July 24, 2023 • Thought Leadership

Requirements Gathering: What are the best practices?

By Marlon Paulo, EVP of Professional Services & Business Development

Thanks for asking! We all know that the heart of any solicitation for procurement purposes is having the right level of requirements, which details what the state expects and how the solution would function.

To create the requirements, the business analysts need to interview the people who will be using the technology or service being purchased, to understand the ‘before state’, the desired ‘after state’ and detail the requirements that will get the agency there.

When we work as consultants to clients like California Employment Development Dept. (EDD), California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH), and others, we find it best not to plunge immediately into requirements gathering and instead first focus on strategically aligning the interview process.

strategic interview approaches

Notice that our process is focused around applying a diversity of interview methodologies, to uncover needs and requirements that may be ‘lurking’ below the surface.

Once interviews are completed, the next step is to detail the requirements in a manner that is categorized as functional & non-functional and still leaves some room for the vendors being solicited to add value. Vendors deal with a lot of similar problems and through their work bring with them a set of best practices as to how best to solve a particular problem. In my long career in procurement, I’ve found that crafting requirements is both an art and a science. The goldilocks principal applies. Requirements that are ‘too tight’ can lead to a solution that is subpar. Requirements that are ‘too loose’ likewise. Getting it “just right” is hard.

Here’s a visual that may help you as you put together the actual requirements:

Attributes of good requirements

In short, it’s a definite balancing act between being straightforward and clear about what the state expects to see in a solution while leaving room for the vendor to apply best practices and thinking to their approach to solving the state’s problem.

If you need help with a particularly thorny requirements gathering, the team here at City Innovate is here to assist you. Around 60% of the people who work here have prior experience working in government. We can help you with the requirement gathering process from soup-to-nuts, including structuring the interviews, conducting the interviews themselves, and developing a prioritized list of requirements that form the backbone of the functional and non-functional requirements. If you need our help, please reach out to [email protected]

Marlon Paulo, is the Executive Vice President of Professional Services & Business Development at City Innovate and the Former Deputy Chief Technology Procurement Officer for the State of California