Linking the left brain and the right brain

Needs: The Next Step in Building a User Story Roadmap

This is the fourth in a series of posts that began with “How to Capture Software Requirements Using Story Roadmaps”. The focus of this post is stakeholder needs.

Now that you know the goals of the project and who really cares about reaching them, it’s time to consider needs. Every stakeholder has needs. If the project can satisfy those needs, success is likely. If the needs are not satisfied, the project fails.

Needs are related to business requirements but they are not identical. Needs are a higher level concept than requirements and relate more directly to people rather than software.

Let’s go back to my example of a local retail chain that wants to allow online ordering. Here are examples of possible stakeholder needs for such a project.

Marketing Manager: A competitor advertises heavily that it offers online ordering and our retailer does not. This stakeholder needs minimal online ordering capability to respond to the competition’s claim. This is a situation where agile software development helps. The team should deliver basic online ordering, then rapidly enhance it through a series of iterative deliveries.

Finance Manager: Cost control is of paramount importance. One of the reasons for offering online ordering is to reduce costs. This manager needs to show cost reductions. This likely means that order processing needs to be automated. Orders may need to be aggregated and sorted to minimize the time and cost of fulfillment.

Major Customer: This person frequently buys the same items on a regular basis. She needs the ability to create a shopping list, save it, and re-order from it. If the team focuses on high-volume stock items, it can deliver a limited solution quickly. As above, the team can iterate over a series of rapid improvements.

Make sense? Stakeholder needs have to be addressed. If the team doesn’t meet those needs, they’ll lose stakeholder support and the project could be cancelled. Another danger lies in a disgruntled stakeholder who may try to obstruct the project.

Get to know your stakeholders and work hard to meet their needs. They’ll reward you with their support and encouragement helping to make your project successful.

The user story roadmap is taking shape. We have Goals, Stakeholders and Needs. In the next post, I’ll discuss Themes.

photo credit: Daquella manera via photo pin cc

[The next post in this series is available here.]

Updated: September 18, 2012 — 9:39 pm
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