October 25, 2011 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Requirements Management
When IS Projects Go Bad
By Oakleigh Consulting Ltd
Many Information Systems (IS) projects fail because they have been designed to satisfy the wrong requirements. Moreover, it is apparent that many projects fail, not because they do not work, but because they do not work in the right way. Failure of system developers to understand the real needs of the business can be as damaging to an IS project as failure arising from the deployment of unsuitable or erroneous technology.
What Is the Role of Requirements Management?
The role of successful requirements management is to ensure that the deliverable of an IS project matches the expectations of the users, within the constraints of feasibility, corporate strategy, regulatory standards and other limiting factors. As such requirements management governs the process through which the needs of business users can be captured, documented and expressed formally within the limits of what is financially and technically achievable. Fundamental to this approach is the need to minimise the variation and conflict of requirements, and to provide stability and conformity through change management.
Requirements management has three key objectives:
- Stakeholder Support
To gain agreement on the requirements from the all stakeholders within the project, typically the management, end-users, developers and third-parties, who will have diverging perceptions of what is needed.
Software Design Brief
To specify functional and non-requirements to provide a precise brief for software developers who are typically not experts in the area of business applications.
To produce a specification against which the system will be tested, and subsequently accepted or rejected. The specification will be used as input into the validation process, which will ensure that it complies with the requirements of the users, other stakeholders and the business objectives.
Causes of Failure
Numerous investigations into the causes of software project failure have repeatedly concluded that deficiencies in requirements management have been amongst the most important contributors to the problem. A report into the UK Government’s troubled National Air Traffic Service (NATS) project stated, “system implementation was commenced with an inadequately comprehensive set of requirements specifications.”
A complete set of requirements must not only identify those that will help identify business functionality, but also the technical or system requirements that are needed to support that functionality. It is not however, the objective of requirements management to identify practical solutions to any given set of requirements, but to establish a brief for systems developers or third-party suppliers.
If performed well, the benefits of requirements management are significant:
- Agreement amongst developers, users and other project stakeholders on the scope of work and the acceptance criteria for the delivered system.
- A sound foundation from which resource and cost estimates can be derived.
- Quality assurance through improved system usability, performance and maintainability
- The effective achievement of goals, as a result of less rework, fewer omissions and a greater understanding of requirements
Source: Oakleigh Consulting Ltd
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