Imagine that you’re taking the lead on a new IT project that
involves building a call center from the network to the servers.
The call center itself will house hundreds of jobs, and will bridge
the divide between customer and product.
You already have the facility, you just need a few resources to
make it happen. This might look like desks, computers, a network
architecture, a server stack and closet, plus endpoints like
computers/workstations. But what team members will you need? How
long will it take? What will the budget look like?
Addressing these needs and answering these questions is what
requirements gathering is all about. So, let’s talk about
requirements gathering—what is it, how does it work and why is it
so important to project success?
What is Requirements Gathering?
Primarily done during stakeholder meetings, requirements
gathering is the exploratory process of researching and documenting
project requirements. Shockingly, more than
70 percent of failed projects miss the mark due to a lack of
requirements gathering. That no small number.
Truly effective requirements gathering and management is started
at the very beginning of the project, and must answer the following
- How long will the
project timeline be?
- Who will be involved in the project?
- What are the risks for the requirements gathering process?
- What is our ultimate goal in understanding our project
It sounds fairly simple, but it’s incredibly important.
Why is Requirements Gathering so Important?
Remember back to the last project you managed. What were the
risks that came to light? Which resources did you run out of? Was
there any scope creep or budgetary mishaps? And overall, what were
the impacts of those shortcomings on the project as a whole?
cost overrun—without proper requirements identification at
the outset, all of those elements will be affected. Design issues
to the product will be impacted, and developmental delays will
occur. Ultimately, your product won’t be set up for optimal
success as it faces an overrun budget.
Effective Requirements Gathering & Management
So, how do you gather requirements in the most effective and
manageable way possible? Typically, requirements gathering is made
up a few discrete steps.
Appoint and Assign
First things first: who’s going to be the person that tells
everyone you’re the project manager? Ensure that that person
understands why this role is so important—everyone must go to you
with all project updates, as you will act as the knowledge center
for project progress.
You’ll also want to identify who the key stakeholders will be.
These will be the people who brainstorm, analyze, approve or deny
project updates. They’re typically made up of customers, team
leads, department managers, board members, business partners or
manufacturers. They’ll have the most say in the progress of the
Elicit Requirements & Interview
Next, you’ll want to interview all of the stakeholders that
you identified. Ask them questions like:
- What is on your wishlist for this product update?
- What is your ultimate goal for this project?
- What do you wish this product would do that it doesn’t
- What got you interested in this product in the first
- What changes would convince you to recommend this product to
- What tools would you need to make this project successful?
- What are the concerns you have for this project process?
Gather and Document
Write absolutely everything down. Write until you can’t write
anymore. Record every single answer, and create an
easily-accessible repository where (approved) others can access if
they need to reference any information that was collected during
the requirements gathering phase.
Not only will this documentation be helpful at the end of the
project when you reflect back on goals achieved, updates
accomplished, features added and bugs fixed, it will also act to
help manage stakeholder expectations, and keep team members focused
and on track.
offers unlimited file storage, along with award-winning project and
task management tools, making it a complete project management
software solution. Gather requirements, and store them online. Then
quickly make project plans and assign tasks. Track work until
completion. It can all be done with ProjectManager.com.
This is the meat of the process. Once you’ve documented
everyone’s goals and expectations, you can create a requirements
management plan that’s actionable, measurable and
During this phase you’ll answer:
How long will the project timeline be? Map out
your timeline, and then map out your requirements on that timeline.
This will help in case some requirements are contingent on
Who will be involved in the project? Will it
be the entire design and development teams, or just a select few
from each? Which team members will be available? Which team members
specialize in the types of issues the project will tackle?
What are the risks for the requirements gathering
process? Define all assumptions, and document all risks
that might impact your requirements. Understand that your
assumptions are typically divided into three categories: time,
budget and scope. They can range from assuming PTO, holidays and
sick days, to assuming stakeholders will provide feedback in a
What is our ultimate goal in understanding our project
requirements? What is the time-based goal, the budget goal
and the scope goal? Will it be to compete in the market more
directly with a competitor? Will it be to solve a customer problem,
or fix a bug?
By answering all of the questions above in a clear and concise
manner, you’ll have a full map of your requirements ready to
present to stakeholders.
Once you’ve gotten stakeholder approval on the requirements
you’ve presented, you’ll implement them into the project
timeline and process. At this point, you’ll want to make sure you
have a method in place to monitor and track all of your
requirements across all teams to ensure that triggers for risk
You’ll also want to use this data to report project progress
to stakeholders, give feedback to department managers, and ensure
the project is on track from a time, scope and budget
What Tools Can You Use to Gather Requirements?
At the end of the project, the ability to analyze and understand
the success or failure is entirely contingent around the tools you
use to document everything.
So, as we mentioned, before you even begin, you’ll want a
repository for all of your documentation. Maybe this is a file
sharing system where all documents can be accessed by multiple
users from the same server. Or the tool you need involves a time
tracking system you can use to analyze the time each team member
spent on certain areas of previous projects to understand how long
it might take them on this one.
It would also be beneficial to download a
requirements gathering template to get a leg up on your project
process. This will help everyone align with business requirements,
user requirements and system requirements.
Whatever the tools may be, make sure it can be accessed from
multiple locations, on multiple computers, no matter where each
person involved is stationed. You’ll want to make it as easy as
possible for everyone to communicate, send updates and provide
feedback across all channels.
ProjectManager.com Helps with Requirements
The key to any great project is to have all requirements
gathered from the outset. This requires a seamless method of
communication across all channels, and a repository that can hold
data for an endless amount of time. ProjectManager.com has tools
that make that not only possible, but easy.
With our cloud-based software, you and your team can host an
unlimited amount of documents so you can store any requests from
people for any length of time. Need a Gantt
chart that’s cross-functional with a time tracking system?
Our software hosts hybrid tools that can adapt as your project
ProjectManager.com is great for teams looking to communicate
with more transparency across multiple locations. With our
software, you can collaborate effectively and with ease by adding
comments from key stakeholders or team members. Plus, appointees
can schedule tasks and make alerts to ensure clients are being well
managed and the timeline stays intact.
Gathering and managing requirements across multiple teams is no
easy feat. Ensure that team members and stakeholders are up-to-date
no matter what. ProjectManager.com is an award-winning software
that helps teams collaborate effectively across multiple channels.
Sign up for our
free 30-day trial today.