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Listen to your client when collecting user requirements

October 7, 2006 by  

This might seem obvious, but listening is key. This becomes painfully obvious when reviewing work with a client and discovering that she/he had something very different in mind. Are you sure your user requirements are really what the client truly wants? Or are you making assumptions based on what you think the client needs? Have you asked enough questions or the RIGHT questions to clearly define what the client has in mind? Most importantly of all, are you sure the client really knows what she/he wants?

Collecting user requirements right the first time is critical in terms of defining project scope, managing to budget, managing time invested and ultimately delivering a successful project. Needless to say, if you get it wrong, your client and team may loose confidence in you.

user-requirements-diagramI wish I knew who to credit for this original image, but I found it on this blog.

When the client first proposes a project, I like to ask for a project brief. If I can’t get that, I summarize the scope as I understand it and make the client review and confirm. Another kickoff exercise I like to use is to have the client fill out a Marketing Questionnaire and/or Technical Questionnaire with many questions about what the client wants to accomplish and how it will be measured. This homework assignment is good to get the client thinking about the project. Then I’ll follow-up with more probing questions.

In summary, take the time to do the due diligence and get the user requirements accurate the first time. Your project and reputation may count on it.

Good luck.
-Roland

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