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    June

    20 2017

    Aggregating and Extracting Product Requirements

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    Aggregating and Extracting Product Requirements - Cygnet Infotech

    Studies indicate that between 40% - 60% of all defects in software projects can be traced back to errors made in gathering requirements. Lack of clarity in the scope of business functions and ill-defined business requirements are identified as the top two challenges that business analysts face in managing requirements.

    Arguably, the most important part of software product development or any technology project begins well before even a line of code is written i.e. at the requirement gathering stage. The requirement document not only provides a blueprint to an intelligent, well-defined roadmap but also increases the probability of ensuring a projects’ timely success.

     Software development professionals must follow a   meticulous process. The goal is to get the software development team and users on the same page very early on. Moreover, identifying issues to minimize the gap between what users expect and what software product engineering team thinks is easier and less expensive to detect and fix in the earlier rather.

    Importance of Requirement Gathering

    Although requirement gathering may seem logical, it is given far too little attention. So how do we determine the needs and expectations of what consumers expect to receive? We do it through requirement gathering and user test cases.

    Requirement gathering is either functional or non-functional and usually includes three types of activities, eliciting requirements, analyzing and recording requirements, aimed at creating a clear and concise outline of what the project aims to achieve.

    While functional requirements refer to the desired functionality that a client wants, the processes, information and interactions that a product must perform, scope of software product or boundaries, business rules and data models, the non-functional requirements address the visual properties of the system apart from the environment they’ll operate in, the technical requirements, cultural, political, legal or security requirements. Once the requirements have been established, it is time to implement MoSCoW (Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, Won’t Have) prioritization to help understand priorities.

    Here are the 7 guidelines for an effective requirement gathering:

    There is no perfect way of gathering, aggregating or extracting product requirements. However, these are just major guidelines:

    • Involve the end-user from the start to define and agree on a well-defined scope of the project.
    • Do not work on assumptions – Always ask the user
    • Must be unambiguous and clearly describe the criteria with easy-to-follow written documentation of requirement and share it with customers and confirm their understanding.
    • Must be feasible so that it can be accomplished.
    • Develop SMART (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) requirements with the attention on the what and not how.
    • Understand the environment in which the software will run.
    • Create a prototype to confirm or refine customer’s requirements.

    Thus, stronger foundation and understanding of the project through requirement gathering paves way for smooth and better software development.

    Define the critical objectives and purpose

    Before you get started with requirement gathering, you will need a clear and well-defined project scope to define critical objectives and purpose, thus fixing boundaries for requirements to be gathered. By defining the goals and setting milestones, not only does the Agile team increase the probability of success, but they are also able to better tackle the challenges and obstacles that they are likely to face. As a statement of purpose, each goal must have its purpose and is a powerful way to achieve flexibility in solving problem.

    • Requirement Gathering is what we are aiming to achieve
    • Objectives is what we actually deliver
    • Purpose is what the business gains from the output

    Talk to the stakeholders and apply good interpersonal skills

    A stakeholder is anyone with an interest in the project and it is important to gather accurate, complete requirement so they do not have any unrealistic expectations as to what is possible and what is not. Thus, there must be constant participation and communication with the stakeholders to address their expectations and concerns.

    Quality and accuracy of requirements are critical. Therefore, it is advisable to gather requirements properly by selecting appropriate techniques and multiple tools for gathering requirements from stakeholders:

    • Facilitated small group workshop sessions with a facilitator to gather data
    • Conference call interviews
    • One-on-one interviews in person
    • Questionnaires
    • Group interviews
    • Requirement Gathering Tools like JIRA, Trello, HP ALM
    • On-line Surveys

    Once the requirement is gathered, developing a prototype and reviewing it again with the stakeholders is a great way to get everyone on the same page, have all the necessary information and ensure a successful project.

    Probing

    Apart from open-ended and close-ended questions, probing is a powerful tool in requirement gathering. An effective way of probing is not to ask questions from information that is readily available from other sources, rather asking questions that help responder think more deeply about the project. This in turn will help to elucidate the user/ stakeholder’s requirements. Thus, you can obtain information to uncover requirements without the users or stakeholders feeling inhibited about what they need or expect from the project.

    Think broadly, overall product development must be at the core rather than looking at just one aspect of it

    To develop a great product, it is imperative to be able to think from multiple viewpoints. Think broadly to inculcate a range of perspectives to allow your team in charge of product development to acquire a greater understanding of the actual market dynamics and maximize the probability of success. It involves considering the long-term vision, what users think about your product and what they are saying, your competitor and overall macro trends as also being on the lookout for new technologies to allow you to create disruptions well before others. Thus, you need to constantly view the bigger picture.

    Choose the best methodology based on the requirements 

    Cost and time prove to be the most important factors when determining the best methodology. However, Agile, the iterative, team-based development continues to be the undisputed approach. With its time-boxed sprints and continuous feedbacks, Agile can deliver better results by giving back control of the project.

    However, you may follow these guidelines to choose the best methodology based on requirements:

    When to Choose Waterfall Model: When the requirements are clear, well-known and fixed, product definition is fixed, technology is understood and there are no ambiguous requirements.

    When to Choose Agile Model: When new changes are to be frequently implemented and can be done so at very little cost. The developers take only a few hours or days to implement a new feature and when the changes can be discussed and features can be newly infected or removed based on feedback.

    Define the capability scope – Scope Document

    Considered as one of the most challenging tasks of project management, the project scope document includes the goals and objectives of the project, the product description and requirements for the project, the constraints and assumptions, and the risks associated with the project. This document should also include the acceptance criteria for the end product. The project requirement is essentially where product requirements are thoroughly understood and documented.  

    Value Proposition:

    Most project value propositions include reduced cost, faster to market, increased operational efficiency or even increase in market share. However, they must also address genuine user needs and go beyond the basics. Value proposition must be specific and a clear statement of tangible benefits a user stands to get. It is equally important to mitigate scope creep because it is a slippery slope that can be difficult to recover from. You can manage it by well-defined customer requirements and ensure deviations are not encouraged and they are as per the agreed contract.

    Remove/discard any unrealistic scope, it may hamper the development at a later stage otherwise

    The measure of success of a project is its ability to remove and discard any unrealistic scope. Scope and objectives are the foundations on which the success of a project is built therefore you must ensure that you discard any unrealistic scope so it does not hamper development at a later stage. An effective way to do this is to consult with each stakeholder to identify their needs and expectations which allows you to:

    • Avoid setting unrealistic outcomes
    • Provide a more realistic timeline
    • Avoid Scope Creep
    • Set unrealistic targets or deadlines

    Successful project scope statement should be realistic, clear and concise. Setting unrealistic outcomes, and schedules prevent your project from succeeding. 

    Technology challenges

    Often a lack of understanding of the limitations of the IT infrastructure can lead to a situation where the client wants something that the software development team can simply not deliver. Managing requirement gathering is furthermore challenging in a globally dispersed team given the technology challenges and constraints.  Thus, it is necessary that all stakeholders understand the technical limitations and be open to accept alternative solutions. The best way to tackle technology challenges is to identify the actual requirements and put a framework in place which enables stakeholders to know what technology options are on offers and what the development team can do.

    Consider the Risks Included

    Analysis and requirement management are instrumental to a project’s success therefore it is advisable to run risk management processes throughout the product lifecycle stage. If stakeholders are not engaged properly or early enough or probably lead to unrealistic project outcomes, certain risks are directly associated to specific requirements and these may open risks of regulatory non-compliance, legal issues, PR issues, unexpected costs and process bottlenecks.

    Critical Assumptions Based on Analysis

    Apart from emphasis on requirement gathering, articulating assumptions and constraints too play an equally important part. Assumptions are factors believed to be true but not confirmed while constraints like project budget, time deadline, are limitations on possible solutions. Although clear and concise objectives leave less room for assumptions or varied interpretations, you must make intelligent and informed assumptions based on analysis.

    Feasibility Study and the Prediction of Success Ratio

    Feasibility study is critical to gain the commitment of your senior management and obtain resources and project funding. Apart from helping predict the success ration, feasibility study also enables you to identify the risks associated with the project, thus providing valuable inputs to the requirement gathering efforts. It is used to evaluate a project’s potential for success and whether the solution is viable, practical and workable as also economically justifiable within the budget and schedule. The two key criteria to judge feasibility are cost required and value to be delivered. Key areas that feasibility study emphasis to predict success ratio include:

    • Technical Feasibility
    • Economic Feasibility
    • Legal Feasibility
    • Operational Feasibility
    • Scheduling Feasibility

    Piecing together a requirement gathering for your project doesn’t have to be a monumental task. All it requires is an organized plan to steer your project to success. Let our experts vet your project requirements to maximize your product potential. Drop us a line at inquiry@cygnetinfotech.com

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