Make Project Sponsors Write Their Own Requirements

From Project Manager 97Things

Jump to: navigation, search

Make Project Sponsors Write Their Own Requirements

Miyoko Takeya, PMP Tokyo, Japan

Project failure is not just a problem with American corporations. According to a survey conducted by one of Japan’s leading Information Technology magazines several years ago, more than 75% of the projects which are undertaken by Japanese corporations are considered a failure when measured against the metrics of Quality, Cost, and Delivery.

In Japan, as in most other nations, the top reason for failure in each of three metrics is almost same, " POOR REQUIREMENTS DEFINITION". The companies who are most at risk are those with poor business analysis capabilities. When specifically reporting on technology projects, such a software development, success is categorized, euphemistically, as “improbable”. This result shows how difficult it is to find, identify and define true requirements for a software project.

Since it is so hard to do, many project owners, such as customers, project sponsors, or company executives, expect the project manager to define and refine the requirements for the software on their own. They do not provide much in the way of guidance or a clear definition of what they need. Since it is a software project, and they may not understand software development themselves, they assume that they don’t have to define what they expect.

The software project manager usually does not have the authority or the time to find, select, and prioritize the project requirements on his or her own. Especially since there may be several interest groups involved in the project who probably have conflicts with each other in terms of what they envision the software will do upon completion.

It’s up to the project manager to spend time with those who are funding the software project to help them define exactly what they want before the project starts. Is it more important that it is done quickly, with few bugs, or with as little budget as possible? You can’t have it all. What resources and skill sets are crucial to create the software they want? Are they making them available to the team?

How will the software be used to run the infrastructure or make money for the company? Are the time restraints real, such as written into a customer contract, tied to an important holiday date, or part of an elaborate marketing plan?

Without serious, specific consideration of what is to be created on this project during the requirement definition phase, the success of the project is severely jeopardized. Remember, they need to convey what they want this software to do, not how the programmers will go about producing that result.

Convince the project owners that if they must be involved in the process from start to finish. Solid requirements planning establishes a clear connection between the business case, project goals, and the project outcome. Otherwise, the project cannot produce the satisfactory result they are expecting.

A failed software project hurts the project owners most, since they have put up the money to fund the project and were expecting to use the software to earn back their investment.

Personal tools