Scope: Understanding refined

October 30, 2009
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Deriving the detailed requirements from the project charter takes a lot of doing. There is a set of techniques you would need to apply to elicit the requirements from relevant people. These involve formal and informal methods of stimulating the ideas that can define breakdown of the charter requirements into detailed requirements. These individuals and specialist groups help understand the scope in detail terms.

Eliciting the Requirements

Interviews, focus groups and facilitated workshops are some of the techniques that can bring out detailed breakdown of the top level project and product requirements, into a detailed set of requirements that define the complete scope of the project.

Interviews are one on one technique. The process is to formally or informally interview stakeholders, persons experienced in similar projects, subject matter experts etc. Formal and prepared questions as well as ex-tempore ones are asked and the responses are recorded. These responses help define the features and functions of desired project deliverables. The arrangement can include multiple interviewers. Similarly multiple interviewees also may be participating. Essentially whatever arrangement helps you understand the scope clearly is good to use.

Focus group is a less informal method of eliciting requirements. Pre-qualified stakeholders and groups of subject matter experts sit together and talk about the issues. A moderator helps guide the discussion and keep the proceedings on track. The expectations and attitudes of the people involved towards the proposed project, product or result are determined. The discussions are more interactive and less formal that the interviewing approach.

The facilitated workshop mode is applied when a larger number of people are involved. It tries to bring together the multi-disciplinary team members together and can help bring the issues arising out of cross functional interactions in focus. Workshops help bring cross functional issues get quickly defined and differences can get reconciled easily. Well facilitated sessions can help build trust, develop relationships and improve communications through these interactive sessions. Things do tend to get resolved far more quickly that with individual sessions. Group creativity techniques such as brainstorming, nominal group and Delphi techniques, idea/mind mapping and affinity diagramming can help expand ideas more clearly into specific requirements. Though not strictly facilitated workshop techniques, these are still used with groups of people guided by a moderator/facilitator to define requirements. Group decision making techniques help generate, sort and prioritize the requirements. These techniques include unanimity, majority, plurality and dominance. The first three are democratic processes that are driven by a large consensual group out of the collection of people. However, when all else fails a person with suitable authority got to take a decision.

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