The secret to true love…of requirements
- Five timeless advice to improve your relationship
Product Strategy. Market Differentiation. Business Plan. Roadmap. Release Plan. By all means, working out such key assets for product management can be a hard and complex job. But the real challenge, when our words meet reality, when our plans get pressure tested, when there’s nowhere to hide…
…is when REQUIREMENTS start to flow in. From customers. From sales partners. From product partners. From internal stakeholders. From anywhere.
Despite all well-iterated and stakeholder-approved strategies and plans: looking at the software industry, 57% of all implemented features go unused by customers according to a recently updated study by MIT. That’s a lot of wasted time and money. Imagine if we could increase this ratio with just ten percent. Or twenty? We are arguing about yearly development budgets - and then more than half of our investments go down in the drain.
So no. The key challenge of product management is not to define the product strategy, the portfolio roadmap or the release plan. The most critical part of our job is to convert the continuous inflow of requirements into a great product. A product that creates sustainable customer value over time. It is in the requirements handling that the route to product success or fiasco is defined.
So…since requirements are our main success factor – we love requirements, right?
At least we say we do. But do we really? And do we love ALL requirements?
Requirements can come from anywhere. And be about anything from fixing a bug or meeting a customer request to adapting your product so you can launch it in China. So it’s not surprising that there is an overwhelming amount of practices, methods and tools for requirements management.
With this huge variety of requirement types, requirement sources and requirement methods, it is understandable that most of us actually have mixed feelings about requirements management. It’s often more of a love-hate relationship, at best.
But there’s help. The secret to learn to love all requirements is to know the general success factors for requirements management. Let me introduce five general principles for requirements management, based on Tolpagorni’s experience from consulting and training hundreds of B2B high-tech companies. These are agnostic to requirement types and applicable no matter which specific requirement methods you are using for the moment.
So whatever environment you are in, these general principles will help you build a life-long relationship to product requirements:
#1 Have a broad inflow pipe - but be conscious of where you direct it
#2 Structure your requirements - use common formats and terminology
#3 Be obsessed - does it solve a relevant customer problem?
#4 Use a value filter - prioritize based on external and internal value creation
#5 Communicate, communicate, communicate – especially after requirement handover
Want to know what I mean with these, and how they will help you?
Download the 2-pager Five Principles for Requirements below:
These principles do reflect a typical process flow, but we should see each of them as success factors of their own. Areas where we should strive for excellence, in order to master the most critical part of building great products that deliver value over time: the handling of requirements.
And don’t forget: learn to love your requirements.
ALL of them!