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5 Questions to ask when selecting or customizing a deliverable

When working on a project do you follow a standard set of deliverables for every project or do you create and customize deliverables based on the size, scope, budget, or schedule? If you are responsible for customizing your deliverables here are five questions that you can ask that may help.

1. Is this item/section/document really required?
If you work on deliverables that often has sections with N/A written in them may be a good candidate for customization. If your project calls for a one line code change you should not have to create the entire line of deliverables. Lite versions or a minimal set documentation might be sufficient. Discuss this with your Project Manager, Sponsor, client of other key stakeholders to see if something is really required. Remember to get the approval in writing.

2. Does anyone other than me read this section/document?
If you are creating a document just because it was how you were trained or because it was the way it was always done and you are the only one that reads it, why create it? If a document is not used or required then get permission not to create it.

3. Is there any business or legal requirements?
I have worked on a number of projects there we had to create a deliverable or section in a document because it was a legal requirements (e.g., data retention policy) or because upper management demands it. These types of requirements may be important to creating deliverables. You may include this information in a document or reference the information from another source.

4. If something goes wrong will we need this information?
Sometimes documents may seem like a waste of time and no one uses them. It is important to remember that in the case of an emergency or disaster recovery your document may be the key to restoring things back to normal. A requirements document may let others know what has to be created or recreated if the product or source code is ever removed or damaged.

5. Can items/sections/documents be combined or modified?
If you create multiple documents, consider combining documents that repeat the same bits of information. This can reduce the time it takes to create project deliverables and speed up the overall process. For example you can combine the Requirements Traceability Matrix, Risk Management Plan, and User scenarios with the BRD to create large one document instead of four smaller documents. This can give the reader a greater understanding of what the requirements are, how to trace them through the life of a project, how to manage the risk, and describe possible testing requirements.

You can also modify certain sections of a document to make them fit better. For example if you have a “Risk and Issues” section, you may consider breaking down the risk in different areas such as IT Security Risk, User Security Risk, Time Management Risk, and other types of risks that can be better understood by the audience of the document.

Remember to ask the key stakeholders for permission and record their approval before you modify or remove any items, sections or deliverables. Asking just might make the difference in getting your deliverables created on time and on budget.

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