A common question we are asked is “What level of competency is needed for those developing and reviewing requirements?”
The short answer is everyone involved in requirement elicitation, development, review, implementation, verification, validation, operations, maintenance, etc. needs to have training in what is involved in writing a good requirement. They need to understand the characteristics of what makes a good requirement, a good set of requirements, and the rules to follow that will result in your requirements and requirement set having the desired set of characteristics.
In our classes on writing requirements, we ask our students: “How many of you are involved in either the writing, reviewing, implementing, or verifying requirements?” As is expected everyone raises their hands. (Why else would they be in a class on writing requirements!)
Next we ask: “How many of you have had formal training on how to develop good requirements?” Time and again what happens is only two or three people (out of 30) raise their hands.
When we ask the others where they learned to write requirements, the two most common responses are; on-the-job and using existing requirements as examples. On-the-job learning from someone who has had no formal training can be a recipe for bad requirements. Copying poorly written requirements over and over again will not lead to well written requirements either.
Many people assume, incorrectly I might add, that if a person has a degree in hardware or software engineering or other technical degree, they automatically know how to write requirements! Bad assumption!! Most college students only think of requirements in terms of what the requirements are to graduate.
If companies want good requirements, which of course they do, they must act on a number of fronts:
1) Make sure everyone knows how important good requirements are to the product success,
2) Establish standards and checklists for good requirements,
3) Document processes for eliciting, developing, and managing requirements,
4) Provide formal training in those processes and in writing good requirements,
5) Provide the resources (time, people, tools) needed to develop good requirements and manage those requirements, and
6) Make requirements quality part of job performance assessments as well as making sure the processes are followed and the requirements meet the established standards and checklists.
Writing good requirements is hard work. The devil is in the details. Often after someone has completed one of our classes, when they try to apply what they have learned to their project, they have questions. Providing access to an experienced mentor who really understands the art and science of writing good requirements is important.
ArgonDigital provides a series of requirement training classes to meet your needs.
RE also provides requirements management and consulting services to help you improve your requirement development management processes as well as mentor your team members as they apply what we teach to their own projects.
Writing good requirements is hard! It is even harder when you have to write them over and over again to get them right. In order to get a good set of requirements – the first time — all stakeholders involved in eliciting, writing, and managing your requirements need to have the proper training on how to write good requirements.
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