Requirements Management in times of Recession

We are certainly living in difficult times, and changes in our world are almost inevitable, from the political to the geographic to the financial. Unfortunately some of us will face cutbacks in resources in the near future.

Requirements management is one of the software development areas that often gets put on the chopping block during resource cuts (along with other important areas like usability, user documentation, testing, architecture and even coding itself).  Given the current financial environment, though, the need to be prepared may take on additional importance today. Hopefully the following Four simple suggestions will help you be prepared in case you’re faced with this challenge going forward.

1) Focus on the priority

Satisficing is an approach which focuses on adequacy over perfection — you’re done when you have a “good enough” answer, rather than “the ultimate” answer. It allows you to continue to make progress on the overall project even when you don’t have all of the information that will be required eventually. It also shows the rest of the team that you’re interested in working together on the highest priority issues, rather than sacrificing “the good” in an effort to reach ‘the great.” Chances are, “the good” is indeed good enough.

2) Strengthen Interpersonal Relationships

This is a great time to establish or strengthen ties up the org chart & shoring up relationships with your peers. Many people aren’t as comfortable speaking with managers, directors, and VPs, but having their support for you and your work can help prioritize requirements management among their peers, and any support we can get from management is great!

3) Use Requirements Management Framework

When resources are limited, though, expending energy to reinvent the process wheel on each project is no longer an option. A standard framework helps you evaluate each project’s needs objectively, making those inevitable conversations about what can and can’t be done within a limited time-frame and with limited budget a bit easier.

4) Use Tools & Metrics effectively

Requirements tool categories range from document management to team collaboration to requirements documentation and traceability. While each type of tool certainly has a place in requirements management, they are often viewed as quick-fix solutions. Tools alone can’t fix a broken requirements process — tools are aids for, not a replacement of, skilled analysts.

Begin capturing metrics in order to reinforce the value your work provides — you can start small and expand the scope of your metrics in order to fit your particular organizational situation. When you can show how your requirements work positively impacts the company’s bottom line, you take requirements management off the table during discussions of resource cuts.