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Challenges in Requirements Management

Every Project Manager or Business Analyst understands the efficacy of managing requirements to deliver a successful project. Whether its a Project Management or Software Development, the foundation of success or failure depends on requirements management.

The vitality of requirements crosses project methodologies, whether agile or traditional. It also crosses industries, from financial, manufacturing, construction, energy, telecom, or others.

Analysts report that as many as 71% of software projects that fail do so because of poor requirements management, making it the single biggest reason for project failure – bigger than bad technology, missed deadlines, or change management fiascoes.

And yet, with all the focus on the critical importance of managing the scope and defining the requirements, projects still face challenges in many areas.

As the project complexity increases with each passing year, Requirements management is no longer just about managing documents. Today, Requirements Management is more about keeping your team, including the stakeholders, in sync with the goals of the project and building what is right.

In this article, we will discuss the most common challenges in Requirements Management faced by Product Owners, Project Managers & Business Analysts.

Top 4 Requirements Management Challenges

Challenge 1- Central Requirements Repository

One of the biggest challenges is in building a central requirements repository and linking it to the business architecture. Requirements are valuable only when they are connected and in context.

What is a Requirements Repository?

Requirements repository is a method of storing requirements, including those unplanned, underdeveloped, under review, and approved requirements. The repository acts as a single source of requirements and is available to all authorized users for as long as they need it.

Lack of a centralized requirements repository can impact team collaboration, interrupt synchronization between product owners and developers. Depending on static documents and spreadsheets breaks the workflow as it often gets difficult to identify the history of changes, approvals, and implementations.

Challenge 2- Impact Analysis

As the complexity of the project increases, impact analysis of changes on requirements and it’s interdependent requirements and user stories gets difficult.

The requirements aren’t just text; they are highly structured information. They have multiple dependencies and references. Changing one requirement can trigger a chain of changes to other requirements, stories, epics, tasks, bugs or test cases.

Therefore, there is no way you can manage hundreds of changes using a manual or static document and make an accurate and quick decision.

Challenge 3- Baselining Requirements

Another common challenge that all Project Managers and Business Analysts face is the frequent change request from stakeholders. The customer comes with a set of requirements, and in the next hour, they bring some new changes, irrespective of whether the Requirement Document has been signed-off.

And if the scope of the project changes, new requirements might lead to project reschedule and increase in budget. Otherwise, you might face budget overrun or rework.

The primary reason for frequent change requests is the lack of complete participation of all stakeholders during the requirements documentation process. By following a standardized Requirements Baseline, you can focus on authorized changes that are pre-approved by stakeholders.

Challenge 4- Requirements Versioning

Changes are inevitable in any product or software development. Almost 40% of requirements change at least once, and around 10% of requirements change twice or more.

Therefore you need to determine the best ways to store and manage these requirements. And avoid confusion about which requirements to use in each version while branching. Reusing the requirements can vastly reduce rework and improve the productivity of your team.

The majority of analysts still use Word and Excel, which are not capable of managing the requirements in a way that would solve these issues. What you need is a robust Requirements Management tool. 

All the above challenges can be easily solved if a proper requirements management tool is used.

How do you manage requirements? Do you still use documents/ excel? Or do you use a dedicated requirements tool (Jira/ Confluence/ Marketplace Application)?

Are you facing any challenges in managing requirements?

Do you have any tips? Do share them in comments below.

3 comments

Hi @Deepanshu Natani 
We still manage them on word/excel/ but our proposal is to manage them in Jira.
That way we can link them with stories, etc...
Great article.

Taranjeet Singh Community Leader Sep 09, 2020

Great article @Deepanshu Natani ! I believe if an organization has already invested in Atlassian tools like JIRA and Confluence, then they should be inclined toward using Confluence for requirements management and tracking as it provides these features out-of-the-box via pre-defined requirement blueprints and is best suited for this purpose due to its seamless integration with JIRA, using which all these requirements can be implemented throughout the SDLC.

Mohammed Amine Community Leader Sep 27, 2020

Requirement management is not an easy task. A bunch of great Jira apps are available for that.

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