As a project manager, I am always looking for ways to improve how I get things done. Obviously, my goal is to make sure things run smoothly, but there are always things that can get better or be done differently to improve the overall effort or even processes that currently rule over the space in which I work. One specific area where this applies is in the development of requirements. Many companies have resources devoted understanding the company's overall strategies, goals and day-to-day business. It's their jobs to know what the needs are, and also to identify those needs on paper (for lack of a better way to phrase it).  If you're lucky enough, you could get these resources as both your business partners as well as the IT department. Even better would be if they work well together and know how to leverage each other's abilities and talents to better the overall project requirements.

Clear Definitions

Often I find that business partners don't know how to accurately define business requirements. It's tricky to do without getting into the details of "how" to solve the business problem or need. And in organizations that are set in current patterns, it's always a struggle to push the right process for gathering requirements. How to manage this? I've found there are a few things that can help provide reasons why improving requirements can result in more well-defined projects.
  • First, define the current requirement process against a "perfect" scenario that would work in the existing environment. Provide that information to the right management-level resources. This might be your specific manager, or it could be someone other decision-maker. If you're on the IT side, it might be your business partner or even the PMO manager.
  • Second, give examples that can help provide accurate requirements for the industry you're currently working in. Also try to include how and/or why those worked well.
  • Third, help the team understand the types of roles that are important to the effort, and ensure that these individuals are able to contribute. This will help provide the value that you need to make some process changes within the team.
  • Finally, stay positive and engage allies. Nobody wants to hear what they are doing doesn't work. You are always better off finding positive scenarios to work through. I find that the more positive you are, the more allies you can create. It's human nature: Most people gravitate to things expressed calmly and positively.