Make Sure Your Business Requirements Make the Grade

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Creating business requirements is perhaps the most critical - and annoying - phase of any development project. Without a clear definition of what an IT project is supposed to accomplish, both technically and from a business perspective, the initiative is doomed to failure.


The catch is that your project managers are often put in the maddening position of trying to gather requirements from business teams who either:


a) Have not really thought out what they want the project to accomplish, or even worse,

b) Don't agree about what they want to the project to accomplish


Add the tactical complexity that's inherent in any tech project, and you have a process that is at best challenging, or at worse quite messy. At the very least, all business requirements documentation can use a thorough vetting before moving into the development phase.


Our partners at have produced a Pre-Development Requirements Checklist that you PMs can use to ensure that business requirements cover all the bases. The 27-point quality check is available for free download to IT Business Edge members here in the IT Downloads library.


Some key points covered in the checklist include:


Are the formal standards and procedures for acceptance of the final product and interim products specified? This is key, because invariably there will be some disconnect about what the business thinks the requirements say and developers think the requirements say. The need for iterative checkups to make sure the requirements are clear and being met is essential, and that process should be spelled out in advance.


Does each task specify the data used in the task and data resulting from the task? Users like to say stuff like "we need to input orders," but tech needs to know exactly where that data fits either in a new or existing data structure. Which orders?


Are the requirements expressed independently of design specs? There's always the temptation to get too technical in a requirements document. Let the developers figure out the code.


You might also want to check out IT Business Edge's Project Proposal Template, which we use here in the project evaluation phase. It offer guidelines for establishing success metrics for the project before even the requirements phase begins - a very good idea.

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