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Product Scope and Stakeholder Requirements

Mary Lewinson
March 15, 2011

How to define a product in line with stakeholder requirements

scope of productPlanning for the scope of work for a project requires the development of the deliverables statement that describes the product/service to be produced upon project completion. Meanwhile, there is also a need to establish the scope for the product and define its key characteristics (features and functions). In this article we will talk about the product scope statement and also describe three steps for managing stakeholder requirements.

Product Scope Statement

The statement of product scope is a documented description of the characteristics (features and functions) of the product/service to be produced and delivered at the project’s completion, according to requirements laid out by stakeholders. The product scope statement also identifies the link between the product/service and the business need that the project should address.

Defining product scope within a project is a process for developing a detailed description of the scope. The product scope description clearly identifies the major characteristics of the project outcome (product or service) desired by stakeholders, according to the requirements stated in the Project Charter document.

As it has been said in the previous article, a typical project deliverable has a set of attributes to be defined in the deliverables statement document. These attributes are Milestones, Cost per deliverable (CPD), Budget, Resources and responsibilities, Activities planned, and Requirements. The product scope statement should be developed using the information on these attributes and also taking into account stakeholder requirements described in the Project Charter.

Note that product scope and project scope are different yet related terms. While product scope defines the features and functions of the product/service, project scope states the volume of work for completion needed to deliver the product/service with the defined characteristics. Also: while product scope is measured against the product requirements stated by stakeholders, project scope is measured against the project implementation plan.

Stakeholder Requirements

The process of managing stakeholder requirements can be divided into several steps, such as the following:

  • Collecting Requirements. Interviews, brainstorming sessions, focus groups, requirements workshops, mind mapping, questionnaires, customer surveys, and prototypes all together are efficient methods for running the process of collecting stakeholder requirements for a project’s product. The Project Charter is also used to define high-level product requirements and expectations of stakeholders. The process should end up with a clear description of stakeholder requirements that are measurable, traceable, consistent and complete.
  • Documenting Requirements. When the requirements are described, the next step is to form a document for those requirements. A stakeholder requirements document has a floating format that depends on the complexity and specificity of a particular project. Usually such a document includes a list of product requirements with priorities and executive summaries identified by stakeholders. A typical stakeholder requirements document describes 1) The business problem, 2) functional requirements, 3) non-functional requirements, 4) quality requirements, 5) business rules, 6) possible impacts to project outcomes.
  • Developing a Requirements Management Plan. Once the requirements are listed and added to a single document, the next step is to develop a plan for managing those requirements. A requirements management plan is a formal document that describes what activities are necessary for tracking and updating (changing) requirements during the project implementation process. The plan may include the following categories:
    • Activities: A list of activities necessary for managing stakeholder requirements.
    • Priorities: A process for prioritizing the requirements.
    • Metrics: A description of product metrics being used during the project implementation process.
    • Traceability: a description of how the requirements will be tracked if they change during the implementation process.

There are two outcomes produced by the process for managing stakeholder requirements. These are a list of the requirements and the requirements management plan. The first outcome is used in the Project Charter, the second one becomes a subsidiary plan of the project and supplements the project implementation plan (the primary document for delivering the project).

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