Oct 28, 2020 | 3 min read

5 Step Agile Approach to a Productive Requirements Gathering Phase

By: Caitlin Whitworth

5 Step Agile Approach to Productive Requirements Gathering Meetings

Product requirements are the foundation on which a project is built. They define a clear direction and vision that will be used throughout the project, from architecture decisions to budgetary recommendations. Coming up with clear requirements isn’t easy, and if not done correctly, can have lasting implications. The project could easily come in over budget, or the final product ends up not wanted, needed, useful – or even worse - doesn’t function.

So how do you go about gathering the integrated product details? In this article, I lay out a straightforward process to ensure a smooth and complete requirements gathering phase using Agile development methodology. And the best part – this process will get your team started and finished in 10 days or less!

1. Assemble the Right People

It’s essential to have the correct stakeholders at the table - those that can give definitive answers on what will be built and current process. That generally includes the product team, developers, and internal end-users who regularly interact with the product. It’s important for the group to have a clear vision of where they want to go, as well as how the current application functions.

2. Get Everyone in the Room

Often, whiteboarding sessions are an incredibly helpful tool in developing less technical requirements. However, these can’t happen unless you have everyone in the room. Schedule sessions to talk with stakeholders about the product they envision being built. A great exercise is having them walk through the application as various users, making sure to hit on the main points covered in the Statement of Work. For example,

  • “I log in as an Admin. What happens if you have the wrong password? Do you need a forget password option? How will the user be authenticated?
  • If you are more front-end focused, you may need to back up further. “As an admin, I navigate to the log-in screen.” What do I see? Company logo, FAQ link, support link, etc.?
  • Once you’ve walked through the process for one user type, move on to the next.

3. Keep Scope in Mind

Developing a new software or application is an exciting and fun process. These projects have often been years in the making and have just gotten the green light to move ahead. It can be very easy to introduce scope creep. Keep the critical success factors in mind that will lead to completed deliverables and an intact budget. Communicate them clearly and consistently.

4. Record the Information

Make sure to capture the information you are gathering in a requirements document. The requirements will later be converted into issues within your project management software.

5. Rinse and Repeat

You may have to schedule a few sessions to cover everything, and that’s okay! As projects progress, new information is uncovered that may change how a feature will be built or eliminate the need for a specific component altogether.

If requirements change, make sure everyone is aware, and the changes are documented accordingly. This is most often covered by a change order.

It’s best to collect requirements in a concentrated period and gather as much information as you can. This structured approach will keep project velocity moving and maximize stakeholders’ time. If you need help gathering requirements using Agile development methodology, reach out or visit our Agile consulting services page to learn more. We’re happy to help!

About Caitlin Whitworth

Caitlin graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Marketing from the University of Missouri. She also has her MBA in Business Administration from Missouri State University and is a Certified Scrum Product Owner, CSPO.