Have you ever tried to put together a 1000 piece puzzle? When you open the box and dump out the pieces it feels overwhelming. Just like requirements can feel when a new project is getting started. How do you turn all of the pieces, with different shapes and different colors, into a cohesive picture? This is not a perfect analogy because requirements also come in different sizes, different levels of detail and have to be reviewed and understood by many different people.
I am surprised at how few analysts have access to a requirements management tool. A requirements management tool is a sophisticated repository with relationships between items that naturally supports complex analysis work. You can almost think of it as a mind map or network tool. Although this is a big topic, let me just note a few reasons you should be using a requirements tool.
Reuse of business information
Much business analysis work is about gathering and learning about business information. Process maps, terms and their definitions, business rules, are all examples of items which are valuable assets. Every business analyst learns hundreds of facts about their business and makes furious notes. But what happens to those notes and insights. Can they be reused? If they were stored in a shared repository with links to other business information, all of the analysts could benefit from them including new team members, business users, and solution designers.
Speaking of the shared repository, are you still swimming in hundreds of files on a MS Sharepoint or Teams site. How much time do you spend looking for a document? In many organizations, reducing file management time alone can cost justify a requirements management system. Having one place where analysts, stakeholders, and even developers can collaborate on requirements speeds analysis and development significantly.
One big risk for analysts in defining requirements is missing something. The bigger, more complex the product being developed, the more risk that we might forget something. Linking items together and being able to report on this “traceability” can provide a level of assurance that important pieces of the solution are not lost. Analysts in industries like medical device development and aerospace are required to show traceability to government regulatory agencies and started using requirements management systems many years ago.
If you haven´t considered a requirements management system for your organization, start thinking about it now. They are complex and take some time to implement but the payoffs are huge. I have worked with several different tools over the course of my career and look back at those projects as some of the most successful that I have been involved with.