In operating a business, you know that it’s important that everyone benefit from the products and services that you offer, right?
That is why identifying business requirements is such an important practice.
With the time, resources, and manpower that often go into developing your offerings, the last thing you want to happen is for your efforts to go to waste as the finished product doesn’t fulfill any the needs that have to be addressed.
In order to do this effectively, it’s important to ask of your business:
- “What” are we doing?
- “Why” are we doing it?
With these questions on your mind, you’re well on your way to establishing the kinds of practices that will be beneficial to your operations in your long term.
This applies to what you do internally at face value, but it’s important to remember that the “what” and “why” are followed closely by the “how”.
How you end up doing things will directly affect not just your own team, but your customers and other stakeholders as well.
So, just how do you go about identifying business requirements?
Ask Yourself Who’s Involved
When I say that, I don’t just mean those among your personnel, but those among your customer base as well.
Every decision that you make likely affects your customers somehow. In some instances, the effects are so minute that the customers might not even notice, but you want to go into the decision making process with the mindset that everyone is going to be impacted. This will allow you to get their input on what should be included during the development process.
By gathering input and finding out what people expect from whatever it might be that you’re developing, you can create an offering that will address as many of those needs as possible.
This is an important step in the process of identifying business requirements if only because doing this early on will not only help you avoid potential setbacks like backlash and public scrutiny, but any potential issues with the product can be caught and addressed early on.
Look to the Future
When it comes to running a business, it never hurts to have a plan for where you want to be within a certain time frame.
It could be as frequent as month-to-month or as widespread as every five years, but having some foresight about how you want things to develop could serve as a sort of road map for where you want to go.
In all likelihood, some details on your vision might change. You may find that your vision was too ambitious and you have to scale back some expectations, or you may find that you can take on more than you initially believed you could.
Either way, looking forward is a good method for identifying business requirements simply because having a plan for future development will keep you on the task of reaching that goal. Having that goal in your sights will allow you to figure out just what tools you need in order to get there.
Even while looking ahead is a good way of identifying business requirements, you have to remain rooted in the here and now to make sure that everything continues to go smoothly.
That’s why, when introducing a change, either internally or externally, it pays to test something out before rolling it out completely.
It happens all the time in many industries:
- Technology firms and car companies will build prototypes
- Restaurants may roll out a new menu item in certain regions before deciding whether or not to go national
- Software companies often have alpha and beta tests for their products before going to retail with them
These are just a few examples where it pays to test something in order to make sure that it has viability in the market, but running those tests is a good way of identifying business requirements.
So you should do it, no matter what your industry is.
The same practice can be applied internally as well. You may have new policies that you’re considering implementing, but rolling them out gradually to see how people within your company adapt to them is almost always preferable to putting them in front of everyone and simply saying “this is the way it’s going to be.”
It could be that something you thought might be a morale booster ended up doing nothing of the sort or that a new policy that you put into play helped in identifying business requirements that you weren’t initially aware were necessary.
With any endeavor that has the power to change the way your company does business, whether it’s an effect on employee morale or a complete operational overhaul, cautious steps are always better than rushing into it.
Your Business Requirements Affect Everyone
At the end of the day, every step in the process of identifying business requirements should be conducted with those who are going be affected in mind.
Whatever you are doing to change your company, it has to benefit as many people as possible while still being a viable idea, but with careful planning and the right implementation over time, you can certainly use those requirements to shape your business into something industry changing.
Manny Skevofilax is a consultant and speaker that helps his clients successfully navigate the challenges of growing their businesses profitably. Since 2003, Manny helps businesses enhance their results by using his experience in strategic planning, financial statement analysis, operations, organizational development, and team-building. His consulting firm, PORTAL CFO Consulting, Inc., has attracted clients from diverse industries in the United States and abroad.
Manny can be reached at 410-808-3441 or via email at email@example.com.