Getting the requirements right!

Getting the requirements right!

There is an audio variant of this post here, if you would like to take a listen!

I recently came across a situation where a client had received a range of quotes for a system redevelopment, and had been given prices that differed by a factor of more than ten.

That is to say, the highest quote was more than ten times the lowest quote!

Clearly there was an issue with the requirement specification that had gone out, and each provider had chosen to approach it in a different way – some charging a relatively low price for a simple re-write of what is currently in place, and others going to town with new builds, new options, functionality, hosting and mobile solutions, and every point in between.

The client had provided a very simple, one side of A4, bullet-point specification of the core system functionality.  There had then been a series of meetings with potential providers which had probably not provided any additional steering, as the providers led the meeting to an extent.  This is not uncommon with non-technical business owners, but not all providers deal well with it, and attempt to extricate the real requirements.

So the upshot was a board meeting that led nowhere – clearly with such a range of prices no decision could be made, so our role was to go in and pull together a requirement document, and an invitation to tender, which could be sent out to potential providers and the responses then assessed against an even set of criteria.  When everyone has the same information, you can clearly see those who are trying to force their case, and those who have a genuine offer.

Of course, some of the initial responses would have included a scoping exercise as the first part of the project.  This is common enough, but not a good idea in all cases, especially if you are not comfortable with the requirement process, or in other words not entirely clear about what you want or need.  This is because it’s too easy for he less scrupulous providers to scope what they can provide, rather than what you necessarily need for your business.

This is why an independent requirement document could be a useful approach – there is no vested interest in the provider, but a clear case for getting the requirement set out properly and all options considered.  of course, the eventual provider will hopefully show some initiative with suggestions of their own but at least you will have started out on the right track.

I have done this for a good number of clients, so would be very happy to talk to you or your clients if you need a systems audit, some business analysis, or a scoping exercise carried out by an independent third party who can also help you through the selection process, and even project manage your development right through to implementation.

Call me for a chat on 01438 832724, or contact me here.

Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

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