Recently I read a marketing requirements document (MRD) for a sophisticated new mission critical software product for enterprise customers.
Like most of these MRD's it was over 200 pages and it was full of technical information which seemed to be placed in the document to illustrate the vast knowledge of the writer, rather than to serve any purpose for the reader.
Most of it was blah, blah, blah to me. I think this is true of the other readers, but no one said anything for fear of reporting the obvious... that the document was of little value to helping the development team set the boundary conditions for a successful program.
Needless to say this document told me very little about some of the basics that are critical to understanding the project success criteria. What I wanted to know, but I could not find in 200+ pages, where answers to the following simple questions:
Who are the customers for the product?
What do the customer's want from the product?
What do they value?
When do they want the product?
How much will they pay for it?
And most importantly, what business problem would this new product solve for the target customers. Here is a simple check list of questionswe ask every team we work with (asked during initial assessment). This gets right at the core issues in less than five minutes of conversation. Think of how many trees this would save!