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From Management’s Point of View ~ Define the Requirements (1 of 2) ~

Updated: May 19, 2023

April 14, 2023

Most work begins with some type of requirement received from a customer or a manager, or perhaps from another source. Progress toward the desired results will be smooth if both parties have a shared understanding of the requirement, but that is not always the case. I have also experienced this type of misunderstanding, particularly when I was younger. Gaps in understanding lead to extra stress for both the issuer of the requirement and the side working to fulfill it, while also causing wasted time and expenditure. At a recent Beer Bash, our staff talked about how to prevent this kind of misunderstanding, and I have summarized the results in this post.

Compile the main points of the requirement

A customer who comes to consult with you has not necessarily collected their thoughts in an easily understandable way. In fact, it is often the case that they want to organize their thinking through their consultation with you. If so, the main points of the requirement will be missed by just listening vaguely. But I believe mutual understanding can be achieved by taking the following steps as a guide for concrete implementation.

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

  • At TOPC Potentia, we see the “why,” or the need to consider things from their origin, as fundamentally important. This is because the direction to proceed in will easily be misinterpreted if the primary objectives of the requirement cannot be defined. The starting point is to clearly define what the client wishes to resolve using the product or service in question.

o Define “what” to be done.

  • Once the “why” is understood, the “what” becomes visible, in terms of what exactly is to be done. Taking the service industry example of our own company, we would write down the following content to be undertaken:

    • Summary description of the service to be provided

    • Budget for time and expenditure

    • Summary description of the final material to be submitted

o Clarify who is to be assigned (staffing).

  • More experienced staff would probably be needed for more difficult requirements, while junior staff might be able to handle simpler projects competently. The client’s budget would also be a factor in determining whom and which work to assign.

o Clarify the timeline.

  • After defining the work and people necessary to perform it, you need to estimate the time needed. This is not just the final due date. By setting milestone dates along the way and clarifying the preliminary results to be submitted, you will deliver peace of mind to the customer at each stage of the project. Also, by establishing small milestones for the staff doing the work, they will feel a sense of accomplishment by completing tasks step by step, which helps to maintain motivation.

o Clarify what can and cannot be done

  • What can be accomplished in terms of practical, executable work has to be clarified with respect to the client’s timeline, budget, and any other relevant factors. There is a tendency for the side performing the work to say, “Yes! We can do it!” to secure the job, but submission of deliverables that may disappoint the customer’s expectations must be carefully avoided. When considering a long-term project, in order to enhance our professional growth, there also needs to be a view to “the capabilities that we will achieve in the future” as opposed to “the capabilities that we have right now.” It is necessary to have an objective grasp of current capabilities as well as a projection of what can be accomplished in the future by dint of effort and to clearly communicate this to the party that is issuing the requirement.

When summarizing the main points of a project, we first need to think deeply to define the purpose ("why"), define the necessary procedure (“what”), assign capable personnel, then clarify the timeline.

In the next issue, we will summarize how employees should conceptualize the project with their ownership, how and how often they should report to the client, and how to consider the after-sale services to clients.

Thank you very much for reading this month's column. Hope this is of help for you.


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