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This chapter is from the book

What Do I Do Right Now?

A number of the project success indicators (see Chapter 1) are affected by requirements value:

  • No excessive schedule pressure
  • Correctly sized product
  • Product adds value to the organization

Determine the value your project adds to your organization and the value requirements add to your project. According to studies carried out by the Standish Group, about three-quarters of software projects deliver late or not at all. The main three reasons are lack of user input, incomplete requirements, and constantly changing requirements. These handicaps are eliminated, or significantly reduced, by a competent requirements process.

So long as your project is not trivial, you are going to invest in requirements. However, the adroit project manager takes into account the uniqueness of the project and the degree of fragmentation of information and people, then determines how much effort needs to be expended on requirements.

Estimate the effort needed by measuring the work area to be studied. We suggest function points as an effective way of doing this. From the size of the work area—or product if that is what you measured—determine the amount of requirements analysis needed. Capers Jones of Software Productivity Research puts the U.S. average cost of installing a function point at $1,000. Requirements activities should consume between 30 and 50% of that cost. We discuss function point counting in Chapter 8.

Adjust this number by the nature of the project—infrastructure, strategic, large, small, and so on—to determine whether your requirements activity is going all out to produce an absolutely complete requirements description of the product, or whether the risks involved in doing less than the maximum can be tolerated.

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