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How to Develop A Requirements Document for Small Business and Personal Projects

04/23/19 | Dana LaRieal Morales

Today, I want to talk to you about developing a requirements document for your projects to help align yourself and your team to what it is you are trying to accomplish.  It never fails when I am brought in to work on trouble projects one of the common issues is that there are no true requirements for the project.  The requirements are often made up as the project goes along or are added and removed willy nilly throughout the project.  This causes clunky development, wasted money and time not to mentioned a disjointed final product.  In project management, the requirements document is very important.  It provides you with the framework of what your project is about.  Regardless of whether you are on the personal or business track, the requirements document will help provide the project roadmap.

Develop Your Requirements Documents by Brainstorming

There are many ways you can go about creating your requirements document. A common method I like to use is brainstorming or mindmapping.  Brainstorming can be done as an individual (mindmapping) or with a team.  It is similar to a brain dump of what needs to be done on the project.  Often when you begin writing out one thing or idea, it can trigger something else in your mind.  For teams, it is important that all members participate in this exercise so everyone has a voice. This also helps because participants can feed off one another to fill in the gaps. Everyone comes at issues and situations differently.  Having the different perspectives can help guide decisions and lead to better understanding of goals and needs

Examples of Brainstorming and It's Benefits

Brainstorming can be used in all types of scenarios in both our Business and Personal tracks.  it can be used for planning Events or Launches, organizing an office or space in your home, planning your garden or swapping systems, etc.  One great example of group brainstorming is setting up the kitchen after a big move.  In this scenario, most would think the cook would make the decision, but that is the worst thing you can do.  It's best to bring the entire family in to discuss how the kitchen and areas are used.  Who needs what and when.  What did you dislike about your old kitchen layout and can you improve on it in the new one.  This of course will change over time as people grow older (kids and adults).

Your system may make sense to you, but because you are so close to it, often times we over complicate or forget things.  Multiple brains are always better than just one. -Dana LaRieal Morales

Another example of group brainstorming is planning a live event.  Thinking through all the pieces that come into play when you are planning an online event versus an in person event.  There are many moving parts, so it is important to think through and brainstorm out all those parts.  Many of these are dependent on others as well.  Knowing what those are can be helpful in developing your budget and timeline as well.

Identifying your Project Boundaries

Once you have brainstormed things out you will be able to determine your must-haves. Your must haves are those things that regardless of anything else they have to be included.  I often call these needs.  Your wants or your like to haves are those things that would be great, but if you can't do it or if you run out of time (or money) they can be cut.  Finally, you will have your absolutely not's or your "out of scope" items.  These are things that you won't be including or doing with this project.  All of these categories are extremely important because it creates a playbook by which the team is working. Whenever there is doubt or confusion on a project, the team as a whole should refer back to the requirements document or project playbook or roadmap.  This will allow everyone to regroup and get back into the game. (Why am I all of a sudden giving all these sports analogies?).  So on your next project, take a little time and really think out what you are trying to accomplish.  Define not only your goals but your requirements for the project and how you plan to complete it.  This will save you a lot of time, money and headaches in the long run and will make it much more likely that you will have a successful project.