In a previous post I discussed the value of conducting requirements audits. I’d like to give some (hopefully) practical experience on how to conduct audits.
If your organization doesn’t already have standards for what makes a good requirements artifact, then you need to start here first. This doesn’t have to be a big effort to define, and there’s plenty of material out on the web and in books if you need some help (here’s a post to get you started).
Once you have your guidelines, make sure you use them during your audit. Running an audit should be like using a recipe – everything you need should be in one place. You should decide if you are going to review all portions of deliverables, or just do a sampling of each. You should also list all of the quality standards that your reviewers should assess the deliverables against. Put these in a checklist form with yes/no or a scale marked on the page – this makes it easy for the reviewer to document their findings.
Assign Ownership in Advance
An important consideration in implementing audits is that they don’t happen by themselves – you have to plan for them. If your organization is large enough, you may have QA or Compliance staff that can conduct the audits for you. If not, you need to find someone that can perform the audits. Identify who will conduct the audits and also when before the project starts.
Conducting audits is not a natural skill – most people will need some kind of training. At a minimum, hold a session where you explain why audits are important and how they will help the organization and individuals, roles and responsibilities, and the use of checklists. It’s great if you can give good and bad examples for each of the standards.
Use the Results!
Most importantly, don’t forget to use the results. Review past findings at the start of a project so your team doesn’t wind up repeating previous mistakes.