The first requirement of any successful software product is a solid foundation, which means you have to understand the needs and expectations of all the stakeholders before you begin. This may sound obvious, but all too often, it gets neglected.
This blog post explains exactly what requirement gathering is, what it involves, and why it matters. We’ll outline best practices and common challenges. And we’ll also give you some expert tips to help things run smoothly.
What is Requirement Gathering?
Think of requirement gathering as bringing together all the material you need to create a blueprint for your software development project. It’s the information you’ll use to outline the project objectives and to ensure everyone understands the stages involved in meeting them. The process helps eliminate any misunderstandings and gives you more insight into the problem you’re trying to solve. It will also help you to manage risks, balance your budget, and stick to your schedule.
The Involvement of Stakeholders
Requirement gathering involves everyone in the project, from end-users and clients to managers and subject-matter experts. By recording and exploring each party’s expectations and requirements, you’ll maximise your chance of creating a successful product.
Before you start requirement gathering, you’ll need to identify all your stakeholders. And remember, stakeholder involvement isn’t a one-off. You should seek stakeholders’ feedback throughout your project to clarify doubts and address concerns. It may seem like a task you could do without. But in the long run, this could help prevent costly misunderstandings and help address the biggest concerns project sponsors have: How much is the uncertainty in project cost?
Involve stakeholders as early as possible and keep them involved throughout.
What Does Requirement Gathering Involve?
Requirement gathering isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. But generally speaking, it involves techniques such as interviews, surveys, workshops, prototyping, and observation. The methods you use depend on factors like stakeholder availability, the complexity of your requirements, and constraints such as budget, time, and resources.
Use templates when you interview stakeholders so you can gather requirements the same way each time. Try to be open-minded and flexible so you can make any adaptations as early as possible. As well as producing a better product, this will help conserve your budget!
Processing the Requirements
Once you’ve gathered the requirements, it’s time to analyse them. Look for any inconsistencies, ambiguities, and conflicts. Refine and prioritise the requirements and then document them clearly and concisely.
All stakeholders are essential. But pay particular attention to the insights of end users as they’ll interact directly with your final product.
Validating and Verifying the Requirements
This is the final step of the process and involves checking that your requirements are complete, accurate, and technically feasible. Also, you must ensure they match your project goals and business objectives. Where possible, work on all the requirements simultaneously, as this will help you manage the scope of your project, your resources, and the project schedule. It will also mean that you can deliver the most critical features of the project first.
Use open discussions and consensus-building exercises to identify and resolve any conflicts between stakeholders. Finding a balance usually involves negotiation and compromise!
In a nutshell
Requirement gathering might be underrated, but it’s a linchpin for the success of any software development process. It enables you to understand the problem you’re solving comprehensively, reduces your risks, and minimises unnecessary work. And most importantly, it enhances the probability of delivering a solution that meets everyone’s expectations.