Beyond the buzz


Are methodologies scalable?

Requirements gathering is one of those steps in any project that can’t be missed. Whether it’s conducted vigorously and methodically, haphazardly and unconscious, it’s done. It doesn’t matter whether you’re ordering a hamburger at Harveys or a web site build: the person taking your order needs to gather your requirements.

When you go to Harveys, you don’t just say you want a hamburger; the person taking your order will want to know if you want a classic or whatever, the person making your burger will want to know what kind of toppings you want. You could be remiss and say “just give me the toppings most people get”; not a problem, unless you really detest ketchup, which is what most people get on their burger.

Recently, I was discussing with a colleague the issue of requirements gathering methologies. In our experience, SMB’s and micro-businesses, in particular, tend to work within very short temporal cycles. They can also have pretty short fuses and regard methodical questioning and any information probing to be, at best, extemporizing tactics and, at worst, unresponsiveness. How often have you been challenged with, “Why do you need to know so much? Why are you asking all these questions? I just want a ballpark, an estimate. I’m just a small business and don’t have the time to be talking about this. I just need to get it done.”

So we came to the tentative conclusion that enterprise-level business methologies don’t necessarily scale down to the micro-business and even SMB (small to medium businesses) level. Is this really true? Do we need to develop a completely different style of requirements gathering for different classes of clients?


Filed under: Random, Web Development

2 Responses

  1. Bill says:

    I believe some methodologies are scaleable. You can use 1 tool for scoping and business requirements grathering regardless of project size. To minimize these steps will ultimately lead to at least 1 unhappy partner.

    If the SMB does not want to spend the time helping gather his needs then you will likely never be in a position to deliver a solution they are happy with.

  2. Bob Mixon says:

    Hi Andrea,

    To be completely honest, I do believe methodologies ca be scaled back to fit the smaller businesses. However, that doesn’t seem to be the “real” problem. If they arn’t willing to accept some level of process then we have to ask ourselves “do we want to work with them”?

    I do realize it is difficult to walk away from work but sometimes it just makes sense.

    BTW; great stuff — keep up the work!

    Bob Mixon

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