Needs versus Requirements

Before you begin the Discovery process, it's important to have a solid understanding of the differences between your Needs and your Requirements. This may be only the first step in the project, but knowing how to produce Requirements from your Needs will ensure that everything else goes smoothly and you have exactly what you need when the project ends.

What is a Need?

A need is something that is important to your organization or your users. Some examples of a need are:

  1. To show my board that our fundraising income has increased
  2. To track my communications with major gift prospects
  3. To send emails to my organization’s contacts

While this is a great starting point, needs often lack a few important elements:

  • Lack of specificity – the need is not clearly defined
  • Unable to be measured – we won’t be able to tell whether or not the need has been met
  • Items that aren’t relevant– nice-to-have items that don’t directly relate to the success of the project.

Turning Needs into Requirements

Look at your list of needs and apply the three elements above - can you make your need specific and measureable? Is it relevent to the project at hand?

For example, if you want to show your board that fundraising income has increased, how do you want to do that? How are you going to present the information to them? What level of detail do they need to see? What do you want them to do with this information? Answering these questions will help you turn your needs into specific, measurable, relevant requirements that your project manager can use to deliver Salesforce solutions.

Here are the three needs from above after going through the requirements wringer:

  1. Send board members a quarterly report that include the total amount of gifts received this quarter compared to the same quarter last year.
  2. Track planned touches with major donors, noting the anticipated people involved, subject, and date of each touch. As the touches are completed, update the date of completion and include notes from your interaction with the donor.
  3. Group contacts into email lists based on interests. Send mass emails to a list, personalizing the emails with each contact’s name. Report on the open rate and click-through rate of each email.

Tips for Creating Great Requirements

  • Make sure all of your stakeholders have input when identifying your needs and requirements, particularly the people who will be using your Salesforce instance on a daily basis. Bringing these people in at this stage of the process will help you avoid challenges with user adoption later on.
  • Prioritize your requirements. You may not be able to accomplish everything on your list during your project. Make sure you know which requirements are the most important so your project manager can tackle those first.
  • Leave room for flexible solutions. While your requirements should be specific, remember to keep an open mind.
  • Be thorough and make sure you're capturing ALL your requirements before configuration begins.