I am working on a project where Development teams are divided into specialized areas called Centers of Competence. For example, one team works on Customer data, another team on Product data and validation, another works with the Shopping Cart, another with Checkout and so on. Requirements are gathered within each of these Centers of Competence and handed off to Development for implementation.
The above approach works very well for modular functionality that is specific to a Center of Competence. For example, features specific to Customer Create are usually handled within the Customer Center of Competence and do not impact any of the other teams. But when Customer data flows from one team to another to be used further downstream for pricing, taxation, product segmentation and so on, the modular structure of requirements definition and development breaks down.
This is where the Requirements Analyst plays a crucial role in ensuring that proper functionality is developed. The key techniques we have used to ensure requirements flow across the modular functionality boundaries are as below.
1. Identify all development teams impacted by a requirement or feature request. For example, some specific Customer data may need to be captured to ensure proper pricing and taxation. These requirements will likely originate within those specific Centers of Competence, but will be developed by a different team. So, the analyst creating the requirements will clearly identify the impacted teams other than just his or her own Center of Competence.
2. Communicate clearly to impacted development teams the functionality they need to develop to support requirements in a specific Center of Competence.
3. Get estimates of time to develop, test and deploy from the other impacted teams. This is tracked as a separate task that must be completed prior to requirements being signed off for a release.
4. Conduct cross functional development and requirements meetings so that all impacted teams clearly understand the functionality that needs to be developed.
5. Define clearly the interfaces through which data and messages flow from one sub-system to another. Document any specific data requirements necessitated to support these interfaces.
6. Ensure that the test teams understand the implications for both unit testing and feature testing. There are typically two test teams to deal with. One test team works with a Center of Competence and the other is the global team that deals with the entire application.
All of the above tasks are managed, facilitated and executed by the Requirements Analyst. A good grasp of the overall application, a thorough understanding of data flow, an excellent working relationship with different teams and top notch facilitation skills are keys to success.
Good Requirements professionals managing both their individual areas and coordinating across boundaries are key to the success of the Center of Competence method of dividing and managing Development teams.
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