Term Paper: Bad Requirements Can Ruin

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[. . .] (Frese; Sauter, 2003)

Requirements do not exist easily and they are not just waiting to be found out. At the same time they are not there in its entirety or fully finished stage. In the case of the customers, their pockets are mostly empty and they also do not have proper idea and knowledge of what they require. And even if some have an idea, the requirements are incomplete and inconsistent which cannot be articulated fully. Projects usually do not have definite goals or requirements and they are confused and are ambiguous in its initial phase. (Stop Gathering IT Requirements) In most cases, poor implementation of software is influenced by articulated requirements which are bad or poor in quality. According to a research firm, the Standish Group, 31% of software projects are being cancelled even before it reaches the customers, while 53% of projects cost 189% or more of the original budgets allotted for them. Many authors are of the opinion that 40-60% of software failures are due to bad requirements. This shows the increased nature of the problem which companies face while identifying, communicating and managing the requirements of IS projects. (Better IS Requirements Management)

In a 2003 article of Julia King we could find the opinion that on an average three out of 10 IT projects would tend to fail in companies which are not among the top 25% of the technology users. But King does not tell us how many of the 70% of the projects which were successful were over their budget estimates, had increased time schedule or had defects when the product was finally being delivered. There are several ways to measure success and failure, yet there is no strict line which divides the two. Baker www.umsl.edu (Frese; Sauter, 2003)

Lewis on the other hand tells us that on an average, 70% of all IT-related projects result in failures while trying to achieve its goals. Lewis informs us that these unsuccessful projects had in them projects which were abandoned, which had defects in its completion as a result of excess cost, excess time, or did not provide all the functions which was agreed to in the initial phase. Lewis does not consider this 70% failure of projects to meet their goals as a serious problem. Lewis compares this with major league coaches who are happy when a 30% success rate at bat for a player is achieved and as a result the same understanding should be for the IT projects. There are also other reports which analyze project failures. A 1997 seminar paper reports that "In 1992 the Unites States General Accounting Office (GAO) reviewed Management Information Systems (MIS) projects and concluded: Developing and modernizing government information systems is a difficult and complex process. Again and again, projects have run into serious trouble, despite hard work by dedicated staff. They are developed late, fail to work as planned, and cost millions - even hundreds of millions - more than expected." (Frese; Sauter, 2003) Again the same article informs that research by the Standish Group shows that only 16.1% of all MIS projects are being completed on time and within the costs allocated to it. This also shows that 83.9% of projects fail to some extent or they have total failures. (Frese; Sauter, 2003)

B. Elenbaas is of the opinion that "projects are about communication, communication, and communication." (Frese; Sauter, 2003) The lack of proper communication could turn a corporate strategy into a modern day Towel of Babel very easily. Kirksey is of the view that one cause of project success occurs when communication is being open and is based on honest terms between the customer and the vendor. According to him when an IS project manager does not read warning signs correctly that communication is breaking down, project failures are tend to occur. The result would be that the project manager would lose the opportunity to correct a situation even before it could become too late. Projects which fail also have the problems of lack of initial planning. Projects which fail often take wrong directions, or the initial remedies would prove unfounded. The project manager who does not make arrangements for re-planning, or who did not take into plan how to consider fall-back positions when the initial planning would meet its failure, would tend to find that the project would first stall itself and would ultimately have its failure. (Frese; Sauter, 2003)

While taking decisions one should have clear and definite goals which are established in advance to decide upon what actions need to be taken. (Good Money after http://www.stickyminds.com/../images3/c.gif

) Project management assumes that the project requirements would always change, even through the process of development of the project. Hence a project team should have frequent updates in relation to the status of requirements while understanding the influence which change can bring on the entire project. Project leaders should have a collaborative goal among all parties of the project who are involved, namely the customers, developers, direct and indirect end-users, domain experts, system designers, quality assurance people, managers and other stakeholders. Project managers should make arrangements for interviews, gathering user requirements and in assigning objectives. Those who are involved in the project should provide the top most priority to need for clear, definite and detailed communications in relation to the project. (Better IS Requirements Management)

The team which is involved in the project should seek the support from requirements management software for the purpose of developing a common framework for requirements which is structured. This involves gathering requirements and communicating them; providing relations between the requirements of commodities, requirements of software and test plans to understand their correct relations. (Better IS Requirements Management) All team members should have a proper understanding of their responsibilities with regard to the project. The team members should also understand how expectations in relation to achievements will be measured and graded upon. It is the duty of the project manager to effectively analyze and implement the communication of these duties, to give proper feedback, and to have proper understanding that team members will be held accountable for their actions. Consistent analyzing and measuring of time, schedule relating to people and equipment and milestones is necessary for a project to be successful. When schedule control is correctly done, it will provide us the information that initial planning is not following the schedule. If one can follow these hints, one would have facilities to implement a plan or re-plan to follow the right track. (Frese; Sauter, 2003)

To conclude, a good Project management is the result of a process of consistent development. It is due to the process of committing mistakes and learning from those mistakes committed. It is also a process of consistent learning. Those who fail to devote to this process, which is never-ending cannot bring about success. A co-operative approach of the customers, users and of the other members of the project team is necessary to bring about a successful project. The important goals of reducing expenses relating to development and improving the success of projects need a proper understanding of requirements of user, forecasting changes and continuous communication with all members of the team. Projects which are successful do not start with a harvest, but have discussions on what need to be done to emerge successful. If one would pause to collect requirements and start to negotiate them, projects could bring about richer crops.


ACS Professional Development: Project Management 1: Assignment 1. "A Report on Project Failure and Success Factors" Retrieved at http://www.acs.org.au/certification/Documents/PMgt/2003PM1-ProjectFailure1.pdf. Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Bad Requirements Cause Failures" Retrieved at http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/benefits_of_good_user_requirements.html. Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Better IS Requirements Management" Retrieved at http://internet.about.com/library/aa_req_052102.htm. Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Glen, Paul. "Stop Gathering IT Requirements" Retrieved at http://itmanagementnews.com/2003/1013.html. Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Frese, Robert; Sauter, Vicki. (December 16, 2003) "Project Success and failure; What is Success, What is Failure, and How can you improve your odds for success?" Retrieved at http://www.umsl.edu/~sauter/analysis/6840_f03_papers/frese/. Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Ngione, Carmine. "Software Project Failure: The Reasons, the Costs" Retrieved at http://www.cioupdate.com/reports/article.php/1563701Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Requirements and Specifications" Retrieved at http://www.philosophe.com/design/requirements.html. Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Requirements Management Ensuring Project Success" Retrieved at http://www.serena.com/shared/pdfs/ChangeMan/DS.pdf. Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Specifying Software Requirements for Users" Retrieved at http://www.chambers.com.au/Marketing/urs_w.htm. Accessed on 28 August, 2004

Wiegers, Karl. E. "Good Money after http://www.stickyminds.com/../images3/c.gif

Retrieved at http://www.stickyminds.com/sitewide.asp?ObjectId=3204&Function=DETAILBROWSE&ObjectType=ARTAccessed on 28 August, 2004 [END OF PREVIEW]

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