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Document Management Rapid JAD Requirements Software Development

Blow Your Mind Requirements For Results

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The Magic 6 is a black ball with the number 6 on it

Six components of a well-written requirement are so powerful that I call them magical. Missing any one of these six requirement attributes will cost your project.

Capture them up front to save money, time, help communication, and minimize frustration. Have you hired a company to gather requirements? They should provide these six.

Because I love practical examples and keeping it simple I will provide a short explanation with a real life example. This example comes from a centralized system that tracks issues for a company with multiple locations.  

1. A Unique ID

This is the first attribute of a good requirement. In addition to being unique, the identifier for each requirement should capture an area or grouping as well as a count. The grouping communicates the area within the entire project and provides context. For a system that tracks and communicates issues, a View Updates group was created. The unique identifier, uses an abbreviation and a numeric. For this group I used VU.01 for the first requirement in the group View Updates.

2. Identification of who needs the requirement

This is typically a group name, such as Customer. This communicates the group needing the feature, which provides use context as well as an idea of security level. This system has customers who need to view issues affecting their multiple locations.

3. Statement of what is required

A statement of what is required identifies the task to be accomplished or the action to be performed. For customers with multiple locations, “Search by location is needed for issues.” This communicates an action a customer needs to take.

4. Statement of why the requirement is needed

The market for a product as well as competitor products can be the impetus for rapidly changing a requirement. Communicating why something is required also provides information on when it may no longer be needed. For issue tracking, search by a specific location is needed so that the customer can see all issues affecting a location.

5. Acceptance Criteria

Ideally acceptance criteria is communicated by a business owner. This provides clear communication to the development team when the business will agree that work on a requirement is fulfilled. When a customer can search by a specific location and all results are displayed, this requirement is complete. For more information on this topic, see The End Goal – Removing Ambiguity in Requirement

6. Business Owner

This identifies the person who can answer questions regarding a specific requirement, Matt Murdock. All requirements should have a point of contact in the business. It can be months after a requirement has been captured and development questions arise. In addition to clarification, there may be impacts from other events that come along and you will need to get input the right person in the business. 

Blow Your Mind

If you are looking at a requirements document and the Business Analyst captured all six of these attributes, that should blow your mind. Take them to lunch and thank them, they are going to save your project time and money.

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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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Rapid JAD Requirements Software Development

How To Get More of What You Need Faster

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As a business analyst or system developer, do you want to get more of what you need– accurate, complete, testable requirements that meet the customer’s needs–faster?

Like any good business analyst, I often use graphical tools to explore an idea, discover logical relationships, simplify concepts, or present findings.

Consider the following:rapid-jad-2x2

This simple 2-by-2 chart plots speed and accuracy in determining functional requirements for software development.  Both are desirable goals.

It’s obvious: avoid quadrants 1-3.  Ever been there?  These are not happy places for any project.

Quadrant 4 is everyone’s goal.  Get more of what you need, faster. But how to get there? Reliably? Repeatedly? Quickly?

In my years of project experience I’ve come to rely on the four simple, actionable steps we call Rapid JAD (see quadrant 4, above).

How quickly you begin realizing benefits simply depends upon how quickly you adopt and begin practicing Rapid JAD.  Regardless of the size, complexity, duration, or project phase, start now.  Or, if you’ve already started using Rapid JAD (congratulations!), then seek opportunities to learn, reflect, improve your practice, or share with others.

You will get more of what you need, faster.  Guaranteed.

For an introduction or refresher:

Capture Now
Document Once
Visible to All
Revise Quickly

Start getting more of what you need, faster. Use the 2X2 chart, above, to plot your own success!

 

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Content Management Document Management Engagement Management Rapid JAD Time Management

Rapid JAD in Pictures

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by Erik Jul*

capture-now
Capture Now. No time is better, and certainly not later.

document-once
Document once. Don’t do the work multiple times. Whose got the time?

visible-to-all
Visible to all. Everyone has to see. Why? They might have more perfect knowledge, opinions, suggestions, have approval authority, or just need a sense of comfort.

revise-quickly
Revise quickly. With all best efforts, you might get close to a final, correct, and complete artifact. But don’t count on it. Just change it as quickly as possible.

Rapid JAD really is simple. Execution is the key: decide (it starts with you), implement (start somewhere, but just start), adjust (learn as you go), practice (build the Rapid JAD habit), multiply (share the revolution and bring others along with you).

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Requirements Software Development

The End Goal – Removing Ambiguity in Requirements

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Clarity

When you are done reading this post the importance of knowing the end goal will have been communicated:

• Definition of Done
• Acceptance Criteria
• What does success look like?
• What happens?
• What gets completed?
• What is the result?
• The end goal

These bullets all represent one concept. As a systems developer, I want to know up front what is expected of the system when I am done developing what was requested. What am I to deliver?

I can read what a requirement states, but do I understand what is to be accomplished by the requirement? What is the purpose? The goal? The reason this requirement lives?

This is a critical piece that is often missed when requirements for system development are captured. Without this piece it is difficult to measure success. Let’s look at an example.

User Story
As a Customer I want to follow “issues” of interest as a priority so that I can focus on important issues as a priority.

This User Story is clearly written. I can read it. I understand all of the words. Yet, this is still vague. How should this be developed? What is result? What happens? It would be nice to have an answer to these questions from the person who wrote this User Story. Something such as the Acceptance Criteria, which when met, the person who wrote the User Story could say, “Hey it is working. It did what I was wanting.”

Something such as the following takes only a minute to capture, but adds a wealth of clarity to the User Story

Acceptance Criteria
I can hit a “button” and that issue automatically goes to the top of my view queue.

Without the clarity of the end goal, the Acceptance Criteria, development could go in any number of directions. By adding Acceptance Criteria, to User Stories or Requirements, the desire of the person who wrote the user story is clarified and it provides a measurement for the completeness or success of the delivered product.

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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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Document Management

Do Requirements Matter?

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Software Requirements by The Requirement Company

Project Approval

You go to the company president requesting $500,000 for a project and they say, “Sure. No problem and please do not bother me with details such as why you need it.”

Blind approval as described above is not likely to happen. There may or may not be a formal cost benefit analysis completed. It is after a project is approved that more information about the project is detailed in the requirements.

Skip the Requirement Phase

What about skipping the requirements phase? Requirements can take a lot of time to put together, thus adding cost. Why not be Agile and get rid of this initial requirements phase of the project and jump right into coding. Shape the system as it is being developed. This will reduce time and cost.

Do Requirements Matter?

What is the purpose of requirements? There are two major reasons to have requirements:

  1. Define the business needs
  2. Identify what is to be built (A.K.A. project scope)

Can someone just start coding the new system when the business need has not been defined?  How will they know what is to be built? If the project is small, then yes they can. Someone from the business can verbally communicate what needs built and a developer can build it. How does this work on a large project?

The larger the project, the more difficult and more risk the project will take on when skipping the initial requirements phase. A project might achieve savings early on by skipping the requirements phase, but that savings is now going to be spent in excess of the early savings, due to loss of potential revenue and developing features which were missed or need changed.

How Much Do Requirements Matter

According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report

  • The #2 most cited reason projects fail is due to poor requirements management
  • Inaccurate requirements gathering remained a primary cause of project failure (37 percent) in 2014
  • For projects which do not fail, 4% of project budget is wasted due to poor requirements

According to IAG ‘s 2009 Business Analysis Benchmark Report

  • 74 percent of companies reported having a low level of requirements management maturity
  • These companies achieved their business objectives 54 percent of the time, while taking 35 percent longer to deliver their results.

If you are going Agile and thinking of going lite on requirements, perhaps the statistics above are worth noting. You may want to invest more time in quality requirements. For additional information on Requirements visit Requirements Engineering Magazine

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