Anyone who has had the responsibility of writing or reading an RFP for a pension administration system replacement project understands the importance of clearly written requirements. For the writer, the challenge is to commit to paper hundreds—if not thousands—of requirements from across the organization. For the it vendor, the challenge comes from understanding these requirements with little contextual information about the prospective client or their pension system. Because the RFP is often the only legal means customers and vendors have for relating to, and partnering with, each other early in the procurement process, clear, purposeful requirements are absolutely critical to both parties.
High-quality requirements reduce project risk. They lead to fewer defects, reduced rework, lower enhancement costs, faster development, fewer miscommunications, a better client-vendor relationship, reduced scope-creep and project chaos, more accurate testing and higher satisfaction. How do you assure that your requirements are great? Follow these 9 tips and ask yourself if your requirements are:
1) Complete. A great requirement is a requirement that is complete (duh!). Not only should you describe the requirement, but you should describe the purpose for including the requirement and its source. That way, if a question pops up after the project begins,it will be obvious who can provide the answer.
2) Consistent. Conflicting requirements cause confusion. You can’t simply ask each department to identify the requirements they desire and add them to a list (an all-too-common practice!). You need to ensure that one requirement does not conflict with another listed elsewhere in the RFP.
3) Feasible. Great requirements are practical and implementable. If your requirements state that you wish to move to a paperless office and access document images directly from the line-of-business solution, but you have not yet budgeted for a brand new imaging system, it’s unlikely the requirement will be feasible.
4) Necessary/Suitable. Your pension system is unique! Just because a certain requirement was implemented by a peer retirement system doesn’t mean that it is necessary or suitable for yours. Great requirements serve their organization best when created for the distinctive qualities of the desired solution.
5) Prioritized. Not every requirement is created equally. A great requirement is one whose degree of importance can be understood within the context of other requirements. The ability to prioritize requirements is a perfect way to control costs and ensure the project stays on schedule. Implement the requirements you really want ahead of those that are either less important or can be postponed to a later date.
6) Unambiguous. A good requirement is one that everyone can understand without probing for additional information. Ensure your requirements are clear enough that readers both inside and outside of your organization can understand them easily and within the context of the RFP.
7) Verifiable. It’s impossible to claim a requirement has been implemented if there’s no way to verify it. A good requirement is one that can be verified quickly and easily once it has been implemented.
8) Traceable. Being traceable is almost synonymous with being verifiable, but with an important difference. A great requirement has the ability to trace its status clearly from paper through completion at each stage of system implementation. You must be able to trace each requirement in order to be able to call your project complete.
9) Able to pass the “Stink” Test. This one sounds funny, but it is critical. For every requirement you develop, ask yourself a few simple questions to verify if your requirement is great: Is the requirement clear? Is the requirement concise? Is the requirement measurable? Is the requirement truly functional? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, reevaluate the requirement to ensure its effectiveness.
Now that you’ve read through this list, do you think you’ve written or read requirements that possess these qualities? Or any that didn’t? Do you have any other tips you could offer? Can you identify any challenges that prevent you from understanding or writing requirements?
Learn more about writing functional requirements by downloading our free insider's guide.
About Sagitec Solutions:
Sagitec Solutions, LLC designs and delivers tailor-made pension, provident fund, and unemployment insurance software solutions to clients of all sizes. Sagitec has the expertise necessary to help their clients achieve strategic business objectives, enhance service offerings, and lower operating costs. Find further information by visiting http://www.sagitec.com. For more information, contact Rick Deshler at (651) 335-3406 or at rick.deshler@Sagitec.com.