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The Importance of Considering Quality and Change in Requirements Management

Requirements are the basis of any project. When developing products or services, defining requirements are critical to successfully satisfy project needs. To define the project scope and fully build out a work breakdown structure (WBS), you must first learn what stakeholders require. A clear understanding of project objectives is key. Once you grasp them, you can begin to translate them into requirements.

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) defines quality as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of a product, service, or result fulfills the requirements.”  Successful delivery of products or services is linked to quality – adhering to the requirements, both formal and informal.

When you document requirements, be sure to confirm mutual understanding with your stakeholders, including establishing customer acceptance criteria. Those criteria may include satisfying specifications, complying with internal and external standards, and meeting any deliverable timing constraints.

Acceptance criteria help set and manage stakeholder expectations and balance needs and constraints. Using standard, repeatable processes can help prevent rework and defects. Every step along the way, track risks and communicate them to the customer and relevant stakeholders. Before delivery of a service or product, verify work products satisfy requirements.

Verification and validation are important tools to ensure customer satisfaction. Verification can ensure products and services meet customer requirements, identify issues early, and prevent rework. Verification tools include ongoing quality assurance and quality control, peer reviews, and testing. Validation ensures a product or service will function as intended in its specified environment. Some ways to validate services include final customer acceptance, customer evaluations, and operational lessons learned.

Creating change is the driving force behind most projects, but organizations must first understand their current state to define a desired state. Requirements are the result of knowing where they want to be in the future.

All projects include some element of change and most of the time that change directly impacts users and stakeholders – you know, those people who can make or break projects. Whenever people are involved, managing change is as important for long-term success as managing scope, requirements, schedule, and budget.

For busy project managers, I propose some easy steps to take when managing change:

  1. When developing a stakeholder register, include individuals who are directly impacted by the proposed change.
  2. Also include these stakeholders during requirements elicitation sessions. After all, who understands what is needed better than the people doing the current work?
  3. Stay agile and adaptable! With the rapid changes in today’s world directly impacting our lives, this is more important than ever.

Organizations proactively managing change, as well as projects, gain a competitive industry advantage. Please join me for a panel discussion with Q&A on the topic of requirement management questions. We’ll dive deeper into the importance of quality and managing organizational change. If you want to learn more, visit PMI.org for articles about requirements management, or search for the same on MPUG.com.

Written by Walter Stinnett

Walter Stinnett serves as a Program Manager for Edwards Performance Solutions. He manages a large federal government training contract and teaches primarily Microsoft Project and project management courses. He joined Edwards in 2004 as a Project Coordinator and Scheduler and provided project planning and scheduling support to a variety of commercial and federal government clients. Walter’s certifications include the PMP and MCTS.

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