A project isn’t a success when it finishes on time and within budget: the real test of its success or failure is stakeholder satisfaction. If the quality is not up to their standards, then no matter how efficiently the project was managed, it failed.
This is a very important aspect of any project and not one that should wait until the last minute. Before the production of the final deliverable, it is critical to make sure you start in the right direction. That direction is determined by the end-user, client, customer or whomever the deliverable is targeting.
Therefore, you want to understand the requirements of the project fully before starting. That means not only gathering them but analyzing them to make sure they fit into the project plan. That’s where requirements analysis comes in.
What Is Requirements Analysis?
Requirements analysis is nearly self-explanatory: it’s the process of defining the expectations of stakeholders on a project. It analyzes, documents, validates and manages all of the identified requirements—while considering the possibility that there are conflicting requirements among stakeholders. For this reason, you should identify and categorize your stakeholders through stakeholder analysis before you begin with your requirements analysis.
Related: Stakeholder Analysis Template
Aspects of Project Requirements
Requirement analysis can be used for any project and is key to effective stakeholder management, but it is most commonly used with a systems or software project. Therefore, the requirements that are usually being analyzed are those related to a system or software.
Requirements must be:
- Related to identified business needs or opportunities
- Defined with enough detail to be enough for system design
Requirement Analysis Activities
There are three types of activities included in a requirements analysis. Eliciting requirements is the first step, which is akin to a project charter, in that it collects business process documentation and conducts interviews with stakeholders. Next comes analyzing the requirements, which evaluates whether they’re clear, complete, consistent and unambiguous. Finally, the requirements are recorded.
Requirements Analysis Process
The process of determining the requirements of the stakeholders and analyzing them to fit a project plan is briefly outlined above. It requires identifying, analyzing and recording those requirements. But that’s just bare bones. A more fully fleshed-out process follows.
Before you can analyze the requirements, you must collect them. You can start by using our free requirements gathering template. Collection is primarily done by interviewing the stakeholder to assess what they require from the project.
Again, you can think of this as you would a project charter, in that it’s a document that describes the project’s objectives. While a project charter is more formal and speaks to the project in its entirety, the requirements phase of a requirements analysis focuses on the stakeholders, what their reason is for the project and its objectives.
The analysis can only be effective if the requirements elicited from stakeholders are accurate. Therefore, it’s important that the information is clearly understood. Listen and confirm what you record to make sure that it is accurately reflecting the requirements of the stakeholders. This is the only way you can determine the quality of the requirements.
Not only must the requirements be understandable, but complete, unambiguous and not contradict another requirement. During the analysis process, you make sure that any issues of that sort are resolved before moving on.
The data collected during this period must be documented, as it will serve as the lodestar for the project. Modeling is just a way to take that data and document it in a variety of formats to help with the next step. These formats can come in a few different forms. They could be use cases—which is putting the product or service in a real-life context where it’s being used—or user stories, a tool used in agile approaches to projects that looks at a feature, product or service from the end user’s perspective. They could also be natural-language documents—which use tools, techniques, etc., to understand natural language-based data—or process specifications, which analyze output data from process input data.
Looking over the previous three steps, it’s now time to review and determine if there are any improvements that can be added to the process going forward. This is the step that speaks most directly to the planning process and helps the project plan work efficiently while remaining firmly aligned with the stakeholder’s requirements.
Techniques for Requirements Management Plan
In order to ensure that the requirements are addressed throughout the life of a project, it’s recommended that one makes a plan for effective requirements management. There are different techniques that project managers use for developing a requirements management plan. For example, there is the use of flowcharts, which allows for the flow of process to be visualized. This helps make the process easy to understand and can be shared with both technical and nontechnical members of the team for communication purposes.
Gantt Charts for Your Requirements Management Plan
Gantt charts are another technique for requirements analysis and one that is well-suited to project planning. They, too, are a visual representation of the project, but not of processes, rather tasks as they are scheduled across a timeline. With the online Gantt chart from ProjectManager, project managers have more control over their requirements analysis and the project plan.
ProjectManager Gives You Complete Control
ProjectManager is a great tool for making a requirements management plan. For starters, you can put the requirements as you collect them from the stakeholders into the software and then attach it to a task, amending it as more requirements come in. All the documentation can be attached to these tasks and any comments are also collected, so if there are any questions about specific requirements, they can be clarified at the task level.
Beyond the requirements analysis, when creating the project plan, our online Gantt chart gives project managers greater control over meeting the stakeholders’ requirements. For example, tasks might be dependent upon each other, in that one cannot start until another has been completed. Such task dependencies can be linked so that there is no risk that teams are left idle or bottlenecks choke the schedule.
Live Data for Managing Changing Requirements
As noted earlier, change is part of any project plan. ProjectManager makes those changes easy to apply with our online Gantt chart. On the timeline, each task is defined by a line from its start date to its end date. If those change over the course of the project, all the project manager needs to do is click on the date, drag and drop it to the new date. It’s that simple.
Because ProjectManager is cloud-based, once you execute the project and the plan is being worked on by your team, their status updates are instantly recorded. This means not only that the project is kept on track, but when stakeholders want to see that their requirements are being met, you can show them in real time.
Requirements analysis is how project managers make sure their plan aligns with their stakeholders’ needs. It’s an important first step towards successful project completion. It’s a smaller project before the larger one, and both need a robust project management tool to make sure you’re in control. ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software that delivers on the requirements management plan and the whole project. Try it today for free with this 30-day trial.