How to review software requirements
Make the world a better place.  Send this to project stakeholders who need to read requirements.
Part 1 Your role
You are a ‘stakeholder’ to a project
But what is a stakeholder?
It simply means you have a ‘stake’ in what the project is trying to deliver.
The project might make your life easier
or harder
or make little or no difference.
Either way
you are a
stakeholder
and you have to
read
and understand
and  agree  to
A set of ‘requirements’
because your signature
means you understand
what has been written down
and that your particular needs
and priorities
have been included
sufficiently.
Part 2 What are  requirements  and  why do we have them?
Requirements are a sort of contract
between you
and the project team.
You negotiate for what you need to be included.
They write it down.
You sign it.
It’s a contract.
At the end of the project
you can call them
on what they failed to deliver.
And they can point out
that they delivered to specifications.
It can be a bit of a problem.
I hope this presentation helps
make the problem smaller
or even disappear.
Requirements come in two main flavours.
Agile Traditional
They look something like this;
 
Requirements are the way we (project people)
articulate what you (business people)
…  want to see out of a new software product.
to see out of
Requirements are not
typically what we want
to see in  a software package.
to see in
You run a business unit.
You are not a software developer.
Don’t tell the software developer
that you want a particular feature
because
they’ll give it to you.
Instead…
tell them what outcome you want to achieve
and why it is important.
That way you’ll get
what you need.
Part 3 Reading requirements
(By the way, the secret to this is all in the preparation.)
Remember these?
 
Step 1
Put the document down.
Step 2
Grab a trusted colleague
and piece of paper
or some sticky notes
or a whiteboard
And write down your current KPIs
Now add the things you do that are  (a) important, and (b) not in your KPIs
<ul><li>KPIs that are reported on </li></ul><ul><li>Important things not in your KPIs </li></ul>KPI # 1 KPI # 2 KPI # 3 KP...
Step 3
Write down all the major problems you have with your business unit today
and attach them
to your list of KPIs and important things
KPI # 1 Staff retention KPI # 2 Quality KPI # 3 Financial KPI # 4 Accrued Leave Not KPI # 1 Happy Customers Not KPI # 2 Cl...
Step 4
Drop your problems into an important / urgent prioritisation grid
Important + Not urgent Not important + Not urgent Important  +  Urgent Not important +  Not urgent
Important + Not urgent Not important + Not urgent Important  +  Urgent Not important +  Not urgent Staying on Budget with ...
(Projects are expensive and complicated enough without loading up small-fry issues)
Only keep the important issues
Important + Not urgent Not important + Not urgent Important  +  Urgent Not important +  Not urgent Staying on Budget with ...
Step 5
Draw a circle
 
Write down a short description of the project’s goals in the circle
Solve world hunger
Now write your important problems and issues around the circle
Solve world hunger Staying on Budget with unexpected events Staff attrition too high Customer satisfaction heading south  ...
Link up the project’s goals with your problem areas
With a description of how the project should be helping
Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs Staying on Budget with unexpected events Staff attrition to...
Projects won’t connect with all your problems
Solve world hunger Staying on Budget Staff attrition Customer satisfaction  Quality of service Staff want to help Customer...
(That’s a good thing)
(Overly large projects are too complex and usually fail)
Step 6
Take your KPIs and other important responsibilities
&
take the links
between the project’s goals and your problems
and
Make them headings
Staff want to help Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs KPI # 1 KPI # 2 KPI # 3 KPI # 4 Not KPI ...
Give them a shorthand code
Staff want to help Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs KPI # 1 KPI # 2 KPI # 3 KPI # 4 Not KPI ...
Now you are ready
to read those requirements
and assess
how the project will affect you
and your business unit.
Let’s revisit those steps:
<ul><li>Put aside the requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on your key objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Identify your key prob...
Step 7
Read each requirement statement
At the end of each statement
Attach the code for each problem or goal you have
And then rate the requirement
on it’s ability to affect you
(good or bad)
When you complete the document you’ll have notes
On everything that is relevant to you
And you’ll also have
Lot’s of requirements statements
that have no relevance to you
Now you can focus
on what is important.
And you can see
how the project’s requirements
will affect you.
There is one last thing.
Step 8
Go back to your diagram
that links the project
to your goals and problems.
Solve world hunger Staff want to help Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs Staying on Budget wit...
Which one of these issues
have been left out of the document?
Do they matter?
If they do, it’s time to write up a list…
and send it to the project team.
I hope this is helpful.
We’d love your feedback. (comments below)
www.betterprojects.net
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How To Review Software Requirements

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A guide on how to review and give feedback to business requirements documents for software projects.

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  • Great cover photo by Zach_ManchesterUK CC @ Flickr (Thaks Zach!) http://www.flickr.com/photos/zach_manchester/2100975845/
  • How To Review Software Requirements

    1. 1. How to review software requirements
    2. 2. Make the world a better place. Send this to project stakeholders who need to read requirements.
    3. 3. Part 1 Your role
    4. 4. You are a ‘stakeholder’ to a project
    5. 5. But what is a stakeholder?
    6. 6. It simply means you have a ‘stake’ in what the project is trying to deliver.
    7. 7. The project might make your life easier
    8. 8. or harder
    9. 9. or make little or no difference.
    10. 10. Either way
    11. 11. you are a
    12. 12. stakeholder
    13. 13. and you have to
    14. 14. read
    15. 15. and understand
    16. 16. and agree to
    17. 17. A set of ‘requirements’
    18. 18. because your signature
    19. 19. means you understand
    20. 20. what has been written down
    21. 21. and that your particular needs
    22. 22. and priorities
    23. 23. have been included
    24. 24. sufficiently.
    25. 25. Part 2 What are requirements and why do we have them?
    26. 26. Requirements are a sort of contract
    27. 27. between you
    28. 28. and the project team.
    29. 29. You negotiate for what you need to be included.
    30. 30. They write it down.
    31. 31. You sign it.
    32. 32. It’s a contract.
    33. 33. At the end of the project
    34. 34. you can call them
    35. 35. on what they failed to deliver.
    36. 36. And they can point out
    37. 37. that they delivered to specifications.
    38. 38. It can be a bit of a problem.
    39. 39. I hope this presentation helps
    40. 40. make the problem smaller
    41. 41. or even disappear.
    42. 42. Requirements come in two main flavours.
    43. 43. Agile Traditional
    44. 44. They look something like this;
    45. 46. Requirements are the way we (project people)
    46. 47. articulate what you (business people)
    47. 48. … want to see out of a new software product.
    48. 49. to see out of
    49. 50. Requirements are not
    50. 51. typically what we want
    51. 52. to see in a software package.
    52. 53. to see in
    53. 54. You run a business unit.
    54. 55. You are not a software developer.
    55. 56. Don’t tell the software developer
    56. 57. that you want a particular feature
    57. 58. because
    58. 59. they’ll give it to you.
    59. 60. Instead…
    60. 61. tell them what outcome you want to achieve
    61. 62. and why it is important.
    62. 63. That way you’ll get
    63. 64. what you need.
    64. 65. Part 3 Reading requirements
    65. 66. (By the way, the secret to this is all in the preparation.)
    66. 67. Remember these?
    67. 69. Step 1
    68. 70. Put the document down.
    69. 71. Step 2
    70. 72. Grab a trusted colleague
    71. 73. and piece of paper
    72. 74. or some sticky notes
    73. 75. or a whiteboard
    74. 76. And write down your current KPIs
    75. 77. Now add the things you do that are (a) important, and (b) not in your KPIs
    76. 78. <ul><li>KPIs that are reported on </li></ul><ul><li>Important things not in your KPIs </li></ul>KPI # 1 KPI # 2 KPI # 3 KPI # 4 Not KPI # 1 Not KPI # 2
    77. 79. Step 3
    78. 80. Write down all the major problems you have with your business unit today
    79. 81. and attach them
    80. 82. to your list of KPIs and important things
    81. 83. KPI # 1 Staff retention KPI # 2 Quality KPI # 3 Financial KPI # 4 Accrued Leave Not KPI # 1 Happy Customers Not KPI # 2 Clean office Staying on Budget with unexpected events Staff attrition too high Customer satisfaction heading south Quality of service inconsistent John’s desk Jane and Lois’ leave is too high
    82. 84. Step 4
    83. 85. Drop your problems into an important / urgent prioritisation grid
    84. 86. Important + Not urgent Not important + Not urgent Important + Urgent Not important + Not urgent
    85. 87. Important + Not urgent Not important + Not urgent Important + Urgent Not important + Not urgent Staying on Budget with unexpected events Staff attrition too high Customer satisfaction heading south Quality of service inconsistent John’s desk Jane and Lois’ leave is too high
    86. 88. (Projects are expensive and complicated enough without loading up small-fry issues)
    87. 89. Only keep the important issues
    88. 90. Important + Not urgent Not important + Not urgent Important + Urgent Not important + Not urgent Staying on Budget with unexpected events Staff attrition too high Customer satisfaction heading south Quality of service inconsistent John’s desk Jane and Lois’ leave is too high
    89. 91. Step 5
    90. 92. Draw a circle
    91. 94. Write down a short description of the project’s goals in the circle
    92. 95. Solve world hunger
    93. 96. Now write your important problems and issues around the circle
    94. 97. Solve world hunger Staying on Budget with unexpected events Staff attrition too high Customer satisfaction heading south Quality of service inconsistent
    95. 98. Link up the project’s goals with your problem areas
    96. 99. With a description of how the project should be helping
    97. 100. Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs Staying on Budget with unexpected events Staff attrition too high Customer satisfaction heading south Quality of service inconsistent Solve world hunger Staff want to help
    98. 101. Projects won’t connect with all your problems
    99. 102. Solve world hunger Staying on Budget Staff attrition Customer satisfaction Quality of service Staff want to help Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs ?
    100. 103. (That’s a good thing)
    101. 104. (Overly large projects are too complex and usually fail)
    102. 105. Step 6
    103. 106. Take your KPIs and other important responsibilities
    104. 107. &
    105. 108. take the links
    106. 109. between the project’s goals and your problems
    107. 110. and
    108. 111. Make them headings
    109. 112. Staff want to help Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs KPI # 1 KPI # 2 KPI # 3 KPI # 4 Not KPI # 1 Not KPI # 2
    110. 113. Give them a shorthand code
    111. 114. Staff want to help Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs KPI # 1 KPI # 2 KPI # 3 KPI # 4 Not KPI # 1 Not KPI # 2 A B C D E F G H I
    112. 115. Now you are ready
    113. 116. to read those requirements
    114. 117. and assess
    115. 118. how the project will affect you
    116. 119. and your business unit.
    117. 120. Let’s revisit those steps:
    118. 121. <ul><li>Put aside the requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on your key objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Identify your key problem areas </li></ul><ul><li>Prioritize your problems </li></ul><ul><li>Identify the links between the project goals and your problems </li></ul><ul><li>Set up a code to track requirements against what’s important to you </li></ul>
    119. 122. Step 7
    120. 123. Read each requirement statement
    121. 124. At the end of each statement
    122. 125. Attach the code for each problem or goal you have
    123. 126. And then rate the requirement
    124. 127. on it’s ability to affect you
    125. 128. (good or bad)
    126. 129. When you complete the document you’ll have notes
    127. 130. On everything that is relevant to you
    128. 131. And you’ll also have
    129. 132. Lot’s of requirements statements
    130. 133. that have no relevance to you
    131. 134. Now you can focus
    132. 135. on what is important.
    133. 136. And you can see
    134. 137. how the project’s requirements
    135. 138. will affect you.
    136. 139. There is one last thing.
    137. 140. Step 8
    138. 141. Go back to your diagram
    139. 142. that links the project
    140. 143. to your goals and problems.
    141. 144. Solve world hunger Staff want to help Customers are fed Funding is adjusted to accommodate new costs Staying on Budget with unexpected events Staff attrition too high Customer satisfaction heading south Quality of service inconsistent
    142. 145. Which one of these issues
    143. 146. have been left out of the document?
    144. 147. Do they matter?
    145. 148. If they do, it’s time to write up a list…
    146. 149. and send it to the project team.
    147. 150. I hope this is helpful.
    148. 151. We’d love your feedback. (comments below)
    149. 152. www.betterprojects.net
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