The Perfect Requirements Document
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The requirements document can never be perfect unfortunately. Most of the time the requirements document is outdated before someone actually reads it but it is still a very valuable tool for documenting requirements in a lot of organisations. It is also often pivotal to the project to both go to business case or progress into an analysis and design phase, depending on their company methodology. This page will give you tips for how to manage your requirements document in terms of feedback, approvals.
Who should Review & Approve the Requirements Document?
A good place to start when determining the readers (reviewers and approvers) of your project requirements document will be your stakeholder list. Focus here on both the requirements document specific stakeholders but also some other high priority stakeholders for the project. Although it is important to involve the correct people in providing feedback and approvals, you should really try and keep this to a minimum number of people.
Sometimes you need a few senior stakeholders’ to sign off on the requirements document too and they may not have been very involved in the process of gathering and reviewing requirements during the documentation phase. You deal with this situation by offering to provide them with a summary walkthrough of the document. You can present this summary in an executive style presentation pack which talks their language. When you do the actual walk through session with them always also have to complete requirement document handy. Ask whether they have any questions or concerns. If they can’t commit to approval as an outcome of that walk through, ask them under which conditions would they be ready to provide approval.
How do you gather feedback from reviewers?
A quick way is to do a walk through session. Send your requirements document out to all reviewers a week before (if you have luxury of time) and schedule a couple of walk through sessions. Ideally capture people’s feedback there and then and update it online there and then! This is ideal. If you need to send them an electronic copy, try and get them to use a requirements feedback form instead of making direct updates to your requirements document. Make it clear when you expect to have all feedback in and if your stakeholders are tardy in responding (which they often are!) give them a call and ask whether you could schedule time to walk them through or answer any questions.
Getting that Approval!
First talk to your project manager and determine which approvals are really critical for the project to be able to progress. They normally have a sub set of key people that really need to approve from a Steering Committee perspective. There are sometimes people on the approvals list that is not that crucial to get approvals from or you could accept delegations. Once you know who the key people are, rope your project manager in to help you chase approvals with more senior people. I am of the strong belief that our requirement document is a project deliverable and not technical our responsibility to chase! I am sure some PM’s will disagree…you decide.