All too often, applications are delivered and then rejected because it wasn't what the client ordered, or the client changes their mind about what they want halfway through. Even worse, you can receive conflicting requirements from clients, or think you've finished an application, only to receive a new requirement
Every application, regardless of scope or size should involve the gathering of requirements from the client, because this is what allows both the client and the IT team to understand exactly what a application will deliver, and avoid the costly downtime of rejecting applications or adding new requirements.
Ensuring that your requirement gathering process is as detailed and thorough as possible is the key to success. This involves several steps.
Steps to Successful Information Gathering
The first step to success when gathering information from the client is to identify who has the final say on what is included in the scope of the project. After that, the end users need to be identified as well as their particular needs.
Capture of Requirements
Next, it's important to find out from the client what their requirements are. Getting this information can be done in a number of ways. The client can be interviewed, a focus group can be developed, or graphical representations can be sent back and forth. Types of graphical representations include mock-ups, process models and business scenarios.
Categorisation of Requirements
Client requirements can be categorised for easier analysis. Some common categories can be technical requirements (where potential technical issues are listed), operational requirements (where necessary background operations for the forward movement of a project are defined) and functional requirements (where clear definitions about the end user experience are detailed).
Recording and Interpretation of Requirements
Once requirements have been captured and categorised, interpretation and recording are next. Clarify any requirements that seem vague, and then prioritise them. An impact analysis should then be done, along with the resolution of any issues, followed by a feasibility analysis.
The final step is to get sign-off from those who you identified in the first step. The sign-off document should contain a statement that the requirements presented to them reflect their requirements exactly. This is a very valuable document to have on hand, as it can prevent a common occurrence called 'scope creep'.
What is Scope Creep?
Scope creep is what happens when a project grows beyond its initial boundaries. This phenomenon can cause much stress and frustration, not to mention downtime, as it can mean that several newly-added - and therefore secondary - objectives must be met before a project can move forward on its original track.
In order for successful requirements gathering to take place, each step in the process must be given full attention. For example, not placing user needs as a top priority could result in confusion on both sides. The same is true of attempting to solve problems before they've been identified.
The best advice is to take the time to invest in ensuring you receive clear requirements from the client, because not doing so can result in a host of problems and much time lost on the development of your application.