Requirements Management Management: The Need for Teeth

by Jason Questor
Founding Partner and EVP Learning Systems

Many organizations have taken the need for requirements management somewhat seriously, but have stopped at half way measures. Requirements Communities of Practice and Centres of Excellence abound, graced by the blessing and largesse of the executive branch, but far too often without the regulatory clout needed to actually make a difference. They have no teeth.

In this far-too-common configuration, adoption of so-needed best practice in business analysis is largely a waste of time and resources.  Business managers, for whom these groups and the standards they espouse have been created in the first place, can look upon the rigour and discipline as merely something that will cost them more time and aggravation and reject it out of hand. And are allowed to do so.

This is ironic, because the executive sponsorship that creates these bodies does so as a direct remediation for those self-same managers, who decry projects that are typified by cost and time overruns and the failure to deliver solutions of value.  But when all is said and done, so many business managers look only at the very short-term, in fact immediate situation, and derail the application of the very tools and techniques that would result in getting it right the first time.  Focused solely on the optics of the immediate, these managers continue to use their authority to impose ineffective status quo project operational realities that invariably result in extensive rework and continued failure to deliver on value promises. This is even more frustrating in the face of the gains being won by their peers who have adopted effective business analysis and requirements management tools and techniques, knowing that the additional time and effort applied up front is an investment that will ultimately reap savings in time, effort, cost and rework.

The lesson is so obvious: the medicine does not work if you don’t take it.

The solution is equally obvious but does require, for some, a leap of faith and courage.  Requirements management groups responsible for standards and practice must be provided with enforcement oversight. Quite simply, projects that do not use the tools that ensure success, as represented by the formalized end-to-end process, must have their funding removed. Carrot and stick.

Pre-emptively, in order to secure funding in the first place, project initiation documentation, in whatever form, needs to include a formal commitment by the project sponsor to adhere to the rules of the road. It amazes that so many managers believe they are above the rules represented by the logo on their business cards. Even more amazing is that they continue to get away with it.

This solution implies a degree of audit authority in the requirements management group that is rarely seen and that, in some circles, would be seen as politically outrageous. But the alternative can result in the inability to lay the foundation of effective requirements so necessary for successful projects.

From Strategic Business Analysis: Building Business Value ©2012 Jason Questor. Jason is founding and current President of the Toronto Chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis, and writes and speaks extensively on the subject.

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