Best Practices

Requirements Collaboration: Traps to Avoid – Webinar Q&A

Yesterday, Karl Wiegers and I co-presented a webinar on “The Six Common Traps to Avoid when Collaborating on Requirements.” More than 500 people attended and asked some great questions. Due to time constraints, we did not get to many of the questions, so I thought I’d address some of the common themes around requirements collaboration here.

How does agile fit in the world of collaborating on requirements?

I believe there is a common misunderstanding that agile is about stories, sprints, and burndown charts. These concepts are associated with methodologies from the Agile Manifesto. Agile as a concept is more about collaboration, interaction and iteration, all of which can be accomplished using any methodology. Our customer base is largely made up of organizations building complex products; it is delivering products faster and with more innovation by incorporating collaboration into existing processes.

Please define external stakeholder vs internal? 

Often, the term “stakeholders” gets confused, or separated, from “customers.” Jama defines stakeholders as anyone with a vested interest in the outcome. This includes people in departments outside development—sales, marketing, executive teams, engineers, even customers. The reason this term is so important is that organizations tend to forget about roles in different groups. The more we broaden the term of “stakeholder,” the more we empower people to participate and provide value.

What do you recommend in situations where there is a lack of authority to implement a process where process is needed?

This is a tough one. It can certainly be frustrating if you are sitting on the tail end of a broken process. One can only hope that you can approach people in authority who are willing to listen; however, it’s not enough to highlight the pain. You need to propose a solution. Collaboration is a much easier process to discuss and implement than a full-blown process shift. You might find that it’s not the process that is broken, but the barriers to the process that limit its ability to be efficient.

For me, the key message is that people matter. This may sound a bit cliche but when taken in context of the solutions Karl suggested, such as “engage stakeholders” and “agree on a process,” we are assuming that people are all on the same page and are provided an opportunity to participate when it matters. Participation is key to product delivery and is fundamental to Jama.

Thanks to everyone who attended. If you missed the webinar, you can watch it here:

To download a copy of the slides presented, please visit >