The reason behind any unsuccessful project is mostly because the requirements were not gathered correctly and weren’t clear at the start of the project. This is also true for most of the healthcare projects where the customers are usually aren’t clear about the requirement. They tend to incorporate many changes in all the project phases leading to project delays.
So what exactly is a requirement gathering or requirement elicitation? It can be defined as the process of generating a list of requirements either function, system, or technical from various stakeholders like customers, users, vendors, IT staff, etc. which will be used by the project team. (Inflectra, January 29, 2020). This includes three phases requirement gathering, documentation, and understanding.
The gathering phases means getting the details from all the new customers who will be end-users of the newly formed systems. The documentation phase is to create user stories, software, and feature specifications document which can be easily accessed by the development team. The requirement understating phase is to make sure that all the team members are well versed about what they expected to build. So let’s look at some of the important points to consider while gathering business requirements for a healthcare project:
Communicate with the actual stakeholders
This is very important as every healthcare project has some stakeholders who are hidden in the initial project phases. To get the right requirement we need to identify who the real stakeholders are and they should be asked the right questions in the kick-off meetings. This brings clarity right from the start and thus helps the team build a product that was expected as per the end-user.
Document and sign every communication
So we often get busy in carrying out stakeholder(doctors, patients, healthcare professionals, etc) interviews, calls, webinars, demo, and presentation, though we take down small notes during all these activities it is very important to document all the changes and requirements as told by the client. This is more effective if done soon after a meeting so that we don’t forget to document later. This documentation always helps if in the future things don’t work out your way and you have a written document proof with the stakeholder’s sign on it.
Set project goals at the start
In healthcare, just like documenting the project and getting it signed from the stakeholders, we need to set clear project goals at the beginning. This helps to make successful future project decisions. If a goal is set, it is easy for the team to evaluate their progress as they need to tally how much goals they have accomplished as compared to the original list. This also helps to save money as there is no waste of resources due to clear project goals.
Never assume requirements and be transparent
Even if the requirement stated is very simple like adding a field on the patient form on the client’s website, we still need to ask ample questions and document it. Like on which health forms the field will be placed, what validations to apply, any specific error messages to display, will be a simple textbox, drop-down or a radio button, etc. so asking these questions will also give the healthcare professionals clarity about what they need. We need to be transparent about any new changes and communicate it to the team and the stakeholders so that all are on the same page of underrating the project.
Prioritize product features
Irrespective of the project model we are following i.e. either agile or any traditional approach prioritizing always helps. Like it is important to bifurcate the requirements into “nice-to-have”, “future wishlists”, and the “main tasks” to focus. Many times in the healthcare industry the healthcare professionals don’t define the actual thing needed but only state what will be good to have. In this case, the team must be vigilant enough to prioritize what is important and compare it with the initial project scope. Doing this will help them to be on schedule and complete the project on-time.
Setbacks are normal
So let’s say our team has followed all the above tasks nicely and also the stakeholders have given the right information, still, we face delays how? Its simple as both the stakeholder and the team are a bunch of humans and humans tend to make mistakes! There can be new health reforms and regulations that need to be included just before a project delivery or a new very important change from the stakeholders. So we can’t just ignore these elements and go ahead and deliver the project right? So what can help in this case? In such cases, prioritizing and comparing the new changes with the original project requirement document can help to a great extent.
- Inflectra, January 29, 2020. Requirements Gathering. [Online] Available at https://www.inflectra.com/ideas/topic/requirements-gathering.aspx [Accessed 7 October 2020].