As mentioned in last week’s “Getting Started Part I”, I start each project by making notes about what I already know about the project. These are some questions I like to answer about each project to document what I know before I can produce my detailed requirements plan.

Has there been a Project Manager assigned? Do I know the project sponsor? Do I know the priority of the project? Are my role and expected deliverables defined and understood by the project team? Is there a standard methodology that I must follow? Is there a timeline and budget provided for the requirements activities?

Is there any existing project documentation?  I want to know what has been done (what does the project team know already?). I do not want to duplicate completed tasks. I like to review any documentation available because I may have questions (ok, I always have some questions!).

Do I understand the project purpose and the objectives? Do I know which business processes should be studied? Do I have a good idea about the high-level business requirements and goals? Do I clearly understand the boundaries of this project? Which organizations, people, or systems supply information or requests to the project and who needs to receive information from the project? Do I understand which areas of the business are out of scope?

Who are the key stakeholders who will provide and approve requirements? Do I know any of the stakeholders from previous projects? Do I understand their major concerns and needs? Are any requirements already defined? If any requirements have been documented, have the appropriate people agreed upon them? Have any potential solutions been discussed? Do I know any stakeholders who do not want this project to succeed? Do I know of any other major roadblocks that will impact requirements? Do I know any high business risks for this project?

The good news is that if there is a Project Manager many of these questions are answered during the development of a project charter (see PMBOK). Often the PM and I will work together to define the project charter (also called project initiation document). By making sure I know the answers to questions like these, I ensure that I understand the project in enough detail to work out the details of my requirements plan.

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