Agile Development: Whoa! What do you mean there aren’t any requirements?

If you told a traditional project manager that they’d be running a project where the requirements amounted to a statement of, “I want a website to sell widgets to anonymous customers via the Internet.” They’d probably head for the hills.

However, in Agile development, high level statements like this or user stories are the key means by which requirements are communicated. So how does a traditional project manager bridge this gap?

Agile relies heavily on the product owner being closely involved with the development team. In effect they become a living, breathing requirements document. Any time a developer has a question about the requirements it is expected they will interact directly with the product owner to have them answered.

This allows the developer to keep making forward progress and keeps the product owner updated on progress on and changes to the deliverable. It ensures there are no surprises when the sprint is complete and the user story is delivered.

The requirements document of traditional project management is replaced by continuous interaction with the product owner. In essence the time the product owner would have spent at the beginning of the project is now distributed throughout the life of the sprint.

Question: How have your requirement gathering practices changed as you shift to Agile development methodologies?

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