Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Just What is This Requirements Management Thing?

OK, this has nothing to do with law or the legal profession, at least not overtly so, but I learned a new term this week - requirements management - and just had to write about it.

A little background.

Several of us meet after work every couple of weeks or so for a few drinks and dinner, and last week Barry (don't-use-my-real-name) Boston brought along a new face to join the group. The newbie, whose name escapes me (hate when that happens) so I'll just call him Johnny for now, is a project manager for the product development division, and to make him feel more comfortable we all started peppering him with questions about his work.

Someone asked him what the toughest part of his job was and he told us that until two months ago it was requirements management. Say what?

Seems that whenever someone comes up with a new project there have specific things they want the product to accomplish, or requirements. Now it was making sense.

A big part of Johnny's job is keeping track of the project and making sure it is progressing and requirements are are on track. He was using a spreadsheet to keep track of everything, but it was a cumbersome process. He had to enter everything himself and it was eating up all his time, so he started looking around for a tool that could free up his time by streamlining the process and give responsibility to the designers and engineers.

What he found was on-demand requirements management software - now there's a mouthful. The on-demand part means that it is web-based, so it can be accessed by anyone working on the project from any computer. And since several of the designers liked to take work home with them, Johnny thought this was perfect.

The software is fully customizable so if the client wanted to add a requirement it was easy and everyone could instantly know about the addition. Tracking of all requirements was a breeze, he said, as was the prioritization.

In fact, using the Accompa software saved so much time he had just received a pretty good-sized bonus and picked up the tab for all of us.

Not only did we learn something new, we also got a free meal! Not a bad deal, hun?

We're hoping Johnny comes back next time, and I promised to remember his name.

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