Discovering REAL Business Requirements for Software Project Success

by Robin F. Goldsmith

While a number of books on the market deal with software requirements, this is the first that reveals how to save time, effort, and aggravation by preventing the major cause of “creep”--system/software requirements that don't satisfy the REAL, business requirements. This invaluable resource presents a practical methodology and techniques for discovering the REAL business requirements that software products must meet in order to provide value. In addition, professionals learn more than 21 ways to test that business requirements are right, by assessing suitability of form, identifying overlooked requirements, and evaluating substance and content. Organizations that apply these approaches enhance software development success, user cooperation, and satisfaction.

The powerful techniques and methods presented are applied to a real business case from a company recognized for world-class excellence. This cutting-edge resource introduces the innovative Problem Pyramidtm technique which helps professionals more reliably identify the real problem and requirements content. From an examination of key methods for gathering and understanding information about requirements, to seven guidelines for documenting and communicating requirements, this book is a comprehensive, single source for uncovering the REAL business requirements for software development projects.

Creep—requirements changes and additions—is a major reason most software projects are late, over budget, and not what the customer needs. Creep problems persist because software requirements management/engineering conventional wisdom misses key parts of the story, which this book pioneers in revealing and addressing.

For most projects (and authors), “requirements” describe the software product that IT intends to create and creep both inevitably and extensively because users don’t know what they want, business changes so much, and requirements weren’t defined clearly enough. In fact, much of creep is due to something else--the product’s failure to do what the business really requires, largely because the REAL, business requirements were not defined adequately, and often hardly are recognized at all.

A number of widely-accepted but mistaken beliefs contribute to projects’ typically inadequate definition of business requirements. First and foremost, of course, is the “Field of Dreams” presumption that whatever product is going to be built must be what the business/user needs. Focus on the product is especially compelling when the user dictates the features and functioning, even though implementing them faithfully still frequently leads to “that’s not right” and further creep changes.

More insidiously, many projects do define “business requirements” but still suffer creep because they fall into the trap of describing only high-level needs and desired benefits, which they erroneously believe decompose into detailed product software requirements.

Rather, first adequately defining business requirements in detail enables mapping to the high-level design of a product that meets REAL needs without so much creep. The book shows skills and techniques, including the powerful Problem Pyramid™ tool, for discovering and testing the adequacy of REAL, business requirements that provide value when delivered by software products.

Robin F. Goldsmith is President of Go Pro Management, Inc., a consultancy in Needham, MA. He has extensive information systems experience, having worked in this capacity for the City of Cleveland, large financial institutions, and a “Big Four” management consulting firm. Mr. Goldsmith presents public and in-house seminars and is a frequent speaker at leading software development and quality/testing conferences. He earned his LL.M. in taxation law at Boston University, J.D. at Suffolk University, M.S. in psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and A.B. in psychology from Kenyon College.

Hardcover * Approx. 240 pp. * Available March 2004 * ISBN: 1-58053-770-7 * Order Book No. 3L7709

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