Scope creep kills a project! One way to minimise this is to get the requirements right in the first place.
The APM defines requirements as ‘the wants and needs of the stakeholders clearly defined with acceptance criteria’. Getting these right reduces the chance of ‘scope creep’ and increases the chances of the final product being accepted and used to deliver the intended benefits.
One effective way to gather them is through the use of user stories where each requirement is articulated in a sentence consisting of a stakeholder, a plot, and a justification. These are developed and prioritised sometimes using the acronym MoSCoW (must have, should have, could have, and won’t have).
The problem in gathering them is twofold: stakeholders with technical knowledge find it difficult to keep their requirements ‘solution free’, and stakeholders without technical knowledge can find it difficult to articulate what their needs are. An example of this would be capturing requirements for a new mobile phone intended for older people.
One solution to this is to use scenarios. These can be used in a variety of ways within usability engineering. In particular, they can be used within requirements gathering, where they permit people to discuss situations without reference to specific technologies or solutions.
Using a scenario, the facilitator places the stakeholder in a series of specific situations so that they can understand (through careful observation and listening) what they need to do (functional requirements) and how well and how quickly they need to do it (non-functional requirements).
Good requirements are the key to project success but they are often the missing piece. Why not try out the use of scenarios next time you gather requirements?