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Mastering the Requirements Process, 2nd Edition

Mastering the Requirements Process, 2nd Edition


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  • Copyright 2006
  • Edition: 2nd
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-41949-9
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-41949-1
  • eBook (Watermarked)
  • ISBN-10: 0-321-46797-3
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-321-46797-3

"If the purpose is to create one of the best books on requirements yet written, the authors have succeeded."

—Capers Jones

It is widely recognized that incorrect requirements account for up to 60 percent of errors in software products, and yet the majority of software development organizations do not have a formal requirements process. Many organizations appear willing to spend huge amounts on fixing and altering poorly specified software, but seem unwilling to invest a much smaller amount to get the requirements right in the first place.

Mastering the Requirements Process, Second Edition, sets out an industry-proven process for gathering and verifying requirements with an eye toward today's agile development environments. In this total update of the bestselling guide, the authors show how to discover precisely what the customer wants and needs while doing the minimum requirements work according to the project's level of agility.

Features include

  • The Volere requirements process—completely specified, and revised for compatibility with agile environments
  • A specification template that can be used as the basis for your own requirements specifications
  • New agility ratings that help you funnel your efforts into only the requirements work needed for your particular development environment and project
  • How to make requirements testable using fit criteria
  • Iterative requirements gathering leading to faster delivery to the client
  • Checklists to help identify stakeholders, users, nonfunctional requirements, and more
  • Details on gathering and implementing requirements for iterative releases
  • An expanded project sociology section for help with identifying and communicating with stakeholders
  • Strategies for exploiting use cases to determine the best product to build
  • Methods for reusing requirements and requirements patterns
  • Examples showing how the techniques and templates are applied in real-world situations

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition xxi

Foreword to the First Edition xxiii

Acknowledgments xxiv

Chapter 1 What Are Requirements? 1

Requirements Gathering and Systems Modeling 3

Agile Software Development 4

Why Do I Need Requirements? 8

What Is a Requirement? 9

Evolution of Requirements 11

The Template 11

The Shell 14

The Volere Requirements Process 15

Chapter 2 The Requirements Process 17

Agility Guide 19

Requirements Process in Context 20

The Process 21

A Case Study 21

Trawling for Requirements 24

Prototyping the Requirements 25

Scenarios 25

Writing the Requirements 26

The Quality Gateway 28

Reusing Requirements 29

Reviewing the Specification 29

Iterative and Incremental Processes 30

Requirements Retrospective 31

Your Own Requirements Process 31

In Conclusion 33

Chapter 3 Project Blastoff 35

Agility Guide 38

IceBreaker 38

Scope, Stakeholders, Goals 40

Setting the Scope 40

Stakeholders 45

Other Stakeholders 51

Finding the Stakeholders 54

Goals: What Do You Want to Achieve? 55

Requirements Constraints 60

Naming Conventions and Definitions 61

How Much Is This Going to Cost? 62

Risks 63

To Go or Not to Go 64

Blastoff Alternatives 65

Summary 65

Chapter 4 Event-Driven Use Cases 67

Agility Guide 67

Understanding the Work 67

Use Cases and Their Scope 69

The Work 70

The Context of the Work 70

Business Events 73

Why Business Events and Business Use Cases Are a Good Idea 75

Finding the Business Events 76

Business Use Cases 78

The Role of Adjacent Systems 79

Business Use Cases and Product Use Cases 86

Summary 90

Chapter 5 Trawling for Requirements 93

Agility Guide 93

Responsibility 94

Trawling and Business Use Cases 96

The Role of the Current Situation 98

Apprenticing 101

Observing Structures and Patterns 103

Interviewing the Stakeholders 104

Getting to the Essence of the Work 107

Solving the Right Problem 109

Innovative Products 110

Business Use Case Workshops 113

Creativity Workshops 116

Brainstorming 117

Personas 119

Mind Maps 122

Wallpaper 124

Video and Photographs 124

Wikis, Blogs, and Discussion Forums 125

Document Archeology 126

Some Other Requirements-Gathering Techniques 128

Determining What the Product Should Be 129

Does Technology Matter? 131

Choosing the Best Trawling Technique 132

Summary 134

Chapter 6 Scenarios and Requirements 135

Agility Guide 135

Scenarios 136

Normal Case Scenarios 140

Diagramming the Scenario 142

Alternative Cases 144

Exception Cases 145

What If? Scenarios 146

Misuse Cases and Negative Scenarios 147

Scenario Template 148

Product Use Case Scenarios 150

Summary 152

Chapter 7 Functional Requirements 155

Agility Guide 155

Functional Requirements 157

Finding the Functional Requirements 157

Level of Detail or Granularity 160

Exceptions and Alternatives 161

Avoiding Ambiguity 162

Technological Requirements 164

Requirements, Not Solutions 165

Grouping Requirements 166

Alternatives to Functional Requirements 167

Summary 169

Chapter 8 Nonfunctional Requirements 171

Agility Guide 172

Nonfunctional Requirements 173

Use Cases and Nonfunctional Requirements 174

The Nonfunctional Requirements 174

Look and Feel Requirements: Type 10 176

Usability and Humanity Requirements: Type 11 178

Performance Requirements: Type 12 182

Operational and Environmental Requirements: Type 13 184

Maintainability and Support Requirements: Type 14 186

Security Requirements: Type 15 187

Cultural and Political Requirements: Type 16 190

Legal Requirements: Type 17 192

Finding the Nonfunctional Requirements 195

Don't Write a Solution 199

Summary 201

Chapter 9 Fit Criteria 203

Agility Guide 203

Why Does Fit Need a Criterion? 204

Scale of Measurement 206

Rationale 206

Fit Criteria for Nonfunctional Requirements 208

Fit Criteria for Functional Requirements 217

Use Cases and Fit Criteria 218

Fit Criterion for Project Purpose 219

Fit Criteria for Solution Constraints 219

Summary 220

Chapter 10 Writing the Requirements 223

Agility Guide 223

Turning Potential Requirements into Written Requirements 225

Knowledge Versus Specification 225

The Volere Requirements Specification Template 227

1 The Purpose of the Project 229

2 The Client, the Customer, and Other Stakeholders 232

3 Users of the Product 233

4 Mandated Constraints 234

5 Naming Conventions and Definitions 237

6 Relevant Facts and Assumptions 238

7 The Scope of the Work 240

8 The Scope of the Product 241

The Shell 241

The Atomic Requirement 243

Writing the Specification 248

9 Functional Requirements 249

Nonfunctional Requirements 251

Project Issues 252

18 Open Issues 252

19 Off-the-Shelf Solutions 253

20 New Problems 254

21 Tasks 254

22 Migration to the New Product 254

23 Risks 254

24 Costs 255

25 User Documentation and Training 256

26 Waiting Room 256

27 Ideas for Solutions 257

Summary 257

Chapter 11 The Quality Gateway 259

Agility Guide 260

Requirements Quality 261

Using the Quality Gateway 262

Testing Completeness 263

Testing Traceability 265

Consistent Terminology 267

Relevant to Purpose? 268

Testing the Fit Criterion 270

Viable within Constraints? 272

Requirement or Solution? 273

Customer Value 274

Gold Plating 275

Requirements Creep 276

Implementing the Quality Gateway 279

Summary 281

Chapter 12 Prototyping the Requirements 283

Agility Guide 285

Prototypes and Reality 286

Low-Fidelity Prototypes 288

High-Fidelity Prototypes 292

Storyboards 294

Object Life History 296

The Prototyping Loop 297

Summary 301

Chapter 13 Reusing Requirements 303

What Is Reusing Requirements? 303

Sources of Reusable Requirements 306

Requirements Patterns 307

A Business Event Pattern 309

Forming Patterns by Abstracting 313

Domain Analysis 317

Trends in Reuse 318

Reuse and Objects 318

Summary 319

Chapter 14 Reviewing the Specification 321

Agility Guide 322

Reviewing the Specification 323

Inspections 323

Find Missing Requirements 324

Have All Business Use Cases Been Discovered? 325

Define the Scope 326

Customer Value 332

Prioritizing the Requirements 333

Conflicting Requirements 337

Ambiguous Specifications 339

Risk Analysis 340

Measure the Required Effort 342

Summary 342

Chapter 15 Whither Requirements? 345

Adapting the Process 345

What About Requirements Tools? 347

Mapping Tools to Purpose 348

Publishing the Requirements 350

Requirements Traceability 353

Dealing with Change 357

Requirements Retrospective 360

Your Notebook 363

The End 363

Appendix A Volere Requirements Process Model 365Appendix B Volere Requirements Specification Template 451Appendix C Function Point Counting: A Simplified Introduction 507Appendix D Project Sociology Analysis Templates 523Glossary 531Bibliography 535Index 539


Untitled Document In the six years since we published the first edition of this book, the world's knowledge of requirements has grown, and more people have a job called "business analyst," "requirements engineer," or something similar. The Volere Requirements Specification Template has been downloaded countless times. The Volere Requirements Process is in use by thousands of people who are engaged in the activity of successful requirements gathering. They, in turn, have given us feedback over the years about what they needed to know, and what they are doing when gathering requirements.

This book is a reflection of the feedback we have received, and of the way people have made use of the first edition.

The requirements activity has moved away from wanting to be seen as an engineering discipline, to the realization that it is a sociotechnical activity. Requirements analysts now see their role first as one of communication, and second as a technician adding rigor and precision to the results of the human communication.

As a result, we have updated and expanded the project sociology analysis section of the book. In a similar vein, we have added the appropriate rigor to the technicalities of recording and measuring the requirements.
Perhaps the greatest change to come along since the first edition has been the arrival of agile methods, accompanied by some wonderful technological advances. Agile methods have influenced the way people develop software, with the result being that greater emphasis is placed on close customer relationships, and less emphasis is placed on documentation. We heartily applaud this advance. However, we have also seen too many people, who, in the name of agility, rush to a solution without first understanding the real business problem to be solved.

This, then, is the role of requirements in the agile world: to ensure that we hear not only one customer's voice, but also the voices of the other stakeholders—those with some value to add to the requirements for the product. Agile requirements analysts ensure that the work is considered, not just the product, and that the nonfunctional requirements are studied, not left to the whim of the programmer.

Agile methods have brought with them a healthy disdain for documentation. We agree with this view. Throughout this second edition we urge you to consider the benefit before committing anything to writing. But while we suggest sometimes you can develop software successfully without formally written requirements, we never suggest you can do it without understanding the requirements.

The emphasis on iterative development means that the requirements "phase" is no longer completed before building begins. The drive toward short, sharp release cycles means requirements analysts get feedback on their requirements efforts more quickly. Stakeholders receive positive reinforcement when they see the time they invest in requirements paid back with progressive versions of working software that does what they expect, and what they need.

Technological advances have changed requirements gathering. Blogs and wikis mean that requirements analysts can gather their requirements informally and iteratively using the convenience of networking with their stakeholders. Desktop videoconferencing and instant messaging mean closer, quicker communication with stakeholders, which is, of course, necessary for good requirements gathering.

The gap between what we wrote in 1999 and what we found ourselves doing when gathering requirements gradually grew wider, until we knew it was time to update our book. The volume that you hold in your hands is the result of the last few years of our work and teaching. We trust you find it interesting, enlightening, and useful.


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