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PMI reports that as many as 70% of projects fail because something goes wrong during the requirements process. Gathering project requirements is step crucial to the success of your project. PMI also found that if you dedicate less than 5% of your project costs on requirements, you can expect to see overrun costs as high as 200%.
Rather than run the risk of your project falling apart or costing you 200% more than it should have, let’s explore how you can master the requirements gathering process.
👉 Get started with this requirements gathering template.
What are project requirements?
Project requirements are specific items (features, functionality, etc.) required for a project to be successful. For example, if you’re building a map application that helps people get around new cities, you’d need map data, location data, and a way to provide directions (among other things) for the project to be considered successful.
The requirements gathering process involves determining what requirements are, who they matter to, and why they matter. The goal is to make sure that everyone has a complete list of what needs to be done to complete the project successfully.
This list of requirements can inform decisions at every stage of the project, and should be included in your overall project plan or in a project requirements document (PRD).
7 basic types of requirements
Not surprisingly, requirements vary from project to project. There could be technical requirements, business needs, or performance requirements, depending on the kind of project you’re running.
Here are some of the more common project requirements we see.
1. Functional requirements
These requirements define what the final product will do. With apps and software platforms, these requirements are determined by what your end users need to do with your product. Referring back to the map application example above, your customers are going to need map data, location data, and the directions to get where they’re going. These are the minimum requirement to deliver a useful product.
2. Non-functional requirements
Non-functional requirements aren’t necessarily tied to functionality, but are necessary. They include factors like how quickly something loads or which accessibility features are required.
3. Performance requirements
Performance requirements are the benchmarks for how well the product should perform. Details like load time, speed within the app, or uptime are included here. These are the basic criteria for your product to be useable.
Remember that requirements vary depending on the platform. An iOS app, for example, will have different requirements than an Android app.
4. Technical requirements
Technical requirements include factors like performance, security, access management, accessibility, and privacy controls.
5. Business requirements
Business requirements define the goals of the project. A lot of the time, these are things like increase revenue, increase new users, or other acquisition goals.
6. Market requirements
What are your customers are asking for? This is one of the more important set of requirements. Talking to your customers and potential customers is a great place to start with gathering market requirements.
7. Product requirements
Product requirements help define your project. This includes market requirements, technical requirements, business requirements, and more. The goal, according to PMI, is to describe the system from a user’s perspective.
Benefits of a requirements gathering template
Requirements gathering is a necessary step that leads to a successful project. If you’re not sure about the end goals, user requirements, or what your product is supposed to do, you won’t be able to complete the project successfully. The requirements document template comes in provides a clear plan and steps to take so that nothing falls through the cracks.
Requirements gathering requires that you talk to people. This means that you’re getting a clear understanding of what their expectations are. Not only that, but if you’re uncertain about something that’s written in the requirements, you have a starting point and know who to speak with to gain clarity.
A template provides an easy tool for collaboration. It outlines the people in your organization that you need to speak to and lets them know that their input is a valuable part of the process.
Enhanced project success
With a template, you’re less likely to miss something (or someone) because all the steps are well-defined and the process is easy to follow.
A strong requirements gathering process and template help you do the work right the first time. This saves you money, time, effort, and helps you launch on time and on budget.
How to define business and project requirements
Before you can gather requirements, you need to know what you’re looking for. It’s important to define the project's requirements ahead of time so you don’t end up missing something.
Analyze previous successful projects and documentation
Past projects are a good place to start in identifying the necessary requirements for any given project. It helps to look at both successful projects (to better understand what led to the success) and other unsuccessful projects (to avoid attempting something that’s failed in the past).
Collect feedback from team members
Your team is full of information about what works and what you need to make it happen. Talk to your team to understand what they need to get the job done. Avoid over-promising with customers (or stakeholders).
Gather input from stakeholders
Stakeholders are a great reference when it comes to understanding business requirements. They know what customers are expecting, they know what leadership expects, and they can also help you get the resources you need to succeed.
Prototyping helps you understand what a successful project requires. Even basic prototypes have minimum requirements to actually work. Building prototypes before a project reduces the amount of time you spend iterating once you go into production.
Perform cost-benefit analysis
A cost-benefit analysis helps you understand the bare minimum requirements for a project to be worthwhile. In other words, it’s a good way to establish a baseline.
5 stages of requirements gathering process
1. Identify stakeholders
Getting started is as simple as checking your stakeholder register (or building one) and figuring out who the key stakeholders are for your project. They’re the best source of information for the first round of requirement gathering.
2. Solicit requirements from stakeholders
Once you find the stakeholders, talk to them to determine what’s important for the success of the project. You’ll likely end up with a mix of technical and business requirements, which is exactly what you’re looking for.
3. Document requirements
Once you get the requirements from the stakeholders, record that information in the template. You can customize the requirements based on specific project types or even your workflow.
4. Prioritize requirements
Create a hierarchy to help you identify which project requirements are must-haves and which ones are nice-to-haves. This ensures each requirement has enough resources behind it.
Lower priority requirements won’t need as many resources. Without prioritization, you risk potentially throwing too many resources at low-priority tasks, causing high-priority tasks to be under resourced.
5. Monitor, manage and report
Watch the project’s progress to fine-tune your process, get better at identifying requirements, and stay on top of deadlines.
👉 Get started with this requirements gathering template.
Copy this template to customize it for your projects.
How to use Coda’s requirements gathering template
Step 1: Fill out high-level details about your project
In the page, you’ll see high-level details in a box at the top of the page. Fill out these details (and add more, if necessary) about your project.
The Project Objectives and Project Scope may be stored in another document. By putting everything in one place along with your project requirements, it will require less work for your stakeholders in terms of finding the right document to look at.
Step 2: Key stakeholders and timeline
Further down the page, you’ll see tables for your stakeholders and a general timeline. After you’ve copied this template and shared it with your project team, you can select them in the dropdown menu in the table. The table is a high-level overview of the key milestones of the project.
Step 3: Requirements gathering
This is the main part of the template. Add project requirements after having met with all the key project stakeholders. You may not use all 7 types of requirements.
This project requirements document will be the main source of truth your project team and stakeholders to make sure that the deliverable meets all required specifications. At the bottom of the page, there’s a button for approvals. Stakeholders who have read and approved the project requirements document should click that button to indicate their approval of the document.
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