Although requirements management is just one part of the product development process, many organizations fail to realize its importance in the successful delivery of a finished product.
In fact, The Standish Group indicates that three of the biggest contributors to projects that fail or are “challenged” are:
- Lack of user input
- Incomplete requirements and specifications
- Changing requirements and specifications
Another recent study showed that of all failed projects investigated, more than 40% concluded that failure was because of bad requirements or being unable to understand the stakeholder’s true needs in the first place.
In addition to avoiding negative business outcomes, better requirements management and investing in modern requirements management tools provides numerous benefits. One analysis of the potential return on investment from better requirements suggested that requirement errors can consume between 70% and 85% of all project rework costs.
Here are just a few ways that investing in better requirements management — and more modern requirements management tools — can help your team improve its product development process and cut down on costs.
Better Requirements Management Helps When Selecting Projects
The connection between good requirements and positive business outcomes is clear: Good preliminary requirements enable senior managers to make effective business decisions as organizations decide which, among a set of potential projects, to move forward on.
Better requirements management allows a more accurate projection of business returns. Once a project is funded, better requirements allow project managers to more sensibly partition tasks among their teams and individual team members.
Requirements Help Teams Prioritize Work in the Product Development Process
Documented requirements allow teams to prioritize remaining work. Most projects need to make compromises to ensure that they implement the most critical and timely functionality. A prioritized requirements baseline helps the team incorporate those changes that will deliver the maximum customer value. One study revealed that just 54% of the originally defined features were delivered in an average project. If you can’t implement all the requested functionality, make sure the team implements the right portion.
Requirements Management is Key to Developing Designs
Requirements are the foundation for design. Therefore, well-understood and well-communicated requirements help developers devise the most appropriate solution to the problem. High-quality requirements also ensure that the development team works on the right problem in the product development process.
Many developers have experienced the frustration of implementing functionality that someone swore they needed, only to find that no one ever used it. One survey by The Standish Group indicated that fully 45% of the delivered software product features were never used. Wasting less time implementing the wrong functionality accelerates the project and maximizes its business return.
Improved Requirements Management Can Accelerate the Product Development Process
Believe it or not, investing more effort in developing requirements can accelerate software development. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s true. Defining business requirements — the expected business outcomes the product will provide — aligns the stakeholders with shared vision, goals, and expectations. Effective user involvement in establishing the requirements reduces the chance that users will reject the new system upon delivery.
Accurate requirements ensure that the functionality built will let users perform their essential business tasks. The requirements also establish achievable quality expectations. This lets the team implement both the capabilities and the product characteristics — the nonfunctional requirements — that will make users happy.
Additionally, emphasizing requirements development is less expensive than relying on beta testing to find requirements problems. Fixing problems that late in the game is far costlier than correcting them earlier.
Learn more by downloading our eBook, “Jama Software’s Guide to Requirements and Requirements Management.”