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Rapid JAD Requirements Software Development

Start with the End in Mind

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finish-2When developing systems and software, how do you know when you’re done?

Here are some proven failing methods:

  1. When time is up
  2. When the budget is exhausted
  3. When a sponsor or client demands the product
  4. When the project is cancelled or suspended

These are arbitrary, and sometimes brutal, measures, none of which necessarily correlates with either a complete or quality product.

Agile, test-driven development focuses on building to a testable goal, and then rapidly fixing what’s needed until all tests pass.

The business/requirements analyst can play a key role in helping to develop acceptance criteria, working with:

  • the product owner (What really meets the need of the customer?)
  • the developers (What exactly am I building, and how will I know that my code implements the desired features?)
  • and the testing/quality assurance lead (How can I test to demonstrate required functionality?)

With a focus on the end in mind, the business analyst can insert this bit of magic:

  • “This requirement is fulfilled when it is demonstrated that…”

This “definition of done” comes before the product owner signs off on the requirement, and the requirement is not fully written without this statement.

So, as you are implementing Rapid JAD processes, remember, you are not done unless you have started with the end in mind.

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Software Development

Tee Up! How Building Software is Like Playing Golf

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Golf Course

The Course Layout

We have a course laid out and we are moving along the course. Not all courses are the same, but they have the same basic structure and flow as we play:

  • Tee off on hole 1
  • Move along the fairway
  • Hit onto the green
  • Sink the putt
  • Move on to the next hole and repeat

The golf course structure aids us by its layout and keeps us moving along in the proper direction doing things sequentially. Similarly software development methodologies have a structure which keeps development moving in the proper direction with a repeating sequence.

Playing the Par 4 Hole

For a par 4 hole, the plan prior to tee off is to drive onto the fairway. Put the second shot on the green. One putt for birdie.

However, things do not always go according to plan. We may hook or slice a shot, hit the rough, a sand trap, land in the water, and even a hit out of bounds is possible.

This is when the golf course structure pays off in that you can be moving along the fairway toward the green even though you are not necessarily in the fairway. There are rules to follow, you have the direction to head, and you know the goal.

Similarly as a golf course is broken into 18 holes, software development is broken into pieces, often referred to as an iteration. And while you have a plan at the start of each iteration things do not always go according to plan. However, with the structure of your chosen software  development methodology in place you know the direction to head, have rules to follow, and you know the goal of the iteration.

Summary

For many finishing with a 72 after 18 holes is the goal, but one which is not often reached. Still, you have a goal before the game starts and from experience you realize that many things can come up as you play.

Software development is similar, in that you can plan out everything you want to do for the entire 18 holes before you step up to tee off on hole one, but there are many things that happen along the way to finishing.

Understand that golf is like software development. It is likely not going to go as planned prior to tee off. Do not get shaken when you hit a sand trap or other obstacle. Pull the right club and play on.

With a good software development methodology in place you will recover when things do not go as planned. Expect things can happen up front and smile big when things go as planned!

Scramble anyone?

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Document Management Rapid JAD

Getting It Right

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by Erik Jul

When specifying requirements for a new system, large or small, how much do we have to get right?

Isn’t “All of it” the right answer?

Not always, and maybe never.

Concepts such as “minimally viable product” (which carries the moniker MVP as if it were some sort of champion), “iterative solution scoping,” and “progressive elaboration” decry the notion of completeness and possibly even that of correctness.

Of course, no one wants to deliver, or attempt to use, a system that does not work or is ill-suited to the task. So “getting it right” must matter to some degree: the system must work as specified.

But how much of what the user needs or wants has been identified and correctly specified in functional and other requirements? And of that, how much was correctly implemented?

Relying upon a Six Sigma approach (a methodology driving toward six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) may reduce defects, but may still fall short of identifying a customer’s true problem and its best solution.

Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Agile, and the Three Amigos Scrum Alliance. These, plus approaches already forgotten or yet to be proposed, try to help us “get it right.”

In successive waves of innovation and reinvention, practitioners attempt to narrow the gap between what’s needed, what’s specified, what’s delivered, and what solves the customer’s problem.

Along that path, from problem to solution (scope, time, and cost notwithstanding), the professional solutions team—sponsor, business owner, project manager, business analyst, QA /tester, solution architect, developer, trainer, change management lead—all focus on “getting it right.”

Common software development and project management practices such as change requests, expectation management, phased releases, bug fixes, cumulative updates, and new versions testify that “getting it right” remains a noble goal seldom reached and maybe never reasonably expected.  For now, these are our best tools for getting it right, eventually.

To increase the likelihood of getting more right now rather than eventually, try these Rapid JAD principles: Capture Now, Document Once, Visible to All, and Revise Quickly.

Simple. Proven. Effective.

How much do you want to get right?

 

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