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This chapter is from the book

Your Own Requirements Process

The itinerant peddler of quack potions, Doctor Dulcamara, sings the praises of his elixir—it is guaranteed to cure toothache, make you potent, eliminate wrinkles and give you smooth beautiful skin, destroy mice and bugs, and make the object of your affections fall in love with you. This rather fanciful libretto from Donizetti’s opera L’elisir d’amore points out something that, although very obvious, is often disregarded: There is no such thing as the universal cure.

We really would like to be able to present you with a requirements process that has all the attributes of Doctor Dulcamara’s elixir—a process that suits all projects for all applications in all organizations. We can’t. We know from experience that every project has different needs. However, we also know that some fundamental principles hold good for any project. So instead of attempting to provide you with a one-size-fits-all magic potion, we have distilled our experiences from a wide variety of projects to provide you with a set of foundation activities and deliverables that apply to any project.

The process described in this book is made up of the things you have to do to successfully discover the requirements. Likewise, the deliverables presented here are the foundation for any kind of requirements activity. Our intention is not to say that there is only one true path to requirements Nirvana, but rather to give you the components you need for successful requirements projects.

As you read this book, think about how you can use these components within the constraints of your own culture, your own environment, your own organizational structure, and your own chosen way of product development.

To adapt this process, you should understand the deliverables it produces—the rest of this book will discuss these items in detail. Once you understand the content and purpose of each deliverable, ask how each one (provided it is relevant) would best be produced within your project environment using your resources:

  • What is the deliverable called within your environment? Use the definitions of the terms used in the generic process model and identify the equivalent deliverable in your organization.
  • Is this deliverable relevant for this project?
  • How much do you already know about this deliverable? Do you know enough to be able to avoid devoting additional time to it?
  • Who produces the deliverable? Understand which parts of the deliverable are produced by whom. Also, when several people are involved, you need to define the interfaces between them.
  • When is the deliverable produced? Map your project phases to the generic process.
  • Where is the deliverable produced? A generic deliverable is often the result of fragments that are produced in a number of geographical locations. Define the interfaces between the different locations and specify how they will work.
  • Who needs to review the deliverable? Look for existing cultural checkpoints within your organization. Do you have recognized stages or phases in your projects at which peers, users, or managers must review your specification?

The generic model describes deliverables and procedures for producing them; our intention is that you decide how you use them.

We also point you to Chapter 9 of this book, entitled Strategies for Today’s Business Analyst. This chapter considers how you might approach your requirements projects. We suggest that before you become too involved in the mechanics of requirements discovery, you think about the strategy that is most suitable for you.

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