Completeness (Scope)


How do I know I have understood the full scope of requirements for my project?


  1. Identify and list all stakeholders in the project. Start with the primary business and technology sponsors. Then look beyond these to other teams and vested interests in your organisation. Ask yourself "Who could stop this system going live?". Actively look for teams such as support, compliance, legal, operations & back-office, who may not have everyday communications with your IT team.
  2. Maintain a hierarchical requirements list, with the primary large functional areas at the top-level, with successive drilldowns into more detail. However, when testing for scope completeness, it is the "width" of the hierarchical at each leve you are interested in here. For a new project, adopt a "breadth - first, depth later" approach - your aim is to find how big the problem space is first, before getting distracted by fine-grained detail. Being cognisant of the stakeholder lists and continually challenging the completeness of that list really helps here.
  3. As you conduct further user interviews / meetings, gaining a deeper understanding of stakeholder requirements, add further requirements to the hierarchy tree. If you cannot find an obvious existing subset to add a requirement too, this may indicate a hitherto undiscovered new scope "branch" at a higher level that requires further work.



A common issue with specification writing is understanding the full scope of the project’s requirements, the “how do I know I’ve included everything?” problem. This is a big topic in itself, but there are some techniques for helping the specification author. Perhaps the most powerful is adopting an analysis strategy that always attempts to answer “what else?”, before the “what detail?”.

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