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Project Requirement Needs For Success: Important Considerations

~ By Samantha Lorry

Spiral bound document

A company with poor requirements practices is just asking for over-budget costs and regular failure, according to a report by IAG Consulting. The report, entitled Business Analysis Benchmark, examined 110 enterprise technology projects at 100 companies to determine just how important project requirements really are.

All projects mentioned in the survey had a minimum value of $250,000, although the mean value was $3 million. Each concentrated on adding additional functionality. The study looked at the business requirements policies associated with each project, as well as the financial outcomes resulting from those policies. It could then decide which policies often lead to the success of a project.

The study found that 68 out of the 100 companies had poor requirements practices. These companies were more likely to have a marginal project or outright failure than a success and their projects were more likely to run away (take 80% longer than expected, deliver a product 30% less functional than desired, or cost more than 160% of the original budget). These poor analysis capabilities led to three times more project failures than successes.

The remaining 32 companies were more likely than not to have projects be delivered on time and on budget with the expected functionality, due to the superior business requirements processes, technologies, and competencies of people in the organisation.

A common question among business owners is how they can improve their requirements process. The questionnaire has a lot of suggestions for those clueless business owners, such as choosing and meticulously reviewing three aspects of their current documentation, or making substandard projects redo their requirements. Other advice for them in the study includes:

Focus on requirements as a process instead of a deliverable. Companies that focus on both the process and the deliverables of requirements are far more successful than those that only focus on the documentation quality. Focusing on the progress and techniques used to develop documentation is essential to gaining economic advantage and success.

Seventy percent of all companies in the study needed better IT personnel than they had available. Your company will be far more efficient once you have employees with sufficient competence in position to work on projects where their skills are needed.

Make a commitment to change. Most organisations know that requirements are important; few actually change their routine. CIOs must look at making improvement across all the areas of people, process, and tools used to support processes to gain organisational improvement.

None of these are as easy as they sound, however. Improving business requirements practices involves making systematic changes throughout an organisation. Plus, even companies with optimised requirements processes still have to deal with scope creep, mistakes, and failures. According to the report, even the best companies end up spending an average of $3.63 million on a project budgeted to cost $3 million. But that's a big improvement over most companies, who meet their budget expectations on fewer than 20 percent of all projects. IAG Consulting says that by implementing better requirements practices, companies can, and do, achieve over 80% success rates and can bring the majority of strategic projects in on time and on budget.


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