Posted on February 12, 2013 · Posted in Decisions, Management, Task Management, Tips and Tricks

Gathering project data can be a difficult task for project managers. This takes knowing your projects and knowing your customers. Before assigning a project or delegating project tasks, there are a few steps project managers should master to make sure all relevant project data is gathered properly.

So when project managers first take on a project, how does he or she know what questions to ask customers and if all project data is sufficient? Project managers can follow the three “V’s”:

1)   Verify requirements. One of the first crucial areas to gathering project data is to verify project and customer requirements from various individual sources. This may involve identifying those sources from where the requirements originated. You may want to double and even triple check these requirements with the customer or client and make sure they accurately correspond to the customer’s needs.

If you are unsure of how to gather customer specific or project data, project managers can always create a client intake form or “wish list” of some kind which would include a break down of the customer’s needs, wants, or any specifications or policies that would directly impact how a project is managed and its outcome.

2)   Vet problems. Finally, the last step in gathering project data is recognizing the problematic areas. While project managers typically do this when identifying and responding to risk, there is also an initial step in viewing potential problematic areas. This can involve omitting or clearing up vague or ill-defined scope or data, recognizing the conflicting views or lack of understanding between users and customers. Close the gap in communication.

3)   Validate requirements. The next step in gathering and verifying project data is ensuring that all specifications are consistent. When analyzing projects, project managers should pay attention to any inconsistencies or “red flags” that don’t typically coincide with typical customer specs. This is usually the area and the stage in which project risks are found and addressed. All in all, any inconsistencies should be brought to the attention of the source or customer immediately.

Once requirements have been verified and the consistency of the specs has been checked and triple checked, requirements should then be verified. One way to do this is to pay attention to the words customers use in their specifications: “clear”, “quick”, “detailed”, or “brief” are just some examples.

It goes without saying that gathering project data is an important step in project management and in assigning and delegating projects and tasks. Furthermore, spending the time and effort up front in properly gathering project data also minimizes the time and effort spent if project specifications change or are found to be incorrect through the project.

This not only causes project managers and team members unnecessary stress, but it also costs extra time and money to change project specs at later project stages. This can also inevitably lead to schedule delays, additional errors, and ultimately, unsatisfied customers. Project managers should memorize and implement the three “V’s” when gathering project data and recognizing customer requirements.

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