All the project management practices advocates that the requirements should be properly documented. I agree to this. But it is not very infrequent that you get the requirements over the phone or verbally. Someone just called in and asked you to some changes in the module that is currently being developed. And if you are not unlike me, you know the consequences sometimes are very drastic in nature.
Let me explain this by an example. Once there was a psychotherapist – highly educated and very talented. He decided to open a clinic in the city. Once everything was done, he called up a local painter and asked him to paint his signboard. The painter did his job very well but when our psychotherapist saw this, he fainted. He then starts shouting at the painter. And painter was not able to understand what went wrong. What actually happened was that the the painter was asked to pain ‘Psychotherapist’ on the sign board. However, he painted ‘psycho the rapist’.
I hope you can now imagine what happens with the verbal or telephonic requirements. So how to cope with these? In practical scenario, you cannot avoid verbal requirements. I follow a process, which I call ACR (or Accurately Confirmed Requirements, as my teammates call this) to cope with such situations. The three step process goes as below:
- Accept the verbal or telephonic requirements – since you cannot avoid this, it’s better to accept this strategically.
- Confirm – once you have received the verbal or telephonic requirements, review them in your head to make them more clear. Once you know clearly what the caller wants, draft a mail. Write down what you understood and send it back to the person who gave you the requirements. Ask him to confirm whether your comprehension of his thoughts is right. This will help you both to be on the same page.
- Record – After getting the confirmation from originator of the requirements, document it. You may need to update the requirement documents or project scope statement.
ACR is always followed by the planning and execution on the new requirements.
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