It might seem incredibly obvious, but when requirements aren't clearly and properly explained from the outset, a project is often doomed to fail from day one. When you are bringing an external contractor in to offer support, you need to bear in mind that they don't know your business like you do - and things that seem obvious to you might be alien to them.
At Reach Aware, we work hard to ensure that we have all the information at the beginning of a project. We know how costly assumptions cam be, which is why we avoid them!
With that in mind, I wanted to share some advice on how to make sure you effectively communicate your requirements at the beginning of a project.
Choose the right level of detail
It always helps to start off with the high level details. Think about questions like:
• What do you want to achieve?
• When does it need to completed by?
• Who is going to be involved?
Once these things are established, you can get to work on creating a more detailed set of requirements. External providers can help you with this, but ultimately you need to ensure that you know exactly what you need, and that you have explicitly communicated that. It's better to say things that are obvious, than to miss something because you thought it was obvious.
Certain requirements need to be laid out at the very beginning of a project, while the details of others can be agreed as things develop. If you're not sure whether something needs to be agreed up front or not, have the conversation. Communication is key.
Who is the right person to create the requirements?
It's likely that more than one person will need to have a say in setting the requirements of a project. But things can get messy quickly when too many people are involved, and it's important to have someone who knows what they are doing to take ownership of this.
Think of a house build. As the prospective owner, I am the only one who knows how many bathrooms I want, and what I want to be included on the ground floor. I know my own needs and wants, and how I want that to be translated into my home so that it meets those needs.
However, I am not an architect. Like most homeowners, I don't have the skills required to create the detailed set of plans that the builders will need. That's why it is best left to a trained professional to design the building structure, create the drawings, specify the type and quantity of roofing materials and so on.
If we carry on with this analogy, there are obviously a great deal of details that need to be agreed long before the first brick is laid. However, the colour of the kitchen tiles can probably be left until later on in the project.
Software architecture is very similar to building architecture in this respect. The architect will prompt the owner for general requirements but will take ownership of the details and make sure that all the necessary parts are ordered, building codes followed and inspections done.
And as with houses, an architect is not needed on every project. Most people don't hire an architect to knock through walls or install a new kitchen; a good local builder can take care of these smaller projects, provided the homeowner clearly communicates their needs.
Getting the Right Help
Here at Reach Aware, we have the expertise and experience to determine whether you need an architect or a builder. We have an extensive team at all levels, which means that whatever your project requires, we can take care of it for you. We will always ensure that you have the right support at the right time, and offer full flexibility so that your team can evolve as your needs do.
Having access to trusted IT expertise that you can rely on means that you don't necessarily need to give us as much detail when it comes to setting out your requirements; especially when you develop a long term relationship with one company. However, if you are working with new suppliers, introducing new technologies, or changing business critical systems or processes, it's important that you invest the time and effort at the outset to specify your needs in as much detail as possible.