Don’t blame the project manager
A 2005 ESI International survey of 2,000 business professionals reveled the following statistics on why projects failed:
- Lack of qualified resources - 3%
- Communication problems - 14%
- Inadequate risk management - 17%
- Poor scope control - 15%
- Others - 1%
- Poor requirements definition - 50%
The survey question was: “What are the key challenges in translating user needs into system specifications for mission critical projects?” If requirement’s definition is an issue why does the project manager get the blame?
Requirement types, stakeholder interaction and customer sign-off are the three main factors of poor requirements definition.
We need to be clear about requirements and what they mean. Requirements are of many types:
- Business requirements: These are the strategic objectives of the organization. They tell us why we start a project: what the project objectives are.
- User requirements: These set of requirements tell us how the user intends to interact with the solution.
- Functional requirements: These are the capabilities of the system.
Each of these requirements means interaction with a number of stakeholders at various levels within your client’s organization.
In order to elicit correct requirements the Business Analyst needs to identify all the stakeholders who are involved in the project. Stakeholders include end users, their supervisors, managers and the client management team.
Where you have a team of Business Analysts working on a project, all the links on the requirements chain must be strong. Any weak link will cause the project to fail. This means all the business analysts in the entire chain must be competent and on the same boat, working towards the same objective.
It is quite apparent that customer sign-off is important before the development phase to ensure the requirements definition is correct. However, often times end users are not sophisticated to understand the use cases and sign off thinking they will rectify the errors later. This is very costly and can jeopardize the project.
It is very important that the customer understands what is being built right from the get go - and if that means developing prototypes, it needs to be done at the outset - before production begins.
So the next time your project fails or you are currently starting at the project failure in the face, chances are the requirements were not defined correctly. The business analyst must share the responsibility for the failure. Project managers are only as good as their team.Project Management categories.