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You can’t always get what you want.

Morgan T. Lee The Rolling Stones may have said it best “You can’t always get what you want”. This is true in so many situations and software development is no exception. Business Analysts and Project Managers see this all the time. You start a new project with some idea of what you want the final product to do. You have several weeks, months, or years to complete a project and deliver the perfect solution for your business, clients, or customers but somewhere along the way requirements change, resources come and go, priorities shift, or one of many other excuses change the outcome of the project, schedules, and budget.

So how can we increase the success rate of delivering a working product even if it is not fully what the business asked for at the start? You can start by asking the project sponsor and key stakeholders these five questions at the start of the project and make sure that they understand what you are asking and what they are agreeing to.

1. What do you do need the project to do? – People will often give you what they want it to do. That is fine as long as you are able to tell the difference and make a note of this when you are documenting and ranking the requirements.

2. What are you willing to put into the project to make it successful? -These three things will help determine what features (the requirements from question #1) you can deliver during the life of the project.
A. Money;
B. Time; and
C. Resources.

3. If project time or money is cut short or wasted, what can you cut to keep things on track? -Cut lower priority/value features instead of cutting resources or testing time.

4. Are you willing to make the project sponsor or key stakeholders (including management) accountable for project activities and milestones? -Projects are often more successful if key stakeholders are more engaged when they have an active role in the project.

5. Is your project sponsor or key stakeholders willing to commit to the answers from the above questions? – if so, they should help you with the following:
a. Define what you need;
b. Provide the resources that the project needs to succeed;
c. Eliminate low value features in order to deliver something of value; and
d. Make key stakeholders accountable for project milestones.

Posted in 5 Things, Article, Business Analyst.