Requirements Validation for Project Success

By Marshall Mutambudzi

In any given project/initiative, the ultimate objective is the delivery of a solution that delivers value to the client at an acceptable cost.  This process includes requirements elicitation whereby requirements morph into designs and then solutions/solution components.
The challenge comes in at the initial stage where requirements are collected. Assumptions or a blatant disregard for validation, double-checking the requirements with their associated source whereby serious misgivings starts to creep in.
As the Quality/Flow Control adage says “Garbage in, garbage out” applies in having wrong requirements feeding into designing and solutioning.  Generally, it has been estimated that 30-40% of project failure and cost overruns are consequences of wrong requirements, or requirements collected with myopic oversight during elicitation.
However, the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge have tools used to mitigate the abovementioned.
Reviews – Walkthrough – Inspections
Generally, techniques used to get peer reviews in a formal or informal setting so that any related stakeholder will test initially requirements for completeness and thereby identifying potential gaps, alignment with stakeholder expectations and eligibility of requirements to provide ultimate value.
Requirements Traceability Matrix
This is the Swiss Knife of all techniques whereby, after validating requirements with stakeholders and getting a fresh pair of eyes on your artefacts through peer reviews, all project artefacts is mapped to depict the relationships and dependency.  Objectives, problems and opportunities are linked to resultant artefacts downstream in the development effort.  Requirements are mapped to design components, then solution components and any other artefacts that can be produced in intermediate steps including Quality Assurance e.g. test cases.
The above techniques are not discussed in detail as this treatise is meant to show the importance of having reconciliation procedures to make sure we have the correct and complete requirements. The feeding of validated requirements into subsequent processes ensures quality, minimizes rework and keeps project costs within budget.
Indeed a stitch in time saves nine in requirements collection and solution conception and realization.