During our 2020 company kickoff, I had the opportunity to participate in an entertaining team building activity.
The task: Write up a requirements document to build a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.
“So easy!”, we thought. But, boy, were we wrong!
Each of my team members defined, step by step, what we thought it would take to build the sandwich. Once we had read, re-read and confirmed our knowledge of how to complete this simple task, a colleague tried to exactly follow our steps.
- Get Bread
- Put PB on bread
- Put jelly on bread
- Close sandwich
The problem is, we tend to make heaps of assumptions when we ask for something, and our counterparts may not have the same assumptions depending on their experience and skill set.
The points of confusion were many: How do you open the bread bag? How can you get the PB out of the jar if it isn’t open? Where’s the knife? And it went on… Maybe you finally finish the sandwich and the recipient says, “I don’t like grape jelly!”. As you might imagine, hilarity ensued. This silly example was an enjoyable way to prove a solid point: Clear requirements and assumptions are critical to get a task accomplished efficiently and correctly.
Information gathering is the most critical piece of any implementation. Clarifying your specific goals allows us to configure the tool to best match the needs of your organization. Clear, concise, unambiguous requirements guide the design process.
We understand, however, that it can sometimes be difficult to have fully vetted this information until you gain experience in the platform. And certainly, requirements can change over time due to a variety of factors.
So, the question becomes, how DO we define our requirements? You can support your Implementation Lead by having a clear picture of your output. I like to tell my clients that we should “start at the end”. If we know what the management reporting looks like at the end of the day, this can serve as a sort of acceptance criteria. We can configure the application based on these reports and iterate from there.
Working without clear requirements can be done, but just as traveling to unknown areas without a map (or GPS), you run the risk of losing time and money rerouting and reworking. The time and effort it takes to generate specific and accurate requirements is the best way to succeed in any implementation.
You and your team can try the Peanut Butter and Jelly challenge too, watch this video for some inspiration!