Must-Have vs. Nice-to-Have Requirements

August 9, 2008

In addition to checking for solid requirements using the SMART methodology it is important to properly prioritize or categorize the project requirements. This can become especially critical in the large project or project with seemingly unrealistic expectations. There are many ways to categorize these; personally I like to apply the easily understood labels of must-have and nice-to-have.

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SMART Requirements

August 4, 2008

In my opinion, requirements are the most under-rated aspect of most projects. In an unbelievable number of corporate projects they are completely non-existent and in the vast majority they are really no more than a paragraph or two of high-level requests which are unlikely to be delivered on successfully. In a very few of the countless projects I have worked on I have seen adequate, or an attempt at adequate, requirements. These projects, without fail, are the most successful projects that I have seen.

Why the passion, you ask? Without clear, complete and agreed upon requirements there is almost zero-chance, yes zero, that the project will be delivered successfully. And when I say successfully, I mean on-time, on-budget and matching the desired scope. Sure, most projects will get delivered without good requirements but you will see project delays (possibly numerous), budget overruns, and final scope that doesn’t satisfy the customer. Many people believe this is the way projects should progress or at the very least consider it a natural course for projects to take. This is not the case. Starting with adequate and thoughtful requirements can eliminate, or at the very least, significantly reduce, the amount of issues and re-work that are required in a project. So let’s start with the basics of requirements. Read the rest of this entry »

Project Example: The Triple Constraint

August 2, 2008

My goal with the project example is to create a scenario that is similar to those faced in real projects. I find, too often, that textbook examples overly simplify scenarios to the point that the answer is so obvious that when faced with a real world example the less experienced project manager cannot distill the issue.

Mark is a project manager for Custom BoatBuilders, Inc. Bill manages the custom building of boats for private consumers. Consumers contract with Custom BoatBuilders (CBB) to build custom watercraft for personal use. Mark reports to Steven who is the Client Relationship Manager. Steven’s responsibility is to work directly with the customer and secure a contract for the building of a custom boat. After a new customer contract is signed, Steven involves Bill to execute on the project. Read the rest of this entry »

The Triple Constraint

August 2, 2008

Ah, the triple constraint, the cornerstone of project management and project management (PM) lingo. Along the way, I will try to cover the most common acronyms and lingo that are used in the discipline. I neither intend to promote nor condone any particular use, or in many cases, overuse, of project management lingo. My goal is to create familiarity with the terms as they are commonly used in practice.

The triple constraint refers to the three inputs that govern the ability to deliver a project. The three commonly agreed upon constraints are budget, time, and scope. They are often drawn in a triangular shape to represent the relationship between them. This triangular arrangement helps to represent that any adjustment to one of these factors will have an impact on the other two. This relationship will become clearer with examples. Let’s start with definitions: Read the rest of this entry »