Requirements Definition

In the world of software and applications development, requirements definition is the most critical phase. Why?

  • it is where business and technical needs meet;
  • it is where needs and wants are sorted out
  • it is where a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the business need and the software needs are done;
  • it is where users and software developers agree on something, which is both win-win for both parties.

Incorrect, inaccurate, or excessive definition of requirements must necessarily result in schedule delays, wasted resources, or customer dissatisfaction.

The requirements analysis should begin with business or organizational requirements and translate those into project requirements. If meeting stated requirements will be unreasonably costly, or take too long, the project requirements may have to be negotiated down, down-scoped or down-sized, in discussions with customers or sponsors.

Any discussion of requirements analysis methods will quickly become specific to the type of project effort. Many industry areas have specific, proven techniques for obtaining thorough and accurate definition of requirements. Sometimes it is useful to write a draft users manual as a way to define requirements. While the methods may differ, the principles remain the same across all types and sizes of projects. The requirements analysis should cover the whole scope of the project. It must be comprehensive and thorough. It must consider the views and needs of all the project stakeholders.

It is easy to leave scope out of a requirements analysis or to omit necessary clarity or detail thereby making the requirements definition ambiguous. The completed requirements analysis should be reviewed and approved by the customer or project sponsor before work continues. On large projects, the first formal design review is actually called a requirements review.

After everything has been detailed out and discussed with the users, the requirements review should be signed-off by the users, which will be the basis of a systems analysis and design process, which will be used by the software developers on the database design, screen design, programming, reports design and other modules that are to be developed.

 

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