Upon reflection of a recent project… I had NO idea where to begin! I had the opportunity to temporarily join a team within my company in between assignments. This team wasn’t necessarily newly formed, however, they were in the midst of a new way of working per the Agile Transformation process that was happening at my company.
In order to support this new technology platform, there were several separate teams that had historically worked in silos. Each had their own development and testing cycles and processes. Each had its own deployment schedules. Often times, they each had contention in resource allocation. Lastly, as a whole, there was minimal visibility across the products whereas one product may be dependent on work from another product team, but the lines of communication weren’t clearly defined, efficient or optimal.
The Manager for the Program to which all of the individual products rolled up decided it would be beneficial to the success of the entire Program if there was a structured way to visibly see the initiative roadmap and related dependencies across the entire program. What this program needed was a robust tool that would accomplish this task.
The Requirement Gathering Process
My task was to understand what exactly the stakeholders needed from such a software package. There were several layers of requirements to consider; Business, User, and System. I then proceeded to get everyone “in a room” and just ask them about their pain points with the current solution, what they needed in a solution, the deal-breakers, and the nice to haves.
Even though I had my ideas, it was important to get this right as this was needed ASAP. I proceeded along with the following steps:
- Fully understanding the Problem – What is the current scope of the proposed solution and future opportunities (scaling up and scaling out across the organization). What needs of the business will this tool meet?
- Identify the Stakeholders – Who would use the tool? Who would be impacted by the tool? Who just needs to see the reporting
resulting from the tool?
- Identify the Needs, Must-Haves, and Wants – I asked questions gauging the perceived gaps in the current tool. What were the goals of adopting the tool and what does success look like once deployment was complete? What was going well and what was missing?
- Locate and Interact with several Vendors that offered a solution – What tools were already out there? What was our budget? What offered the majority of our requested features out the box? Which software packages would require some augmentation or customization to meet our needs?
- Evaluate the tools on a per feature basis. I compared the tools by features and the requirements and was immediately able to rule out tools. How would the tool interface or integrate with our current systems?
- Invite the Stakeholders to review the top-performing tools. Stakeholders from many different teams played with the software and provided feedback; pros and cons.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – I offered full transparency in what the tools offered and the experiences of the testers. I was able to further invite the top 2 contending vendors for a deeper dive into their software’s functionality.
- Make a final recommendation and publish the results.
Once I obtained buy-in, the chosen vendor was then officially engaged in the Vendor Management Process. We weren’t done here. We still need to plot out the customization sessions with the vendor, training plan for the users, and rollout as we seek to scale the tool out across the organization. So far, though, I think it’s important to have gone through these steps to accurately gauge the needs of the organization rather than just going purely by the sales pitch. The actual implementation of the solution is underway and is being managed by someone else. I am first in line for a license on this new tool and look forward to the short and long term benefits it will provide!
- What other steps do you think can be performed during the Requirement gathering stages?
- Can you recall a similar project in your organization? What went well? Where in the process were there challenges?
- What steps can you think of regarding Change Management and securing buy-in to adopting this new tool?
- Harvard Management Update, & Stauffer, D. (2008, February 26). How to Win the Buy-In: Setting the Stage for Change. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2008/02/how-to-win-the-buyin-setting-t-1
- Mifsud, J. (2019, September 24). Requirements Gathering For Better User Experience Pt2. Retrieved from https://usabilitygeek.com/requirements-gathering-a-step-by-step-approach-for-a-better-user-experience-part-2/
- Mifsud, J. (2019, September 24). Requirements Gathering For Better User Experience Pt1. Retrieved from https://usabilitygeek.com/requirements-gathering-user-experience-pt1/