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Requirements for Project Management Templates

January 14 2010

Good Requirements Mean Everything

There are a lot of important things that go into making a project and project management practices successful.  Good, skilled resources.  A confident and experienced online project management manager.  A project budget big enough to get the job done.  However, none get the project off on the right foot quite as well as rock-solid project requirements.

As the project manager, you have a statement of work in hand and an anxious customer ready to kickoff the project.  You’ve already put together a project schedule to get the project moving forward and you’ll continue to refine it as more details emerge.  The next thing you must do is ensure that you and your customer define as many requirements as possible and in as much detail as possible.  A colleague of mine once said “requirements are the lifeblood of project management templates ” and that is definitely true.  I’ve witnessed projects taking horrible turns for the worse when it became apparent that the requirements had not been adequately defined.

Here are a few things you can do to help ensure your project’s requirements are well defined:

  • Review the statement of work in detail with the customer.  Make sure the project starts on the right foot with a mutual understanding of the basic deliverables of the project.
  • Require the customer to define their business processes with their own subject matter experts.  These business processes will go a long ways in helping you and the customer mold requirements to properly serve their business needs.
  • Make time in the project schedule for a thorough exploration session.  Ensuring that there is enough time to work with the customer to fully define requirements will keep the project from being ‘forced’ to the next stage with question marks still hanging out there.
  • Engage the right resources.  Enlist the right members of your own project team to help with the requirements definition process.  For example, on an IT project the business analyst is usually the key person to work with the customer on deep requirements definition.  A data specialist is not.

Summary

Good project management can do a lot to help ensure project planning success.  Careful management of resources, the schedule, the budget and the customer will take care of most things that come up.  However, if you start with poorly defined requirements you may be just one step away from a big project setback that can greatly impact schedule and budget.  Taking the time to define requirements in detail at the beginning of the project can be the single biggest boost to keeping your project on track throughout the engagement.