Home > Articles > Software Development & Management

Mastering the Requirements Process

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter provides an overview of the Volere Requirements Process and its associated specification template, introducing many of the topics that are covered more thoroughly in the rest of the book.
This chapter is from the book

in which we look at a process for gathering requirements and discuss how you might use it

The requirements process described in this book is the product of our experience. We developed the Volere Requirements Process and its associated specification template from the activities and deliverables we have found effective over years of working on projects and consulting with our clients. The result of this experience is a requirements-gathering and specification process whose principles can be applied to almost all kinds of application types in almost all kinds of development environments.

We want to stress from the very beginning that while we are presenting a process, we are using it as a vehicle for finding requirements. That is, we do not expect you to wave the process around and tell your coworkers that this is "the way to do it." We do expect you will find many useful things to do within the process that will help you to gather requirements more productively and accurately. We are sure of this fact, because we have personally seen hundreds of companies adapt the process to their own cultures and organizations, and we know of thousands more that have done so.

A requirements process is not just for waterfall development. Our clients use XP, RUP, and many other acronyms, as well as traditional waterfall, incremental, and all flavors of agile development processes. Over the years they have agreed with us: If the right product is to be built, then the right requirements have to be discovered. But requirements don't come about by fortuitous accident. To find the correct and complete requirements, you need some kind of systematic process.

The Volere Requirements Process Model in appendix A contains a detailed model of all of the activities and the connections between them. The model is very detailed. Rather than getting involved in that kind of detail and complexity right away, let's stand back and take a simpler view of the overall process. This simplified view is shown in Figure 2.1.

This simplified version of the process model will reappear at various places throughout this book. For the most part, the simplified version is faithful enough to the complete version in appendix A. Sometimes, for the sake of making an explanation simpler or clearer, we will make minor changes to the model or show only part of it. Please be aware of this and use the detailed model for any of your important implementation decisions.

Figure 2.1 shows all of the main activities in the Volere Requirements Process, including how they are linked by their deliverables. The deliverables are shown as moving from one activity to the next. For example, the Trawling for Requirements activity would probably gather the requirements for one business use case at a time. The requirements would be written to demonstrate that they have been correctly understood and agreed, and then passed to the Quality Gateway for testing prior to being included in the Requirements Specification. Any rejects would be sent back to the originator, who probably would take them back to the trawling activity for clarification and further explanation. Don't take this apparent waterfall approach too literally—the activities usually iterate and overlap before producing their final output. As we go through this process in detail, we will explain where and how iteration and incremental delivery can be used.

Agility Guide

When referring to development processes, agility is normally taken to mean the absence of a set process that must be followed regardless of the product being developed. However, it does not mean the absence of all process. Agile development means selecting the appropriate process, or parts of a process, that are appropriate for the product and the project.

Not all projects can be as agile as others. Large numbers of stakeholders, the need for documentation, scattered development teams, and other factors will inevitably dictate the degree of agility that can be applied by the project team. As a consequence, you must determine the degree of agility appropriate to your current project. In Chapter 1, we introduced symbols to represent your aspirations for agility. These symbols are intended to guide you as you select the most appropriate way to use the information in this book.

Rabbit projects are those where circumstances allow for the highest degree of agility. They are typically, but not necessarily, smaller projects where close stakeholder participation is possible. Rabbit projects usually include a smaller number of stakeholders.

Participants in rabbit projects may think it odd to consider using any kind of process at all for requirements. However, as you look at the process in this chapter, think not of a process that delivers a requirements specification, but rather of a process that delivers a requirement, or at least requirements, one use case at a time. If you are using eXtreme Programming (most likely with rabbit projects), the fastest way to learn your customer's and (importantly) his organization's requirements is not at the keyboard but at the whiteboard. Pay particular attention to the part that prototyping and scenarios play in the process and to the idea of essence of the system. It is crucial that you understand the difference between a requirement and a solution.

Rabbit projects are iterative. They gather requirements in small units (probably one business use case at a time) and then implement the solution piecemeal, using the implementation to get feedback from the stakeholders. However, we stress that this feedback should not be used to find out what the stakeholders wanted in the first place. That is the role of requirements, and it is far more effective and efficient if done using requirements methods. Read on.

Horse projects are the "halfway house" of agility. They use as much agility as possible, but have constraints imposed by the project and the organization. Horse projects should use most of the process we are about to describe, keeping in mind that you could easily use an iterative approach to requirements gathering. That is, the requirements for one unit of work—probably one business use case—are gathered and then the designers start work on those requirements. This strategy needs the overall architecture to be in place before it can work. The advantage is that while the requirements analysts are gathering the requirements for one business use case, the developers are busy building a solution for the requirements from the previous business use case.

The sections on trawling, writing, and the Quality Gateway will be of great interest to horse projects. If these activities are done correctly and iteratively, your project can achieve a considerable effectiveness without becoming bogged down in its own process.

Elephant projects are the least agile, but—like their namesake—are large, are dependable, and have long memories. In such a case, your aspirations toward agility may be limited by the organization of the project—for example, you may have a large number of scattered stakeholders—or the need to produce formal requirements documentation such as for pharmaceutical or aeronautical projects, projects that entail some contractual obligation, or projects where you are outsourcing some tasks to another organization.

Most of the elements of the requirements process outlined in this chapter are used by elephant projects. But always be on the lookout for opportunities in your project to increase your agility by gathering requirements in an iterative manner.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020