Getting Consensus on Business Requirements: Tips and Traps - Slide 6

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Traps that Get in the Way of Consensus Building

It is relatively easy to get consensus on all the high-level functions or use cases that a system needs and to assign priorities to them. Even for a scope as large as an ERP for a major manufacturer, we can usually scope a project to this level in a week. But this level of detail is insufficient to compare application vendors’ reliably, and it is a trap to think that consensus built at this level is adequate.

The issue is that the application may not manage the data flow in the same way that your people currently perform the work, and this won’t be apparent from a high-level view of the requirements and the proposed solution. One of three things then happens:

  • The application is implemented “vanilla” and people change the way they work to accommodate the application.
  • The application is customized to address the gap.
  • The functionality needed cannot be implemented.

In all three cases, unless the stakeholders anticipated and accepted this change of course, then the scope of the project will increase and stakeholder satisfaction with the result will decrease. Aside from this, “vanilla” no longer exists almost all major commercial applications today are highly configurable so the organization must know how information is to be managed across the corporation in detail.

Out of every 100 IT projects started, 94 will start over again at least once. Before your company launches its next package selection, implementation, or upgrade, make sure you don’t cripple the project from the start by failing to identify your requirements the number one reason that projects spin out of control. Make sure that your company has a clear understanding of how important the requirements definition stage is, has a proven way to carry it out properly, and doesn’t skip this critical phase in the rush to get an RFP out the door.

The toughest job in the requirements definition stage is to get stakeholder agreement as a systematic, expected deliverable in the project cycle. It is absolutely essential (even on the most agile of projects) for a team to have consensus on the requirements. IAG Consulting shares what they’ve learned after over 1,000 engagements.

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