PM Minute: Plain-Language Requirements

One of the most important skills for a project manager is the ability to capture the various needs of the project sponsor and stakeholders and to translate those needs into requirements.

It’s also one of the most difficult. The project manager must understand the stakeholder needs well enough to translate them into work packages and set a vision of the end state for the project team.

One way that I try to help this process is by making my first conversation with the sponsor around requirements as informal as possible.

The first conversation rarely mentions the word “requirements” or any formal PM-speak. It’s more likely to start with “I understand you need a project to do X. What are we trying to solve?” Once the solution is clearly understood, then you can get deeper into the details by asking things like “What do you need it to do or look like, etc.?”

More granular details are necessary and can come later with he SMEs. But, for that first talk with the stakeholder, strive for a high level, plain language understanding of the problem and the solution as they see it.