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Prevent Project Failure with Better Requirements

When requirements are unclear, timely completion of projects becomes a tricky proposition. But in spite of this knowledge, such problems keep occurring. In a post for Project Management Hacks, Bruce Harpham elaborates on why poor requirements are causing project failures and how to prevent this terrible occurrence.

Digging for Truth

When the requirements to a project are not explicit enough, customers are dissatisfied and there is often a steep cost to the organization both financially and with regards to their reputation. Whether it be a problem of no quality requirements, ineffective reporting that causes incomplete data, or incomplete training, documentation, and change management, it all happens too often.

Some professionals refer to their job role as having the responsibility to “gather requirements.” Although this is somewhat true, it does glaze over the fact that data is not merely in the universe waiting to be unearthed; it often requires a little digging and conversing with people to get the full story of what is actually going on. Project managers possess the knowledge about the big picture, and with a little development, the desired requirements can help to uncover the strategy and the problems.

There are three approaches one can take in order to uncover real requirements:

  1. Analyze the organization’s strategy.
  2. Talk strategy with the project sponsor.
  3. Find the existing problems within current data and reports.

When analyzing the organization’s strategy, you simply look at the strategy and look for the best way to map out the project’s purpose. There is the challenge of bringing the CEO’s vision to reality, but a conversation with them can often help. Conducting a conversation with the project sponsor can often be fruitful too. Rather than going directly to the top of the organization, this approach allows for you to see what the leader of the project thinks, which can often be slightly different than the CEO’s goal.

Uncovering problems that already exist helps prevent future reoccurrences of these mistakes. The data is probably already there, so utilize it! You can read the original post here:

About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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