8.9 Building IT requirements

IT Procurement requirements are defined as the need or demand for personnel, equipment, hardware, software, application/design solutions, hosting/cloud services or solutions, telecommunications, facilities, other resources, or services, by specified quantities for specific periods of time or at a specified time. Requirements are defined by the agency's business owner, and translated into a specification by the business owner and the agency's technical subject matter experts (SMEs). Requirements definition is the most crucial part of the IT project. Incorrect, inaccurate, or excessive definition of requirements may result in schedule delays, wasted resources, or customer dissatisfaction. To develop good requirements for the solicitation, remember the following:

  • Always thoroughly examine the IT business need being procured.
  • Write a clear statement of project objectives and scope.
  • Know the difference between wants and needs.
  • Examine the requirements definition interactively with the business owner and customer, if different from the business owner and the technical SMEs.
  • Conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the requirements.
  • Document the results unambiguously in sufficient detail.
  • Put the requirements document under version control.

A good requirement states something that is necessary, verifiable and attainable. To be verifiable, a requirement must have criteria for acceptance. To be attainable, the requirement must be technically feasible and within budget, schedule and other constraints. The most common problems in writing requirements include:

  • Making bad assumptions.
  • Writing implementation (how to do something) instead of requirements (what the customer needs as an end product or service).
  • Using incorrect industry technology terms.
  • Missing, ambiguous or conflicting requirements.
  • Overlooking future requirements and/or interface requirements for existing systems.
  • Over-specifying.

The requirements document component of the solicitation is the official statement of what is required of the IT procurement. As far as possible, it should set forth what the product, solution or supplier should do, rather than how it should be done. The requirements document should include both a definition and a specification of requirements and include both functional and technical data. The procurement requirements become the foundation for the solicitation's and contract's scope and statement of work (refer to chapter 12).

There are four basic types of technology procurement requirements—mandatory, functional, technical and work or performance. These may be based on agency-specific or, as applicable, on Commonwealth security, enterprise architecture, infrastructure and/or strategic requirements. The following subsections provide discussion of these four types.