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Best Practices

Industry requirements best practices should be considered for use on your project. Examples include partnering, having a requirements policy and process, discovering the real requirements, having an organizational requirements working group, and measuring the return on investment (ROI) of using these best practices. Each of these examples is summarized briefly in the following list:

  • Partnering. This involves developing a shared vision of the project goals and objectives, a set of guiding principles for project execution, and an issue-resolution process. Partnering is separate from the contract. It addresses the human dimension—specifically commitment. Without commitment, it's difficult to get anything of lasting value accomplished. Projects can use an experienced facilitator and achieve amazing results. (See Partnering in Construction: A Practical Guide to Project Success in the References section at the end of this article.)

  • Having a requirements policy and a documented process. Because the requirements provide the basis for all of the follow-up development work, I recommend a project requirements policy in addition to complying with the organizational requirements policy (see the later section "Template for a Project Requirements Policy").

  • Discovering the real requirements. Take sufficient time to work with customers and users to evolve the real requirements from the stated requirements. We always seem to find the time and money to do things over; rarely do we plan how to get the requirements right and plan for the inevitable changes that occur because the world doesn't stop while we're building the system.

  • Having an organizational requirements working group. This provides a mechanism to share experiences, practices, methods, and tools used by requirements specialists to perform their work. I recommend that this group "own" the organization's requirements process. The requirements process utilized by each project should be a tailored (modified) version of the organization's process. The requirements specialists should meet periodically to share insights concerning the implementation and deployment of the process. They should work to take advantage of lessons learned to continuously improve both organizational and project requirements processes.

  • Another activity requirements specialists should consider is measuring the return on investment (ROI) of using alternative practices, methods, techniques, and tools. Some will yield better results than others. The organizational requirements working group provides the perfect forum to share this data and evolve an organizational approach consisting of best practices.

A project must assess the extent to which it should invest in such efforts in order to achieve the desired benefits. See the example at the end of this document, in the section "Guidelines for System Development Based On Requirements Considerations."

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