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From Management’s Point of View ~ Define the Requirements (2 of 2) ~

May 19, 2023

In the previous issue, I wrote about steps to define the requirements which are as follows:

  1. Define “why” the requirement needs to be accomplished.

  2. Define “what” to be done.

  3. Clarify who is to be assigned (staffing).

  4. Clarify the timeline.

  5. Clarify what can and cannot be done.

We have discussed in our beer bash that defining a project starts with the above five items. In reality, however, the process does not end there. I think it is especially important to align expectation with clients and teammates. I will note the second half of the “Define the Requirements”

6. Encourage awareness of the future results to be achieved

  • As an example, in the case of our company, consider a case where we are creating a set of tax filing documents and delivering these to the client.

  • In my opinion, what is truly important is not limited to just that part. For the client, it is essential to have the “peace of mind” that they are managing their company in compliance with the law, or the “sense of trust” in our company that we are legally minimizing their tax obligations by maximizing benefits such as tax credits. In other words, as an accounting firm we don’t simply provide tax filing services; our job is to deliver peace of mind and a sense of trust, and I believe that is the essence of our service. Thus, in order for our customers to have an understanding of who we are as a company and how we approach taxes and accounting, we strive to maintain solid communication with them.

7. Report on milestones

  • The thing to be concerned about in moving forward with a project is whether or not the deliverables being produced align with the customer's expectations. That is, by looking to see if any gaps in understanding have developed between the customer and the team doing the work, by reporting project status at each milestone and reconciling the understanding of both sides, it will be possible to submit final results that are even more consistent with the client’s expectations.

8. Final reporting: Ensure that the contents of the results are fully understood

  • Many deliverables are hard to really understand. For instance, if you were to hand someone an iPhone without showing them how to use it and how to use the apps on it, they wouldn’t understand its value and might not actually use it at all. An explanation has to be provided so that the customer can fully understand the product or service being delivered, along with the value that they are receiving.

  • This is an area in which our firm can also improve, and we have established a related goal for ourselves in 2023. In order to provide greater peace of mind to our customers, we will spend time with them to explain difficult-to-grasp tax, accounting, and managerial documents so that they can fully understand the usefulness of these items and how they relate to better management, thereby providing services that better meet our clients’ needs.

9. Care after the sale

  • This is a viewpoint that is often forgotten, but it is essential for repeat business to have your customers feel, “It’s a good thing we chose this company to help us!”

  • Going back to the previous iPhone example, let’s say you were successful in selling the product. But if the purchaser didn’t fully understand how to use it, their satisfaction might be cut in half. There are any number of stores in the world selling iPhones, so it would be important to follow up with the customer after the sale to have them properly understand the product so that they think to themselves, “I definitely want to buy from that store again!”

Does this resonate? By following these steps above to define the requirement, it should be possible to gain alignment with the customer in terms of understanding, thereby helping them to be happy with the product or service they purchased.

While each of the project leaders in our firm generally strives to implement this approach, they sometimes make the excuse of being too busy and neglecting to provide the expected level of service. Improvement in this area is one of our goals for 2023, and some staff members recently brought this up again at a Beer Bash. Going forward, I am committed to providing even better service to our customers, and I appreciate your continued support.


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