5 reasons why business requirements help lock in project scope

One of the major benefits of clearly defining your business requirements is they help to lock in project scope.

This might not seem to make sense initially, but here are the five reasons why this is the case:

1. Clearly set boundaries

By defining your requirements based on your business process you are defining and placing boundaries around what it is that you are replacing or changing.  This is, of course very obvious when you come to think about it.

Business process A goes from here… to here and does (a), (b), (c) and (d).  The outputs from this are ‘xy’ and ‘yz’.

When you start work on developing your new system it is designed to do (j), then you’ve got a problem.

Or, you have developed your system based on  your requirements; it ticks the boxes of doing (a), (b), (c) and (d) but the output is nothing like ‘xy’ or ‘yz’ then something is wrong. Or, you may have a more efficient and effective process.

2. Stopping scope creep

 ‘Scope creep’, is ultimately the addition of items that were not detailed in your requirements initially.  This becomes a problem when you start to add bits and pieces, ‘Oh they’re only small’ and suddenly you find that not only is your system not really built to meet your requirements, but your schedule has blown out by a couple of weeks, and your budget is now over spent by thousands of dollars.

3. Traceability of deliverables

Clearly defined requirements allow you to understand and easily track your project deliverables because delivery milestones will be matched against requirements through a traceability matrix.  A traceability matrix ensures that clear boundaries around scope are defined and  IF you or the Project Manager ensures that you are ‘managing’ the project in the right way.  Only the defined items must be delivered and all of the defined items must be delivered.

4. The mandate for saying ‘No’

The Project Manager has a clear mandate when requirements are properly developed to say ‘No’ to work being carried out that is not covered.  This ensures only delivery of what has been captured as ‘in scope’ for this phase of the project.  This point highlights the importance of identifying those requirements which are mandatory for the first phase of the project.

5. Project Steering Committee approval for defined scope

When writing your Project Initiation Document (PID) you will be able to articulate what is and isn’t in scope for the project based on the defined requirements.  By doing this your Project Steering Committee will understand that the project costs and timelines have a clearly defined scope, and that this ‘defined scope’ is what they are agreeing to fund.

These five reasons should be enough for anyone to understand the real value for a project of well defined business requirements. Scope adherence is a key element of on-time/on budget delivery of a project, and ultimately project success


Written by Karen Munro