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4 June 2007

Better requirements

Can you imagine running a product development project without knowing what the price will be when you go live?

The people who say yes to this question have probably worked on marketing projects.

Here is an idea for all you people out there working on marketing projects, with marketers or sales people as the primary sources for your project requirements: It’s a quality check on your requirements. It’s ensuring that you are applying value management to your requirements. And it’s about making sure you have properly thought about and configured your product before you sign-off requirements and begin designing or building your solution.

It’s the Marketing P’s.

My web browsing on the subject inclines me to think that the marketing P’s are a bit out of fashion with marketers today, but I put it out there as a simple heuristic we project workers can use to check our requirements specifications against.

I have used this when dealing with marketers and sales people sponsoring projects and it works very well as a framework for them to define their high level requirements. You can then manage your project to a clear agreed outcome that is a well rounded product. Fashionable or not, it is practical and simple.

The method is simple; Simply create a checklist of each of the Marketing Ps and read through your requirements to ensure they sufficiently address the criteria.

I think this method could easily be applied to all projects, not just marketing, because at the end of the day you are creating a product (via I.T. systems, processes or physical production) that people are going to use.

Marketing makes you address the human use part of the problem; does it suit their needs? Is it something they are going to consider helpful or a hindrance? Will it be something they can afford to take on? (Price may not always be money, for example it could be the effort to adopt a new internal system.)

The original 4 Marketing Ps were price, place, product and promotion. An additional 3 were introduced for services marketing to make 7Ps of marketing. These were people, process and physical evidence (sounds like RATER’s tangibles.) You can read more about the Marketing P’s elsewhere to get a deeper understanding of what they mean. Naturally you need to adapt them to fit your local environment.

I invite you to have a look at the project you are working on today and see if all the marketing Ps are addressed, and if not, why not. What implications does this have for your project?

I'd love to hear comments on this topic.