. Share Requirement Analysis Findings
In this section, the document explains the impact and contribution of each requirement to the project’s goals. You can use these two questions to describe your requirements analysis:
- How does the requirement impact the project’s goals?
- How many hypotheses does the requirement need to prove to impact the project’s goals?
Let’s consider an example.
Say we are collecting requirements for adding a live chat software feature that allows users to identify the physical location of a customer along with an IP address.
User surveys showed that business owners have asked for this feature on the company’s forums. Accordingly, it would allow for more effective customer segmentation, which is a helpful tactic for more targeted marketing.
Requirement: “Add an automatic location identification to live chat”
Project impact: “Improve user satisfaction with our software”
- “Our users will be able to add geographic location data for more effective customer segmentation”
- “Help our users to create more personalized offers for clients based on location”
- “Provide better product delivery estimates to customers asking for delivery updates.”
At this point, try to mention the most important hypotheses to avoid a long list of items.
A good practice is to focus on three hypotheses–the ones you find the most relevant. Writing tools like Grammarly, and SupremeDissertations can help with editing and making this section or the entire document easier to understand.
4. Explain Requirements Tracing Process
Project requirements will be traced throughout its life cycle, so you need to describe this process. The description will help the stakeholders to ensure that the project produces the requirements as intended and that it meets the goals.
This is where the Requirements Traceability Matrix comes in. Project stakeholders will use it to link the requirements to the objectives to ensure that the main goals are being achieved.
For a project team, Requirements Traceability Matrix is a tool to plan and highlight any missing requirements, inconsistencies, as well as to provide a visual progression of the processes and procedures.
Requirements Traceability Matrix is typically presented as a cross-reference chart or a horizontal matrix. Your goal is to create a template as an annex to the project requirements management plan.
5. Identify Workflows and Activities
Requirements management is a complex process with many stakeholders and goals. That’s why the management plan document should describe all relevant workflows and activities that project stakeholders will use to manage the requirements.
A workflow is a sequence of steps that stakeholders follow to achieve project goals (reviews, evaluations, dependency management, etc.). It involves “actors” or stakeholders, activities, results, and state.
Since workflow processes provide better transparency into projects as well as a common understanding of the team effort, the requirements management plan must describe them in detail. Outline every step, actor, their responsibilities, time estimates and constrains, and interrelations.
Well-described workflows and activities lead to better workflow management–a must for successful project implementation.
6. Describe Requirements Change Management
Changes are an indispensable part of any project implementation. The same rings true for the project requirements plan document. To make the process of making changes orderly and meaningful, describe the change control plan.
The most important points to cover in this section:
- The indication of changes for each requirement
- The reasons behind the decisions to make the changes
- Who was responsible for making the changes and approving them
- The impact the change is projected to make on the project as a whole.
Ensure that all this information is captured for each change. It’ll help manage requirements changes and project performance.
Writing a Requirements Management Plan: Summary
Each project begins with planning. A requirements management plan is an important document to ensure that the project team achieves the expected outcomes. It requires collaboration, revisits, changes, and insightful information, so treat this document as a backbone of project success.
Use these six tips to familiarize yourself with the writing process. They will help to ensure that the requirements you create are within the scope of the project and clear.
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