Like ladders, projects are aimed at taking us to newer heights of innovation, and exploring new and more efficient solutions. Ladders are made of steps. Each one — from the bottom up — is a prerequisite for the other. Together, they help the climber make seamless progress. If the steps are close to each other, and properly aligned, it is easier to reach the top. This also applies to projects; whether it is a technical or non-technical one. The top of the ladder is the end goal; the steps are the individual project requirements.
The bane of many failed projects is wrong project requirements. Info Tech Research Group reports that about 70% of projects suffer due to wrong requirements. Wrong project requirements could be incomplete requirements, constantly changing requirements during execution, or requirements that are simply not right for the intended outcome.
Not knowing the right requirement for a project is a big headache across different industries, costing billions of dollars annually. According to the Project Management Institute, about 40% of the average project budget is wasted due to wrong requirements.
Whatever industry you’re in, having clear and correct project requirements is crucial. For industries like technology, health care and construction, the stakes are even higher. Let’s take a closer look at these requirements and how they should be approached to ensure greater success.
What are project requirements?
Project requirements are the blueprint of the work to be done and conditions to be met for a project to be completed. It is the foundation on which other project elements rest. In the book, Software Requirements, Karl Wiegers defines requirements as:
“…specifications of what should be implemented. They are descriptions of how the system should behave, or of a system property or attribute.”
Project requirements give a clear picture of the tasks involved. They help teams interpret a company’s vision, with available resources.
Project requirements should be clearly defined, and communicated from the beginning. Without that, the team members will struggle, waste resources, and be more likely to fail.
How do you create good project requirements?
To optimize for success, the question is, “How do I know the right requirements for my project?” Identifying the right project requirements is a major need, especially in fast-paced industries like IT, software and blockchain. Because of the complexity and importance of requirements in product management, new approaches have been developed to meet this need.
Requirements Engineering is a unique field of Software Engineering that deals with definition, documentation, and maintenance of the requirements in an engineering design. From a Requirements Engineer’s perspective, if the problem is clearly and completely stated, it ensures that correct, reasonable, and effective solutions are employed during execution.
Top corporations can afford to hire experienced Requirement Engineers or Business Analysts to scale this hurdle. However, many projects cannot afford this, and the data shows that they suffer three times more failures than successes. There are several pointers that tell us what makes a good project requirement. Here are a few of them:
- Good Project Requirements Solve Problems
Every project has an aim, or its endpoint: it is usually to meet a need or solve a problem. Whether it is a product, software solution, or a service, it is relevant because it meets a need. It could be the need of people, or that of another project.
One function of project requirements is to distinguish the needs from the wants, pinpoint the project aim, and capture the problem statement. A good project requirement identifies and points precisely to the issue.
- Good Project Requirements Can Be Verified
One way to test for a good project requirement is by subjecting it to scrutiny and tests. Every industry has specifications, and they prove whether a solution can work or not. When a project requirement can be proven by industry standard tests and analyses, it increases its success rate.
- Good Project Requirements Can Be Achieved
Completion and attainability are age-old, trusted ways to judge a project. Is the project reasonable? How about its time schedule? And budget? Good feasibility points tell whether a project can be achieved or not.
- Good Project Requirements Are Understood by the Team
Communication helps teams work well. Ambiguity and vagueness are common features in failed projects. A project requirement must be easy to communicate to the team, and easy to understand. People who are building the solution must understand how each point connects with the other, and fits into the bigger picture. This way, they are able to replicate the solution, as captured, and identify the tools needed to achieve it.
When the right project requirements are known, execution is seamless. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be hiccups, it means that the hiccups will be easier to identify and resolve.
To recap, the right project requirements:
- Reduce project costs
- Prevent delays and save time
- Improve success rate
- Make it easier to predict problems and solve them
- Improve communication
- Strengthen teams, building person-project sync, and cohesive workflow
Before you start your next project, take some time to look over the requirements. Are they correct, clear and complete? Yes? Then your project is already off to a great start.
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