Getting Requirements Right First Time

It is less expensive and certainly more efficient to get requirements right the first time.   It is a truism that trying to change a computer system AFTER it has been built can be much more expensive than having done it right the first time. This is even true of systems built using Content Management Systems like WordPress – although WP does make this much easier!

Oftentimes the reasons why systems are built that end up having to be changed is because we don’t ask the right questions, and listen to what the client THINKS they want – not what they really NEED. As techs we can also sometimes be caught up with all the bells and whistles that can be built into a system, rather than concentrating on what is actually needed and the business processes involved.

If you were a tractor-mower salesman trying to sell to a potential customer, you might be tempted to blind them with features – particularly if you were hustling a more expensive model.

You might ask questions like:

  • What power engine do you want?
  • How wide a blade do you need?
  • Do you want power start for the mower?

These are issues that need to be resolved, but your potential customer may not have a clue how to answer them.
How much BETTER would it be if you asked questions like this:

  • How BIG is your yard?
  • Is there any slope on your lawn?
  • Are there any trees in the way?

You can see that these are questions your customer can easily answer, and will guide you as to the best model for the job.
Similarly, questions about computer systems and websites should be couched in terms that show an understanding of the goal a potential client wants to achieve, rather than blinding them with science and techno-babble.

Asking the right questions instead of selling a bill of goods can ensure that you get the Requirements right the first time.


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