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Monday, April 21, 2014

Do project consultants need to be involved in the requirements management process?

By Beth Nicholas

The requirements management processes within any project are a notoriously challenging aspect that have the potential to unhinge even the most organised of projects. Achieving optimal efficiency within requirement management is not merely a matter of meticulous documentation, but can actually take a decidedly stubborn shift over to the PR and customer communications realm. 

Taking a look at the basics of requirements management

In order to appreciate what requirements specification management really is one must break it down and strip it back to its most basic level. Whilst being professionally trained within project management will see a person becoming accustomed to the best practices of requirements gathering and the documentation of specifications, there are no official qualifications that can teach a person rapport. 

For all the degrees in the world, the bridge between stakeholder ideas and project possibilities is a bridge that can only be crossed by a person with great communication skills and the ability to build a relationship that instills trust and understanding. A project’s outcome can completely depend upon how  stakeholder’s expectations are managed and communication is the difference between them being completely satisfied with the solution and entirely unhappy.
Requirements process management
Effective project management requires dynamic oversight skills

What a project consultant can provide

According to www.requirementone.com the skill set of a consultant can serve as an invaluable tool in many projects where the project team have skills that are highly specialised in their fields, but lacking in a background of communication (which could be applied to pretty much all project teams to greater or lesser degrees). Where there is a project manager that is pliable to project situations and different stakeholders there may still be an invaluable role to be filled by a project consultant and to appreciate this we need only look at some of the roles such a  consultant can play: 

• The identification of client needs,
• Budget management,
• Ensuring that actions are taken to achieve project goals,
• The further discussions, meetings and presentations needed to confirm client needs and firm up what is possible and implementable.

In summary, the need for a project consultant will largely depend on the project in hand and the skillset that you have in your existing project team. Even the most highly decorated and skilled of team members, with backgrounds in Nasa engineering, may not necessarily have the communicative skills required for what is effectively managing people and their expectations. 

Building rapport and trust between stakeholder and the project management team is very often just as important as the tangible outcomes of the project itself. What’s more is that a project consultant can aid even the most robust of project managers in his or her day to day tasks. Inevitably, any project can experience issues and it is during these times that project teams and managers require a sounding board. A project consultant can be particularly helpful during these times, especially as they are likely to have been involved in a wide variety of projects that have all involved problems of one sort or another.

About the author: Beth Nicholas is a professional writer for RequirementOne – providers of online requirement management software. She enjoys quality business management and has written for a number of sites in this arena.

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