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A Guide to Project Requirement Gathering

  • By Rohan Roy
  • April 4, 2022
  • 586 Views

Along with developing successfully running software, satisfying your clients and their customers are also the targets of the projects that you’ll be working on. To do that, you’ll need to know what exactly is your client looking for and what is their customers expecting from them.

Project requirement gathering is important for any software development process. This is centered around the user, understanding the needs and wants of the user regarding the software. The list of requirements is collected from the stakeholders of the project and then the development team does their own research to understand what more the project will need to perform its best.

What is Requirement Gathering?

Every project, whether it is software or not, has its own requirements that define the “what” and “why” of the project. These requirements are compiled and finalized through thorough requirements elicitation, documentation, and understanding the requirements.

Requirements elicitation involves fetching the business requirements from the stakeholders in order to comprehend the user needs. 

Then the obtained information is documented, stating the purpose and goals of the project in detail, in the next step known as requirements documentation. This document is referred by the development team, throughout the software lifecycle to align the project with the goals of the stakeholders.

Requirements understanding comprises analyzing the requirements documentation and planning the process and time to achieve the desired results.

These three processes are often ignored when the budget and time are restricted for a project. This can lead to building a project that doesn’t fulfill the client and their customer needs. So the process of requirements gathering is critical for both the development team and their clients.

Also, there are two types of requirements, functional and non-functional requirements. Functional requirements mention a project’s usability, capabilities, features, and other such basic facilities. Examples are user authentication, creating a new account, etc.

Non-functional requirements include stability, performance, security, and any other constraints that the system should satisfy. The processing time of requests, the loading time of the page, different constraints for different users, etc are non-functional requirements. 

Why Is Project Requirement Gathering Important?

Even if your team is ready to start working on a project right away after getting approval for the abstract of the project, requirements gathering is a step that shouldn’t be avoided at any cost. Project requirements gathering is important to steer clear of misunderstandings, customer dissatisfaction, and deviation from the project’s goals. 

The development team should know what exactly they’re working towards so that the project doesn’t fall short of expectations. Here requirements documentation is quite helpful as a point of reference for the development team to not deviate from the actual purpose and function of the project while progressing through the lifecycle. 

It also serves as a blueprint of the project for the clients to better understand the project and know what to expect from it. This makes sure that the developers and stakeholders are on the same page.

5 Of The Best Requirements Gathering Techniques

While collecting requirements from the stakeholders, you should try to see the project from their view and understand what they’ll be expecting from the project. One-on-one interviews, brainstorming sessions, and surveys with the stakeholders and their customers will give you a clear understanding of the project requirements.

If your team has a clear idea of the most effective ways to gather requirements, the whole process won’t be that complicated. How you gathered the requirements and how productive and useful the techniques were is also a success determining factor for a project. 

Here are some of the most effective project requirement gathering methods.

One-On-One Interviews

You should try to get as many interviews as possible with the stakeholders. These direct communication sessions can help to understand where the clients are coming from and avoid any kind of misunderstandings between the teams. If there is any clash between the conclusions of your team and the expectations of the clients, such interviews are a great way to resolve them.

Interviews are also essential for quality input. A few pointers about the project given by the client over an email is simply not enough for the requirements gathering process. 

Your team will have to make sure that the entire project lines up with the vision and mission of the client’s brand. The interview questionnaire should be prepared in advance and shared with the client if possible. You should try to ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no for an answer.

You should also explain to the clients how your team contemplates the project and what is your team trying to achieve.

Brainstorming Sessions

This often acts as a starting point for any project that’s only taking shape. Brainstorming sessions are a good, productive way to gather requirements, ideas, and suggestions from the whole team including the clients. It’ll help you to identify, classify and allot tasks, based on the gathered requirements, to the right people and come up with solutions for issues in the early stages of development.

Because of the disorganized and free manner of a brainstorming session, it allows the team to point at topics that have been missed and features that have been overlooked by the clients.

Targeted Surveys

Having a wide range of stakeholders can be challenging but surveys are advantageous in collecting information quickly from a large number of people. Surveys can be cost-effective since there is no need to reach out to each one of the stakeholders. 

While preparing the survey, you should keep it short so that people will probably complete them. Focusing on a single domain is better rather than being all over the place. 

Surveys can provide you with discrete sets of data, making the analysis process of requirements a lot easier.

User Research

In the end, the ones who are gonna use and appreciate your product are the users. Satisfying the stakeholders might be easier than satisfying the users. Eventually, the entire project requirements gathering is to benefit the users.

Even if they were in the industry for a while, there might be customer demands that the stakeholders haven’t noticed yet. So your team should be ready to observe the user from a different perspective from the stakeholder. User behavior analysis can be a good start for this. You should also try to interview real consumers of similar products or existing customers of your clients.

Prototypes

Creating a prototype can help you show the clients if the final product will be up to their expectations and gather valuable feedback from them. This also shows the client what is possible and not possible when it comes to the scope of their project.

The overall process of prototyping will help refine the already gathered requirements and advance to the next step of the project. Prototyping can last until the client’s needs are met, but it’s still reliable enough to avoid client dissatisfaction.

Conclusion

Stakeholders might not always understand what details your team might want to develop software for them. It’s your duty to reach out to them and extract all the info that you need instead of making assumptions about the client’s expectations. Project requirements gathering can seem like a tedious process but ultimately, it can save your team from a lot of tweaks and rework on the project in the future.

Product Engineering

Rohan Roy

Rohan is a rare mix of technologist and CMO at Sterling technolabs. His passion lies in helping companies to grow revenues by delivering top-notch software development services and build value-based partnerships. When not driving high-impact go-to-market strategies, Rohan scrolls twitter and often reads.
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