Prior to approving any project, it is important to prove that it is a necessary and worthwhile undertaking. It is also essential to take into account the limited resources we have at our disposal and our ability to deploy these resources at any given time and place.
A need can be defined as an essential change to the status quo due to a desire for greater efficiency or an adjustment we must make to meet inevitable future demands or conditions.
A need refers to the essence of the change being undertaken and not to the way in which it will be implemented. That is, a need refers to the “what?” and not the “how?” of the project.
Needs might be complex, in which case they will have to be broken down into smaller components, in a way that:
- It articulate one single idea
- Clearly defined
- Gets a clear priority compared to other needs.
This process may yield a long list of needs, some of which may be impossible to address. Deciding how to demarcate the project—that is, deciding which needs will make it into the project specifications and which will not—will depend primarily on the priorities in this list. Any needs that do not—for whatever reason—make it into the project’s parameters must be clearly and explicitly documented for the sake of full transparency and in order to acknowledge the expectations of all those involved in the project.
The process undertaken to identify project needs must be comprehensive and methodical, since its results will ultimately form the basis of the entire project.
Identification of needs must take into account both explicit and implicit requirements, current and future, in order to ensure that project needs are determined in full.
A partial definition will necessarily result in later changes to project execution, which will generate a new reality. Had this reality been understood ahead of time, it might have resulted in a different set of decisions with respect to the project. Therefore, in the Project Compass, it is necessary to document each identified need, to assign each a clear priority rank, and then, later in the process, to break each need down into detailed requirements.
Organizing the project’s requirements into a priority list should make a clear distinction between requirements that are essential for the completion of the project and those that are less important, at the very least. It is possible to use a priority classification tool such as the MoSCoW to weigh relative priority levels within any given project:
- Must Have – requirements that must be addressed in the project;
- Should Have – requirements that should be given a high priority within the project;
- Could Have – requirements that are desirable but are not necessary for inclusion in the project;
- Won’t Have – requirements that concerned parties have agreed will not be included in the project at this time.