# 2 – The second most important factor that has a direct impact on the first, is truly understanding and clearly documenting the project requirements. In order to ensure you deliver what is needed, you have to get this right … and make ABSOLUTELY sure you get it in writing!
Spending the time to document and collect as much information as possible at the project initiation stage will actually save time and money in the long run. It will allow you to categorize a list of “must haves” vs “nice to haves” based on cost/benefit. Focus your effort on what your client wants, not what you think they need or would like. You will virtually guarantee end-user buy in and ownership by encouraging them to really think about and communicate a clear and concise project scope. Getting it down on paper with their signature is a must.
A picture paints a thousand words. By far, what I have found to be the most effective and efficient way to communicate and document requirements is through the use of concrete samples and mock ups created by the end-users themselves. This includes reports and screens. By requesting samples of exactly what they are looking for, you can often derive the root needs and system design changes that will be necessary to produce accurate estimates based on a clearly defined set of mutually understood, in-scope deliverables.