Lights, Camera, Disaster! High Level Requirements Gathering

Requirements. It’s a word familiar to project managers everywhere. It should also be a word familiar to producers.

A good corporate video hits the viewer on an emotional level…but it’s very important the emotions the video plucks are those the sponsor wants to reach. Have a watch of Liam Lynch’s video, Wilkinson’s Family Restaurant, below. It’s a bit old now (2007), but I still laugh whenever I watch it. The problem it presents is very real. How do you ensure the creative elements of your corporate video match the story you want to tell?


Wilkinson’s Family Restaurant
Video courtesy of tracydanger on YouTube.

At the onset of your video project, develop some high level guidelines to which the finished product needs to conform. It may help to hold a brainstorming session with the sponsor, the director, and a few subject matter experts (or invite them to participate in a wiki). Don’t forget to include marketing or branding, if your company cares about such things. The purpose of the session is to drive out any high level requirements that surround the script for your video project.

Start by brainstorming out the questions you need to ask, and then worry about the answers. Video provides a tremendous amount of possibilities, so you may want to revisit this session multiple times before your director lifts a camera.

For example, the branding department may have rules about how the company or company spokespeople need to appear. Your company may have diversity policies, so you may want to set rules about having a good smattering of different ethnicities in the video (as opposed to all white men). Perhaps you have guidelines about how minorities appear (i.e., no stereotypes).

Will your video allow for sponsorships to help fund the project? Or is it important this video remain a private venture?

Is this video going to be part of a series if the first one is successful? Or is this project a one-off?

Asking questions like this may also help you identify additional work you want to do. If this video is going to be part of a series (or you want the flexibility to have a series if the video is successful), perhaps you want to add some work to the plan to develop a set graphic treatment that you could apply to future videos. If you do want to do future videos, keep track of the decisions you make here, because you may find you build on the guidelines with each new video you produce.

Spending some time early in the project to drive out these requirements will help give the director some guidelines to follow when developing the script breakdown. The last thing you want is to find yourself like Mr. Wilkinson, stuck with a bill for a product you hate!

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I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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