Ambiguity in requirements can often lead to confusion and inefficiencies. To handle this effectively, one must first seek to clarify the requirements early and often. But how does one do that? While there are a variety of approaches, and potentially many correct answers to that question, one that has yet to fail me in practice is shared below.

Much like a young child repeatedly and tirelessly asking "why" something is, the person or group in charge of requirement refinement must ensure that stakeholders are frequently exposed to and engaged in dialogue to extract as much detail as possible. At the end of the day, this cohort (if carefully and correctly identified) can provide the majority of the details we seek. There are many tools that can help us organize this engagement, out of which stakeholder interviews are in my experience by far the most common one. However, interviewing, and specifically, good follow up or probing questions are many times seen as a skill of art. As such, they will likely be covered in a future blog post. To keep this one short and generic, let us imagine that we have effectively used any of those tools to clarify the requirements. :)

Once the requirements are clear, and all parties have a shared understanding (remember, there should be one and only one interpretation per requirement, regardless of who reads them) they shall be documented and communicated. This is an opportunity for near misses to be amended.

It's also crucial to prioritize requirements based on their impact and feasibility. This helps in managing resources efficiently and delivering value incrementally.

Lastly, unlike a relentless child, maintain flexibility. Projects evolve, and so do their requirements. Being adaptable allows for adjustments along the way, ensuring that the project remains aligned with its objectives and the needs of the many.

Remember, clear communication, persistence, documentation, prioritization, and flexibility are key to managing ambiguous requirements.