new application actually made the process worse. It now took almost 45
minutes to complete a transaction. The key reason was that the manage-
ment team didn’t truly understand the process and designed it from their
perspective. What was missing was the perspective of the group that was
actually completing the transactions and using the application.
It is easy to get confused regarding who the true customer is. The
management team was responsible for the ultimate signoff and accept-
ance of the project—not to mention they signed the check. Their goal
was to reduce the overall processing time. In reality, they didn’t care
how the time frame was reduced, just that the application made it faster
per transaction. The mistake was not including the real user: the data
entry personnel who would be completing the work.
Sponsors and users should be treated like functional and technical
requirements. The “what” and the “how” should be separated. The
management team should have identified what they wanted and the
success criteria. The users should have been involved in how to make
such criteria happen. Do not forget to include the real customer in the
requirements definition process.
Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary
One of the key ways to ensure that requirements are clearly identified and
met is to ensure that a proper work breakdown structure (WBS) diction-
ary is utilized. A WBS dictionary takes each element of a defined WBS
(described in Chapter 7) and provides detail surrounding the task. A
WBS dictionary is usually a form for the project team to fill out for each
task. It is normally used in large and complex projects with many moving
parts. Although it may seem like quite a bit of work to complete, and it
can be, it prevents many of the issues that can occur from miscommuni-
cations or a team member misunderstanding what the task is or how it
fits into the overall whole of the project. It is a way for a project team to
communicate completely what is needed to complete each task. A WBS
subdivides each deliverable into smaller manageable pieces for easier esti-
mation. A WBS dictionary takes each piece and defines for the task:
A unique identifier for each individual task (usually an outline
number of the tasks. For instance, if it is the second task to de-
liver the third deliverable, the number may be 3.2)
Customer Focus Starts with Great Requirements 93
94 Project Management That Works
Its name
A complete description
Its predecessors and successors
What the end result should be
The functional requirement it fulfills
The technical requirement of completing the task
Who owns it or should complete it
As teams become geographically and culturally more dispersed,
greater communication is necessary. A WBS dictionary facilitates the
required communication and makes sure that each team member un-
derstands the intent of the task. This step also allows team members to
be interchangeable as necessary. When it is time for a task to begin, the
PM can send the WBS dictionary to each team member and they should
be able to work on it immediately. This step also reinforces the entire
chapter. When filling out a WBS dictionary, the PM and team member
are faced with describing how the task fits the requirements. The re-
quirements have to fit the scope of the project. This exercise assists in
validating requirements and ensuring that the work being done can be
tied directly to the scope of the project.
As we discussed in Chapter 5, however, the team members must
understand what
means. PMs often forget that the end result of
the task is also part of the requirements. A great way to ensure the un-
derstanding of the task is to ask the team members to describe what the
end result will be. This type of confirmation allows everyone to come to
the same understanding. Do not accept “yes” or “okay” to confirm the
team members’ understanding.

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