Re-evaluating system requirements in the Covid-19 context

In everything we have faced in the past twelve months let’s simply say the Covid-19 impact on our working lives represents a massive paradigm shift.

Now, systems are systems. The heart of what you do will not have been knocked out of its natural rhythm. Even if it has, it is our sincere hope you are returning it to a manageable resting heartrate!

There is a simple point here though: it is ok and indeed necessary to recognise some needs have been disrupted and thus your system requirements have changed.

Now, we would all be forgiven for an onset of panic, especially if you are in or entering any of the following project stages right now:

  • Starting your requirements gathering exercise, autonomously or with Hart Square.
  • Working with staff and others to refine your list of requirements for a tender process.
  • Engaging with potential partners to help you deliver a set of requirements.
  • Managing a project against requirements defined last year, or even pre-Covid 19.

Against these tremors, help is at hand.

Below are simple tips to recover a greater sense of security about what your organisation needs from a system, and how it gets what it needs in relationship with your technology partners.

The simple advice here is to use all available communication and negotiation channels to openly discuss with your partner what has changed and how best to respond together.

Not just relevant to systems, that one!

Here are some additional tips to help you manage this process of re-evaluation:

  • In an internal leadership team, plan how you will engage with your staff and stakeholders on the organisation’s approach to requirements affected by Covid-19:
    • “We acknowledge we are more online than ever now. We must also focus on practical requirements that ensure we can fully support our move to online working this year.”
  • Before and then within your facilitated workshops with staff and stakeholders gathering requirements, set out a brief which includes them in the process of re-evaluation:
    • “Given how much our working patterns have changed, what are the top priority needs you think the organisation has now? How best may we work online safely and more easily?”
  • State the obvious with staff and stakeholders to target areas of improvement long in dire need of change:
    • “We cannot keep information in cabinets and on local network drives, not now we have a desire and need to share information online and work more from home.”
    • “What are the requirements that will help us put any end to heavy paper processing and unreliable processes once and for all now?”
  • Within your outgoing tender document, consider framing a narrative overview of any key areas of potential risk or opportunity within your requirements:
    • “X and Y areas need greater engagement and discussion during the selection process.”
  • When meeting potential technology partners for selection, directly ask what Covid-19 impact has taught them and what better support they can offer now.
    • “What way are you supporting clients right now with online collaboration tools, use of personal devices at home, greater risks to data security, higher web traffic than before?”
  • If your project is in progress, discuss with partners how Waterfall or Agile delivery can help you:
    • A Waterfall delivery may still expect upfront signoff of a full Specification, yet a sound assumption around change request budgets in high-risk areas is worth discussing.
    • An Agile delivery may offer more time to define User Story Details after initial signoff of Epics and Features. Again, if agreed change control is in place, this is an option.

From here? The world is your oyster!

Technology roadmaps and strategies are being re-considered and revolutionised right now. Across the sector, we have been catapulted into full remote working and are in mid-air still working it out.

This moment of change will keep you and your partner in busy discourse for many moons to come.

Simply uphold the principles that keep these relationships healthy: honesty, trust, candour, respect, positive challenge, creativity, responsibility, discipline, partnership, and reciprocity…

We are still talking about systems, right?!


For more insight into how to deliver successful projects, join our 6-part Training Programme on that very subject. The programme is free to attend for non-profits.

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