Before you start planning for a project, it is important for you to finalize the scope of the project. However, you cannot finalize the scope of the project unless and until you know the requirements of the project, which you need to collect from all the stakeholders of the project. Requirements are defined as the outcome or capabilities that the stakeholders want see in the product to be developed in the project. In addition to the outcome or capabilities of the product, the requirement might even state other expectations, such as the quality standards of the product. Therefore, when collecting requirements from the stakeholders, you not only need to collect the product requirements but also the overall expectations of the stakeholders from the project.
The project charter that you receive from the Project Management Office already contains the high level requirements from the stakeholders. Therefore, the aim of collecting requirements at this stage is to get elaborated and specific requirements from the stakeholders. Collecting such information is very critical for the project because if you miss even seemingly small requirement, it can be capable of changing the entire course of the project and raising conflict throughout the course of the project, which ultimately might result in the complete failure of the project.
One of the methods to collect requirements from the stakeholders is the manual method, wherein; you need to use certain tools to manually collect the requirements from the stakeholders. You can use any of the following techniques to collect the detailed requirements from the stakeholders:
- Expert interviewing: Also known as interviewing, in this technique, you need to interview the stakeholders to identify their specific requirements for the project. The specificities include the ones for just a project work, product, or even the entire project. Depending on the convenience, you can interview stakeholders either individually or in batches. You can conduct interviews by using various mediums, such as in person, emails, letters, phone calls, or any other convenient medium. Even though this technique might take a lot of time, it gives you an opportunity to understand individual requirements in greater details. Additionally, the technique gives you an opportunity to develop good rapport with the stakeholders of the project.
- Brainstorming: In this technique, you gather the stakeholders in a room and start the ideation process. During brainstorming, there is possibility of getting further ideas generated from the ones proposed by a stakeholder. You must facilitate the discussion during the session and keep capturing the ideas generated during the meeting. Make sure that you do not interrupt the process and note down the idea, irrespective of its level of relevance because even such ideas might give rise to another better one in due course of time. Even though there are chances that the meeting might turn into utter chaos if you are not able to manage it properly, this technique has a capability of generating great ideas that might get triggered from another idea.
- Nominal group techniques: In this technique, you the participants of the brainstorming session rank the most useful requirements. Depending on the availability of time, you can either merge this session with the brainstorming session itself or conduct an individual session at a later time. Whereas the brainstorming session provides you a huge list of ideas, this technique enables you to create a meaningful set of requirements from the ideas generated during the brainstorming session. It is always advisable to reserve a time period for nominal group techniques immediately after the brainstorming session for two major reasons. First – the ideas are fresh and there are high chances of missing on some of these if the nominal group techniques session is delayed for a later time. Second – it might be difficult to come up with a common time convenient for all stakeholders because of their prior or ongoing commitments.
- Focus groups: In this technique, as against the brainstorming session where you invite all stakeholders, you invite only a specific set of stakeholders who are subject matter experts. In this meeting you seek requirements usually on a specific aspect of the project for which the stakeholders have expertise. While you moderate the meeting, the stakeholders can discuss the requirements among themselves. Creating focus groups can help you to understand the requirements for the specific section or feature of the product because the stakeholder invited for the meeting would be having expertise in that area. Additionally, this technique can help you focus your energy and efforts at a feature at a time.
- Facilitated workshops: In this technique, you organize workshops where you bring together stakeholders that have different perspective on the project. The stakeholders discuss project requirement from their perspective, which can be from various teams like product designers, developers, end users or any other stakeholder team members.