Project Process: Requirements Gathering

When it comes to project process I tend to shut down. My coworkers will attest to the fact that my eyes glaze over as I retreat to my safe place when this subject comes up. The fact that I’m not a raving fan of any particular process does not mean it isn’t important or useful.

To me one of the most challenging and strangely fulfilling stages in the development of a website is pulling the requirements for the project. The challenge comes from the delicate balance of validating assumptions vs. understanding requests that are unknown prior to the session.

I spend a significant amount of time understanding the project that is being requested. This involves researching the market trends and competition but also understanding the underlying business reason for the request. Once I am able to process the research I shift gears and do some brainstorming on my own as I wrestle with the assumptions and research.

Once I work through my personal brainstorm session I can visualize an end product. 99.9% of the time the product in my head does not become reality, but it is part of the process of preparing for the requirements session. From here I look at the development schedule and prioritize what I want to get out of the session so I can maximize the time of the participants. Here is where I can get tripped up and rely on my team and coworkers to help keep me focused on the goals for the session. My brain leans toward solutions and solving the problem rather than guiding the discussion to allow for self realization with the participants.

Self realization is central to a successful requirements session in our organization. Many of the stakeholders are web savvy and offer great ideas with regard to how they expect to sell their business online. With the context of the goals of the project and available time for development we gently hold there hand as we walk them down the scenic path.

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