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The Lanham Factor The (ir)rational thoughts of a (not-so)mad man

Those of you who know me know that I am a stickler for using the proper word.  A shovel and a spade are not the same thing.  The term "requirements" is suffering a similar fate.  Although requirements have come in many varieties over the decades, the current de facto standard is to capture functional requirements as use cases or some similar mechanism (user stories, for example).  Unfortunately, however, I often see a bulleted list of "features" described as "requirements". 

Don't get me wrong, feature lists are an important (perhaps even essential) part of the requirements gathering process.  They should not, however, be mistaken for "complete requirements".  The requirement model is a complex, living organism that consists of significantly more than a simple list of features.  The sunny-day scenario is easy (and maybe even boring as a result).  You need to expand (GREATLY) on the "feature" to describe the exceptional conditions and situations associated with it.

Use the correct terminology where possible.  If you have a list of "things the system ought to do" in Excel(R), do not mistake that list for requirements.  On the other hand, don't throw it out either.  This feature list is an important part of understanding the features that the system must provide to be effective at automating some business process.  But it is only the beginning of understanding.

So, if you were to look at artifacts created as part of a requirement model, consider the following:

  • Feature List - This can be on a sheet of notebook paper (yes, I wrote "paper").
  • Vision Document
  • Use Case Outlines
  • Use Case Details
  • Use Case Diagrams
  • Supplemental (Non-Functional) Requirements

What's that?  Activity Diagrams?  Oh don't even get me started on business modeling...

Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 1:42 PM Entertainment , SILC - Solution Implementation Life Cycle | Back to top

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