Requirements gathering for Office 365 & SharePoint: How do you do it?

SharePoint comes as part of Office 365, but for many organisations it’s used as a separate application. The platform is powerful in itself, but when used in conjunction with other apps within Office 365 you can really get a lot more out of it.

However, knowing which apps add value and which don’t is important! So, how can you get the most from the platform AND apps available in the Office platform as a whole? It depends solely on what business challenges/headaches you currently have.

Before we get into what’s available (you can read our office 365 apps guide here), it is good practice to identify what your requirements are. Our 6-point guide should help get the ball rolling:

1. Don’t consider technology when defining your requirements, think merely in terms of functionality

It can be easy to be drawn in to the idiosyncrasies of the technological aspect when looking to adopt a new software platform. Don’t find yourself limited by technology and logistics – that can be looked at further down the road. There’s no need to think big just yet – think about and define what you want to do in your organisation. What’s not working properly or as well as it should? What headaches do those in your team or other teams frequently have?

2. Think of ‘requirements’ more as ‘user stories’ or ‘statements’ e.g. “As a finance manager I need to approve a report or send it for approval to another colleague”

Following on from the headaches you team and other users experience, one of the best ways to define requirements is to go down the road of anecdotes. Each month, are reports a pain to gather? is there a particular task that many dread doing because of the rigmarole of going about it? Think anecdotally about processes too; how do teams go about getting their jobs done? Exploring requirements at a basic level such as this can prevent you form thinking you need things that actually, you don’t!

3. Run a workshop to support the gathering of requirements. Ensure all relevant (stakeholders) can contribute.

Internal workshops can be invaluable if you get the right things out of them. Stakeholders should contribute to these things early on in the requirements gathering process

4. Prioritise your requirements using ‘must, should, could’ where ‘must’ is the most important

The well-known MOSCOW technique is useful for assessing what you really need versus what you’d like to have. This can be handy when you have limited resources and are forced to prioritise your needs. You can always explore the ‘nice to haves’ later on if it’s not on your radar for now. That’s the magic of SharePoint – you can add on or take away as much as you like!

5. The workshop/s can be divided into functional areas. E.g. HR, Finance, Marketing etc.

Different departments will have varying requirements when it comes to SharePoint and Office 365. For example, how often they need to run reports, share and store content, and communicate with other departments will all need to be handled separately.

6. Identify what business benefit or cost saving your requirement will provide to your business area or organisation (ask yourself “does it definitely create a benefit?”)

If you need to whittle the list of requirements right now, going straight to the financial benefit and the age old ROI argument can help give you guidance on what’s more important. If you’re already paying for Office 365 and not using it, then you’re already losing out financially.

….What next?

With your requirements prioritised and stakeholders bought-in the next step is to understand and explore what technology could support and deliver your objectives.

If you’d like to read more about the next stage in your Office 365 journey, read our handy downloadable guide here.