This article generated quite an interest among project managers in TechRepublic: Project Managers: Stop “gathering” IT requirements.
I know a project manager who has the following problems:
– all his project meetings are 5-8 hrs long,
– meetings involve way too many people (everyone),
– meetings have no agenda,
– he has no control over what’s discussed during his meetings (everyone just interjects),
– meetings are not followed up by minutes/action lists,
…and he wonders why everyone (his IT team, his users and the vendors) seems so confused. He is having a nightmare getting the user requirements he needs to move the project forward.
Projects are initiated often due to existing problems. And ultimately, by breaking those problems down and tackling them, we’ll achieve the project goal. So it’s important to keep this goal in mind.
By treating the user representatives as equals, and showing them our sincere desire to help find a solution, we can bring out the best in them and they’ll feed us with anything we need… i’ve received the most workflow diagrams, files hierarchy lists, product templates, from my business users this way. I love my users. =D They’re always so helpful.
It’s also important to stop the “us and them” kind of attitude in projects, as we’ve been put together to solve the same problem. This applies even in a vendor-client environment.
In addition to this, tight follow-up by project managers during requirements gathering with clear agenda, lists of questions, action items, etc, helps put everyone on the same page, making meetings/discussions more meaningful and targeted.
Projects fail because many project managers forget that they are the control centre that’ll bond it all together to ensure the project moves forward. It’s denial behaviour trying to blame the users when we can’t get the requirements from them… how would they know what we need unless we ask???