Every project is undertaken because internal and external stakeholders want to achieve something. This competence element describes the ‘why’ of the project – which goals are to be achieved, which benefits are to be realised, which objectives are to be reached and which stakeholders’ requirements are to be fulfilled. They are derived from needs, expectations, requirements and strategic organisational goals from the stakeholders.
The purpose of this competence element is to enable the individual to establish the relationship between what stakeholders want to achieve and what the project is going to accomplish.
The individual will come across many definitions regarding requirements, objectives, benefits, effects, deliverables, value, requirements, output and outcome and how they relate to each other. They all present different views of the bridge between what stakeholders want to achieve and what a project is going to deliver. The individual is aware of this and will clearly define, for the purpose of the project, what is needed in order to answer the ‘why-how-what-when-who-where-and for whom…’ questions. The individual will embark on a process with all stakeholders to come to a good definition of what the project is going to achieve for them. These then have to be transformed into clearly defined outputs and deliverables of the project, which again are communicated back to stakeholders in order to define and manage expectations. This process is conducted iteratively. Changes to both the stakeholders’ views and the project’s outputs and outcomes will occur, requiring regular updates. This process is therefore executed initially and will be repeated on a regular basis. Communication, negotiation and analytical skills are crucial. In order to achieve a balance between stakeholders, the use of workshops instead of one-on-one interviews is very common. Stakeholders’ needs and requirements need to be elicited and prioritised, clearly defining what the project will have to realise and for what reasons.
Key competence indicators
Define and develop the project goal hierarchy
Every project is started because of the needs and goals of the organisation. From these organisational goals the project goals are derived: high-level statements that provide the rationale and overall context for what the project is trying to achieve. In their turn, from these project goals, the project objectives are derived: lower level statements that describe the specific, tangible products and deliverables that the project will deliver. This goal hierarchy is influenced and determined both by contextual factors and by elements such as specific stakeholder needs and requirements. The project mission statement explains the strategic reasons for starting this project. Secondly the project objectives are defined, which are to realise the project outcomes within the constraints of acceptable risk, agreed timeframes and budget. A third category of goals is potential positive side effects (consequential benefits). Examples include gaining new knowledge, strengthening relationships and experience with outsourcing.
- Establishes the relationship between the organisational and project goals
- Establishes the relationship between the project goals and objectives
- Defines a goal hierarchy for the project
- Explains the relevance and content of the goal hierarchy
Identify and analyse the project stakeholder needs and requirements
To be competent in identifying stakeholder needs and requirements requires knowledge of, and communication with, the permanent organisation and stakeholders including customers and end users. Needs and expectations are not the same as stated requirements; often needs are not formulated, for instance because they are obvious, not conscious or hidden. As far as possible, needs should become explicit and be translated into requirements. These requirements have to be analysed, for instance using value management techniques.
- Knows the difference between need, expectations and requirements
- Identifies and documents stakeholder needs and requirements
- Establishes the structures for traceability of deliverables back to requirements
- Analyses stakeholder needs and requirements
Prioritise and decide on requirements and acceptance criteria
After analysis, the requirements have to be prioritised. Priorities are determined by the project sponsor (owner), top managers or external customers. The methods for documenting the requirements must be defined (e.g. a requirement specification which can be more or less detailed or a product-backlog containing user stories). Requirements should be translated into acceptance criteria against which the deliverables can be tested.
- Prioritises stakeholder needs and requirements
- Documents and agrees on stakeholder needs and requirements
- Supports and oversees the translation of requirements into acceptance criteria