Translate businessneeds into technicalrequirementsICAA5158A
Overview The analysis stage of a project involves identifying the needs of a business or business process and then quantifying those needs into technical requirements. Once the business needs have been established and you have an idea of the technology to be used for the solution, you can commence translating the business needs into technical requirements. Technical requirements are often supported through the use of modelling techniques such as data flow diagrams, UML or entity relationship diagrams. In addition, technical requirements should be measurable; that is, you should be able to validate if you have been able to achieve or surpass the required technical requirements.
Overview Sometimes the business requirements are known as the functional requirements, and the technical requirements are known as the non- functional requirements or constraints. In other situations, the technical requirements are known as technical specifications, or just specifications. Technical requirements are not goals - they are requirements! This unit (ICAA5158A) will give you the knowledge and skills to translate business needs into technical requirements. Technical requirements may be used by a development team to create a solution. At other times, the technical requirements may be used to validate the specifications for software purchased off the shelf.
The topics for this unit are as follows: Compile business needs In this topic, you will learn how to clarify the business problem and identify business opportunities as well as identify the strategic direction and vision of the organisation and document business needs. Determine technical requirements In this topic, you will learn how to identify technical requirements by accessing the business problem, determining interface and processing requirements and determining functional constraints. Once the technical requirements have been determined Secure sign-off for technical requirements and solutions In this topic, you will learn how to manage the end of stage for the sign-off process.
Compile business needs clarify the business problems and confirm information with stakeholders identify the vision, strategic mission and objectives of the business or business process identify key stakeholders and their requirements document business objectives and problem and confirm details with the appropriate person.
Clarifying the business problem You need to establish the business problem or opportunity before you begin translating business needs into technical requirements. This will often be documented in the business requirements document or report. There are various techniques used to define and refine the project needs such as interviews with the client, online surveys or forms, user discussion groups and questionnaires with samples of the target audience. The major purpose of this analysis is to develop an understanding of what is achievable within the project constraints.
Clarifying the business problem The process of needs analysis may result in a separate business needs report, especially on large projects. On smaller projects, the needs analysis and the information gathered can often be documented with the proposed solution in the one document. The main paragraphs of interest in this report are the problem statement or opportunity statement, and the functional requirements. The functional requirements describe the way in which the different components and functions in the solution will interact. The functional requirements will further clarify how the solution is going to work and how users will use it. If a business requirements document or report has not been completed, you will need to conduct a needs analysis.
For most IT applications, the needs analysis will broadly focus onthree aspects by analysing the following perspectives: business perspective – eg outline of the current business climate, structure of the company and the emerging industry issues that are driving this project – the primary business aim or product technical perspective – eg outline of IT systems and infrastructure of the company (including PC types, numbers and locations, details on browsers, operating systems, servers, security policies, networks and bandwidth capacity) human perspective – eg outline the motivation of staff to use new IT systems. This may also cover such considerations as PC literacy, industrial relations issues for staff, legalities and even language issues for users.
Methodology Some IT managers and analysts believe that this style of methodology is a positive way to approach IT development. The idea behind it is to ensure that as an IT professional, you focus on the solution from all major angles. A common criticism in the past has been that IT developers have focused too heavily on the technology and not enough on the users’ needs or the long-term business goals.
Identifying the vision or strategicmission The business needs that have been identified should align with the vision or strategic mission of the business; however, often the system for which you are writing the technical requirements is only a small portion of the total business systems. In this case you will need to clearly understand the processes and procedures that the new system will replace or automate. The processes and procedures will form part of the technical requirements.
Identifying stakeholders With the business requirements established, your job will be to develop the technical requirements. Sometimes these are known as the non-functional requirements or constraints. In order to document the technical requirements, you need to identify key stakeholders within the business and stakeholders external to the business. Their needs will form part of the technical requirements.
Activity 1 – Stakeholders Select an IT project that you are familiar with. Attempt to document all the stakeholders involved with this project. Divide them into two groups (internal and external). Comment on the issues that may arise if all the key stakeholders are not involved in the project.
Documentation Technical requirement reports vary significantly in content and there is not a definitive template for writing the report. Your organisation or project sponsor may request specific content in the report, or the content may be at your discretion. A technical requirements report for an e-commerce website will have significantly different content than a technical requirements report for a database, software or network system. There are some basic issues to consider when analysing hardware and software when creating a technical requirements report.
Hardware Compatibility – will the solution work with existing and future systems? Support all formats – will the systems and architecture support all types of media? Will the system be supported by existing resources within the company? Is there funding available for new hardware (eg new servers)? What is the business disaster recovery and continuity strategy? Has this been costed? Are there time restrictions or time delays for procuring hardware? Will you be relying on another workgroup to set up the hardware? If they don’t consider your project a priority, is that time delay factored into your delivery strategy? Can other projects help absorb the cost of hardware? Is the network able to cope with the increase in bandwidth usage?
Software What is the total cost of ownership of the software? Are there licensing issues? (As the system is in development, should you pay for all the licensing now or when the system is in development/live mode?) Can the software be licensed for use by multiple users who use it on different machines (concurrent licensing)? How long has the software been on the market? When is the next release due? How stable is the release? What happens if the software company becomes insolvent? Who supports it? Who owns the source code? What happens if the source code is modified – who supports the product then? Does the solution work with all other company software systems? If web-based, does the solution function on all common browsers? Can the software be delivered in a ‘locked down’ format? Is the software cross-platform compliant? Is the software easy to use or are there major training issues and costs?
Activity 2 – Factors thatinfluence business decisions When preparing business needs requirements documentation, issues like policy changes, company takeovers, industrial relations or legislative changes often have a major affect on the business. Select a project you are familiar with and discuss how two of these issues influenced the business decisions.