There is Value in a Good Passdown of Software Requirements

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Several years ago, my sister in law (Cathy) went to visit my parent’s at their home. She arrived at the house while my mother was out running a quick errand.

Cathy noticed that there was a pot on the stove with some freshly brewed tea. Being thirsty and the ever-helpful daughter-in-law, she decided to go ahead and pick up where my mom had left off, so she finished mixing the tea.

My mother arrived at the house a few minutes later to find Cathy sitting on the couch enjoying a nice glass of ice tea. Mom walked into the kitchen and asked Cathy where she got the tea. Cathy explained how she had just finished what my mother started and made the tea. At that point, my mom asked her “so where did you put the sock?

Not quite understanding the question, Cathy sat there and just looked puzzled. Mom started laughing and found the blue pitcher where Cathy had made the tea. Calling Cathy into the kitchen, Mom took a spoon and pulled out a ratty looking sock from the mixture.

See, Mom had started out trying to die an old white sock tan for a hand puppet for a school project. She had seen tea used many times as a child to turn things to white material to tan and figured that no one would mess with what she was doing.

Although Cathy had good intentions, she totally missed the mark. Cathy thought she knew what was required to finish the job, so she took over without really getting a good pass down. All of her efforts produced what she thought was the end goal, but had she missed the goal of the original project. As a result, Cathy was embarrassed and had to restart her project of making Ice Tea and my mother ended up with a slightly different sock to use with her puppet.

When transitioning into a project, it is critical that we get a good pass down of not only our role, but understand the expected outcome as well. This way, we can decrease the risk of creating an unusable product. We should never assume that we understand what needs to be done.

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