03. März 2023
Requirements management workshop at a vehicle manufacturer
We are supporting a requirements management project for one of the leading manufacturers of truck trailers. The focus is particularly on the structured collection of new requirements, the discussion in the interdisciplinary project team and in the documentation of all named requirements with a software tool. The clear limitation of the consulting support to the preparation, implementation, moderation and follow-up of the requirements workshop includes not only technical consulting but also the sustainable anchoring of the model in the company using change management methods.
In order to develop the "right" products, a good understanding of all requirements for the new product is elementary. Whether customer requirements, requirements from production or requirements for the integration of modules or components into a new product - it is always a matter of understanding the use cases of the different stakeholders and deriving their needs. In terms of time, the collection, documentation and prioritisation of the requirements in interdisciplinary product development projects should be placed at the beginning. The result is a requirements specification in classic projects, and the backlog in agile projects. But how can you efficiently involve all those involved in the different functions to think about and discuss the context of the product, the use cases and the requirements together? How can development, sales, product and project management, quality, manufacturing, industrial engineering jointly describe the different requirements for the new product?
Our answer to this is the requirements workshop that has already been carried out for numerous customers. On up to three days, the project team and the extended circle meet at a well-prepared location in order to record the requirements together in a focussed manner. Such a workshop helps all those involved in the various functions to think about and discuss the context of the product, the use cases and the requirements together.
The objective is always similar:
The success of the requirements workshop increases with good preparation by the project team. Product management and sales prepare all existing information about the market, the strategic positioning, use cases and other relevant information. Project management summarises all project-relevant information such as objectives, status, schedule and budget. Development and innovation departments can prepare special, new ideas. Production, quality, scheduling and other departments compile the essential information from their areas. The project team supports the preparation of presentations, short films and exhibits.
CO Improve supports the project teams in terms of content, methodology and coordination during preparation. On the day of the workshop, all content and presentations are prepared and everyone knows their roles.
A requirements workshop can be very well enriched by a product clinic. This makes the company's own products, prototypes, components and also competitor products and all the information available on them "tangible" and thus makes the causes of problems more quickly apparent. In specially designated time slots in the agenda, all workshop participants can look at the products and collect and discuss comments. It becomes clear to everyone each time how differently the individual departments interpret sub-elements of the products and possible requirements behind them. Whether with or without a product clinic, the workshop venue should have sufficient space for presentations and information gathering on "meta walls".
Whether one, two or even three days are planned for the workshop, the agenda generally follows the same structure:
- Status of the project (project profile, milestones or stages/releases, framework conditions, etc.).
- Placing the project in its context
- Market assessment and use cases of sales and product management
- Product clinic
- Collection of innovative ideas "Think out of the box
- Recording requirements for the product
- Definition of next steps with clear responsibilities
In our concrete project example, the location was chosen and prepared so that the company's own products could be presented. In addition, an area was prepared as a presentation area and the workshop area was prepared. During the workshop, three important areas were worked on. These included the context diagram, where an overview of the project and the initial situation was given. The requirements gathering enabled the needs of all stakeholders to be recorded and discussed. These were assigned to the prepared functions accordingly. In addition, a product clinic was conducted where the new product was discussed intensively. This helped to strengthen the common understanding about the project and the different challenges in all functions. Finally, innovative ideas and suggestions were recorded in a memory of ideas that could lead to new impulses for the project.
An essential element of a requirements workshop is the context diagram. On the one hand, all participants get a uniform understanding of the context of the new product (product development project) and on the other hand, the combination of identified stakeholders and use cases results in numerous ideas for requirements for the new product.
Structure of the collection of requirements
One particular insight is that during the collection of requirements, interdisciplinary small groups at different stations collect and discuss the requirements for topic areas (e.g. functions, product elements, solution approaches, use cases). The mutual discussion leads to a more uniform understanding and sense of community - "one wants to develop the products together and fulfil the requirements". The following figure shows an example of a prepared workshop room.
Requirements gathering and documentation
The combination of physical maps and meta walls to collect and structure new requirements on workshop day and the subsequent documentation in requirements management systems are success factors for requirements management.
Through the requirements workshop, a common understanding was reached about the project, the initial situation and the challenges in all functions. Valuable insights into the market situation and strategic product placement were obtained, helping to place the new product in context.
By working in interdisciplinary groups, more than 200 to 500 high-quality requirements were collected and discussed during customer workshops. These requirements form a good foundation for further work by the project team. Creative ideas that fell outside the scope of the usual thinking could also be generated and used as a drive for new innovations.
At the end of the workshop, all requirements and ideas have been carefully documented and thus form a solid foundation to successfully move the project forward. The next steps have been clearly defined and responsibilities described.
- The requirements workshop forms the basis for successful product development
- The agenda of the workshop was carefully coordinated and led to efficient processing
- All stakeholders shared a common understanding of the context, use cases and requirements for the new product
- The context diagram, requirements gathering and product clinic strengthened the common understanding about the project and generated innovative ideas and suggestions.
- With clear responsibilities for the next steps, the basis for a successful project implementation was created