Accurate and complete requirements are the most important elements to get right within a project’s lifecycle. They ensure products meet customer and business expectations while enabling development teams to work smarter, not harder.
||Software Requirements Challenges
Getting requirements right is the most critical aspect of the software development cycle. Yet most companies come up short; studies point to a failure rate of more than 60% for IT projects, with poor requirements as one of the top five reasons. Moreover, when requirements are specified early in the lifecycle, 80% of the functionality is relatively unwanted by the users and 45% of these features are never used. These problems mean costly rework, compromised product quality, delayed delivery on current projects and start of new ones, lost credibility and lowered revenue opportunities.
Any small misstep in the requirements phase can be amplified to a major flaw by the time deployment is in progress. The cost of these problems quickly adds up; it can be up to 110% more expensive to fix requirements when the product is in the hands of the customer. Spending time on requirements is not just good technical practice, it makes sound business sense, as well.
Typical requirements challenges include:
- Inadequate or incomplete requirements that don’t clearly meet the needs of the users
- Vague and ambiguous requirements that lead to project rework, scope creep and analysis paralysis
- Underestimating the value of spending time on requirements; providing only a small window to do the work
- Requirements that don’t take into account and prioritize business needs and resource constraints
- Struggling with what are requirements and who does them
- Banking on requirements tools that don’t help or trying to determine what requirements activities should be automated
- Adopting requirements practices to work effectively with Agile projects
By recognizing the potential impact of these requirements' risks, steps can be taken to turn them into strengths. Instead of requirements being the source of problems, a disciplined software requirements process can help to assure the success of your software projects. Development organizations should look at requirements as an opportunity to work smarter instead of harder, creating better products and more satisfied customers…and with SPC, you can!
||how good are your Requirements?
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||Getting Better at Requirements
Developing and managing effective requirements practices create significant benefits:
- Increased speed and efficiency in delivering high value products
- Greater insights into development capacity and capabilities
- Deeper understanding of customer and business needs
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Closer alignment with business goals and expectations
- Stronger team morale and personal satisfaction
SPC is a leading provider of technology and management services to Fortune 1000 and medium-sized enterprises wanting to realize the full business potential of their software development process.
SPC has worked extensively with recognized requirements experts such as Steve Adolph and Karl Wiegers. Since 2000, SPC’s skills development division, SPC Springboard, has been delivering Wieger’s In Search of Excellent Requirements seminars, based on his best-selling and award winning book from Microsoft Press, Software Requirements. Also, since 2002, SPC has been delivering one of the most practical and effective seminars introducing the Use Case method, based on the work of Steve Adolph, co-author of Patterns for Effective Use Cases.
SPC’s consultants and experts focus on enabling our clients to create lasting improvements in their requirements approach. Since 1992, we’ve worked with more than 1,000 clients across the globe, including companies such as Express Scripts Inc., ESI Canada, Business Objects, Kodak Graphic Communications Canada Company, KeyBank, State Farm Insurance, American Student Association (ASA), DaimlerChrysler Services North America LLC, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), Custom House and Borland Corporation to positively impact their development organization.
Our approach to software requirements is designed to enable you to work smarter, not harder. Collaborating with SPC means your projects have the best opportunity to meet schedule, cost, and product objectives.
||Top Tips for Requirements
Solving the software requirements development and management challenge in a sensible, straightforward manner is the mark of the SPC approach. Instead of a “one-size-fits-all” design that most consulting firms utilize, our consulting, coaching and executive support services work in context with our clients’ culture and experience.
Most importantly, we carefully analyze the most pressing needs that need to be answered to ensure a high value, high impact experience.
- Know when the project will be done
Make verifying the requirements as correct the final stage of testing. It’s much easier to satisfy customer expectations when you can show that their requirements have been successfully incorporated into the product.
- Recognize that analysts need to understand the requirements not just gather or capture them - plan for there to be sufficient time
Ensuring there is adequate time to fully grasp the needs of the customer will pay significant downstream benefits. If you just build what the customer tells you first, likely the end product will be wrong and rework required. A disciplined approach will ensure the time devoted to requirements is utilized correctly.
- Prioritize to build first those high-value requirements you know are correct
Requirements development and management should be based on iterative discussions that prioritize those well understood requirements that are for delivery now. This encourages an up-front effort based on solid knowledge, early feedback and using a “good enough” attitude towards the process.
- Keep on asking the ‘W” questions: “Who, When, Why, Where” to focus on flushing out the real requirements
Ambiguous requirements or minimal specifications raise the risk of building the wrong product. Ask the “W” questions upfront so developers don’t have to guess the true intention of the requirement.
- Leverage the Use Case method to find the right requirements
It’s easy to get carried away and define all kinds of requirements that seem to be useful, however industry studies show that as much as 80% of delivered software functionality is rarely used, if ever. The Use Case method gives you one of the best ways to focus the requirements on what users actually need in order to get their jobs done.
- Have a structured approach that will help you avoid missing the requirements you ought to have known about
If key requirements are overlooked, contain mistakes, are unclear or poorly defined, you can’t quickly correct the problem later on.
||is spc right for you
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