Requirements Characterization Checklist – 10 Essential Questions

Requirements Characterization Checklist – 10 Essential Questions

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is not true for requirements when it comes to determining if they are characterized properly. Inadequately characterized requirements are a primary driver for increased project costs, schedule delays, unnecessary risks and ultimately project failure through inadequately met customer expectations.

Here are ten essential questions that will allow you to determine proper requirements characterization.

If there is not a good answer to one of the questions, then there is work required to resolve the discrepancy. Unfortunately, not performing or delaying this work for proper requirements characterization is common, especially when you have most of the information or what others deem adequate. The project then proceeds in the absence of this requirements characterization information and the only thing surprising about the future problems this lack of information creates is the fact that people are surprised.

1. Does the requirement have a single point or outcome?

2. Does the requirement have an owner and a sponsor?

3. Is the requirement traceable to higher level requirements and ultimately the customer requirements?

4. Is the requirement SMART?
_ a. Specific? – With no unambiguous terms. With a minimum of conjunctions. (and, or with, also…)
_ b. Measurable? – With primary and secondary measures
_ c. Agreed Upon? – Stakeholders agree on the validity of the requirement
_ d. Realistic? – The requirement is achievable based on technology and organizational constraints
_ e. Time Constrained? – A date on when the requirement must be implemented

5. Is the requirement testable and at what levels; component, subsystem, and system level?

6. Are the relationships, impacts and interfaces between this requirement and other requirements understood and documented?

7. Is there supporting documentation for the requirement?

8. Are any assumptions, constraints, or exceptions, that affect the validity or characteristic of the requirement documented and understood?

9. Are the requirement’s risks understood and documented?

10. Are the requirement’s relationships to any Global and Ancillary requirements understood? Ancillary – Availability, Interfaces (external, internal, human), Reliability, Maintainability, Transportability, Safety, Environmental Boundaries, Standards, Logistics, Training.

The likelihood of project success increases when there is a common understanding among all stakeholders. Answering these questions for  requirements characterization assures common understanding.

As a project manager getting this common understanding is not straightforward as simply asking questions, it requires skill in communication and a knowledge of human behavior and I always found getting the answer a fun challenge, hopefully you do too.

Posted by Dr. James Brown in accountability, Project Requirements.


Leave a Reply