Requirements Management Tools and Six Steps to Success

Every business requires successful, efficient and utilitarian processes to perform the functions which earn it money.  The really simple way to describe this is those businesses which stick to successful processes thrive, whereas those which do not, fail. This is a gross over simplification, of course. However, a fundamental truth lies at the heart of that statement. This article will set out how requirements management tools and Six Steps to Success are the key to unlock successful project delivery.

Get it right at the start and success will come much more easily. The first steps are crucial.

Requirements Management Tools and Six Steps to Success is about starting  in the right direction and keeping going in that direction until success occurs.

Business success
Business success

The Six Steps for Success

There exists a very simple set of six steps for guaranteed success in any endeavour.  Personal development gurus and business leaders teach these steps at seminars all over the world.

The six steps:

  1. Be very clear of your outcome
    • Know the outcome in detail
    • Quantify the outcome with measurable metrics
    • Ensure that the outcome is possible, even if very ambitious
  2. Take an action to achieve that outcome
  3. Measure the result of that action and determine if it is getting you closer to that outcome
  4. If it is not, then change course
  5. Keep taking action, checking and if necessary, changing course, repeating steps 2 to 4
  6. Never give up, repeating steps 2 to 4  until that outcome is achieved

Whilst that list is very simple, completely lacking in applicable detail and at first glance, completely banal, or even vapid. It should not be dismissed entirely. That simplistic list of steps is applicable to every situation, from a toddler learning to walk, to ensuring an aircraft arrives at its correct destination, to landing a person on Mars.

For example, the aircraft flight computer is aware of its destination and its location and it compares that with the flight plan and takes action by correcting course continually, until it arrives successfully at its destination.

So Where Do Requirements Management Tools Come Into This?

The first step is to be very clear of the outcome. Knowing the desired outcome in detail to a very granular level is essential. It must be possible to describe every part of that outcome.  Listing every attribute required in detail.  These outcomes can become a repository of requirements and it is these requirements that are to be managed throughout the lifecycle of any project.  A Requirements Management tool will manage these requirements through defined processes to ensure that any project ultimately succeeds.

How to Create Requirements?

SMART requirements (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realisable, Traceable), are the best ways to define the specifics of your outcome as requirements. Each requirement should be either an item, piece of equipment, function, process etc. and linked in a hierarchy. For example, a cooling system is a requirement on an engine. That cooling system has a function, which is a requirement. That function must operate within pre-defined parameters, which are requirements. The cooling system is made up of various parts, like a radiator, pipes, pumps. Each of those are requirements with their own functions with operating parameters. All of those are requirements. Even a nut, or a bolt or a screw is a requirement with attributes of size, materials, strength, colour.

How to Manage Requirements?

As is evident from the above, any large system can rapidly become an enormous, labyrinthine mess of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of requirements of every aspect of your system.  Try keeping track of those during the systems engineering process from concept to creation.

unmanageable mess
Unmanageable mess

Every defined and agreed requirement must be met to guarantee the outcome of the project. Each part of the project must be linked back to a requirement, to ensure that the steps 2 to 4 above can satisfy and implement that requirement successfully. But when there are millions of requirements, then help is available.

The Solution

A tool designed to manage all requirements. It must be able to store and link all requirements to every relevant part of the system. That tool should also be able to trace every part of that system back to a requirement. This full checking of every item to every requirement keeps projects on track.  It should also be able to find any part of the system which does not link back to a requirement.  Such items that do not link back to requirements are evidence of wasted effort and expense.

Cradle is the only tool that has transitive linking, allowing full requirement redundancy checking and so can find wasted items that are not linked back to any requirements.

All your projects are kept fully under control. Cradle can handle all requirements traceability and coverage whilst also linking that into the rest of the  systems engineering project.  For full systems engineering solutions, with the entire requirements management control system built in, Cradle is the answer. Ensuring that every item is linked to a set of requirements, and no effort is wasted.

Cradle for all your requirements management needs

Start your six steps to success in order to feel the satisfaction of successful project delivery

Cradle – requirement management tools and the six steps to success.

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10 Rules for Requirements Management Mastery

Requirements management mastery is a process of ensuring that the goals of any project or endeavour are successfully realised, are timely and that waste, avoidable redundancy and “feature creep” are eliminated. Managing the requirements of any project throughout the lifecycle of that project is essential to save time, money, effort, resources and successfully arrive at the business goal.  For this reason, requirements management mastery must be a key focus of all projects.

Following the steps ahead, any project will stay on track, save money and deliver what the client needs as the process itself ensures that outcome. Requirements management mastery is a goal that your business will thrive from.

Rule One: Design the Requirements to be of Most Use

Ensure that all requirements derived from the client are SMART:

        1. Specific
        2. Measurable
        3. Attainable
        4. Realisable
        5. Traceable

 

Rule Two: Manage the Requirements

Identifying the user’s needs, through user’s needs statements which are then processed to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Traceable, are used to create user requirements, then system requirements should be developed from these user requirements. These ought to be linked to maintain full traceability and coverage throughout the project lifecycle and store all the requirements in a central requirements repository. Cradle is designed from the ground up to manage all requirements with full coverage and traceability, end-to-end, backwards and forwards through its unique transitive linking mechanism for full traceability and coverage from every requirement to every outcome, and from every outcome back to every requirement.

Rule Three: Ensure Constraints are Accounted for

Non functional and non system requirements such as for legal or regulatory compliance must be accounted for and this is useful for ensuring quality is maintained and indeed, built into the system.

Rule Four: Model Requirements

Various modelling tools (built into Cradle) are very useful for understanding requirements in a broader and more understandable way. It can reduce ambiguity and create a much better understanding of how requirements can be achieved.

Step 5: Test Requirements

Ensure that requirements can be tested, through test cases, tests, test results all linked transitively back to the requirements being tested. Cradle’s TEST module (Test, Execution & Recording (TER)) allows you to directly link Test Cases to your requirements, needs, or design elements. You can then define Test Plans and Test Executions to group and run these tests and the tool will record the Test Results against each Test Step.

Gathering requirements
Requirements management mastery

Rule Six: Be Aware of Business Needs

By analysing business needs, requirements can be optimised to ensure that essential stakeholders are made aware of opportunities to enhance the business and improve innovation.

Rule Seven: Ensure that Changes are Controlled

During any project lifecycle, changes occur which impact requirements. Having tools that manage those changes, tracks them through full traceability and coverage and notifies stakeholders of which parts of the project are impacted by those changes, gives the business a clear advantage, reducing errors, saving time and lots of money.

Rule Eight: Monitor and Track Metrics and Trends

Make use of Cradle to ensure that metrics are identified and learned from. Continuous improvement in requirements definitions and utility leads to better implementation.

Rule Nine: Keep a Repository of Good Requirements

Ensure that a repository of requirements is stored for future analysis and learning. These can be reused or used as templates in the future. Especially non-functional requirements relating to compliance with government or legal standards.

Rule Ten: Ensure that Requirements are Reused

Save time, money and effort by reusing requirements that are still useful. Why re-invent the wheel? Requirements that have been used before will hold useful lessons. Were they changed, amended? Why? What was learnt? Cradle’s Adaptations for reusability is very useful here.

 

 

Why is Requirements Management Essential for your Business?

Why is Requirements Management Essential for your Business?

Imagine you are renovating an old live-aboard boat. You have to ensure that the hull is sound and has no leaks. That the ballast is in the correct place to keep the vessel balanced, you need to upgrade the plumbing, the electric circuits, the gas installations, all whilst designing the living quarters, the saloon, the galley, bathroom and bedrooms.

There are many interesting videos on YouTube created by people doing precisely that and what stands out most, is that none of their original plans survive first contact with reality. Discovering that the constraints of the boat safety certificate means that they must have a specific number of brackets per foot for gas pipelines, or cost of materials suddenly rising threefold mid-renovation, or discovering that fittings simply will not fit where they require them, means mid refit changes to their plans. Buying a water pump for waste water, only to discover the inlet and outlet are different sizes, requires buying new adapters or pipes.  Often this means waiting longer for parts to be delivered before a task can be completed and the budget rising.

Each of the areas of the boat to be renovated is a requirement. How many leisure batteries do you need? Without doing a power audit, and knowing the full wattage of all your electrical equipment, that is guesswork. You do not want to be out on a month’s cruise, only to discover that your washing machine will not work due to inadequate electrical supply, so creating a set of fully researched requirements, and how those requirements will be met, is essential to a successful renovation.

Narrowboat Cruising
Requirements Management for Narrowboat Cruising

The same problems arise when renovating cars, houses or anything that requires a multitude of interconnecting and inter-dependent parts. Often A cannot be completed until B is completed, then whilst completing B one discovers that C, D and E are needed too, but they cannot be completed until A is completed. Around in circles one goes, spending ever more time and money until the project fails and has to be sold off for someone else to attempt to fix it.

Achieving and maintaining control over all the requirements is even more essential in business. Every project your business undertakes, requires analysis, design, implementation and testing phases. Without having a firm understanding of each and every requirement within that analysis, unplanned, forced changes will have a dramatic effect upon timescales, deliverability, functionality and costs. It can be the difference between a successful project and total failure.

The cost of a project requires a deep, granular level of understanding of exactly, in detail, every requirement of that project. It is necessary to know how each requirement will be satisfied and implemented, how much it will cost, how long it will take and a risk register for if any of those requirements cannot be met within the project plan. It also requires knowledge of how such a requirement can be changed during the project, what impact that change will have upon other parts of the project and how much time and money it requires to implement that change.

Requirements Management is the Key to Unlocking Success in all Projects

Requirements management is the key to unlocking success in all projects.
Requirements management is the key to unlocking success in all projects.

Not only does having a full requirements management system allow your business to ensure that all requirements are identified, assessed, agreed, costed, time allocated, tested, implemented, tested again and signed off, it also gives you magical powers when changes to requirements are forced upon you. A fully integrated requirements management plan within a project plan, that includes full coverage and traceability, backwards and forwards, with transitive linking, gives you magical powers to see, at any point in the full project, the status of all requirements at any point in time, but which functions, objects or other parts of the project have crept in, for which there is no requirement at all, exposing the project to unnecessary risk, cost and problems. Why are you spending time and money on something that is not required?

But the client keeps changing their mind…  It is a very common problem. As a project progresses, the client comes back with changes. Regulations change, requirements change, personnel change. This cannot be prevented, sadly, but what this means is that you have an opportunity to see very quickly what impacts such changes will have upon all areas of the project.

How can someone magically know which parts of a project are impacted with changes in requirements?

Cradle provides a fully integrated requirements management system within a full lifecycle product. One product that supports your entire systems engineering lifecycle. Cradle covers everything from initial requirements gathering, through analysis, design, testing, implementation with full baselining. Cradle is designed to control many variants and projects, with full traceability and coverage, end-to-end with unique transitive linking. This grants you full and complete control over every requirement at every point in the project and gifts you the ability to see how every part of the project can link back to any requirement, and if any requirement changes, to see what effects that has on other parts of the project and to see if any part of your project is NOT linked to any requirement and is therefore redundant effort and expense.

3SL Cradle - From Concept to Creation
3SL Cradle

Always in control, always on top of every part of your project at all times.  Do not be the person who has to sell up, because requirements spiraled out of control and the project failed.

Public Online Training Course – Requirements Management November 2022

Requirements Management November 21st to 24th 2022

The third RM training this year is – Requirements Management November course.

“A great opportunity for small teams, or a couple of new team members to get started with RM and Cradle”

Cradle Online Course based on Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels
Online Course

Businesses that are introducing Cradle and full Requirements Management processes into their operations, can book training for all aspects of the roll-out, from the basics through to specialist administration courses – See here. These courses are tailored and held at your premises / virtually depending on restrictions and requirements and are ideal for getting a team up and running.

Public Requirements Management November 21st to 24th 2022

If, however, you have one or two people new to a project or only have a very small team, this may not be a viable solution. With 3SL’s public online courses, you’ll benefit from all the normal learning, but will have the chance to network and share with other virtual attendees from other industries. This can be a cost effective solution to get you up to speed with Cradle and Requirements Management.

Details:

Date Subject Venue Cost Pre-Requisites Provision
November 21st to 24th 2022 Requirements Management Online learning tutored course.
4 * ½ days.
£570+VAT PC/Laptop – internet browser & Cradle installed ** Soft copy course materials, and printed certificate

If you would like to be kept in touch with the details for this Training Course – Requirements Management November 2022 please send an email to salesdetails@threesl.com

Buy Now

All courses are available for direct purchase online.

Other Dates and Courses:

For details of other courses on offer this year please see our 2022 training calendar.

Continue reading “Public Online Training Course – Requirements Management November 2022”

Public Online Training Course – Requirements Management May 2022

Requirements Management May 23rd – 26th 2022

The first RM training this year is – Requirements Management May 2022 course.

“A great opportunity for small teams, or a couple of new team members to get started with RM and Cradle”

Cradle Online Course based on Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels
Online Course

Businesses that are introducing Cradle and full Requirements Management processes into their operations, can book training for all aspects of the roll-out, from the basics through to specialist administration courses – See here. These courses are tailored and held at your premises / virtually depending on restrictions and requirements and are ideal for getting a team up and running.

Public Requirements Management May 23rd – 26th 2022

If, however, you have one or two people new to a project or only have a very small team, this may not be a viable solution. With 3SL’s public online courses, you’ll benefit from all the normal learning, but will have the chance to network and share with other virtual attendees from other industries. This can be a cost effective solution to get you up to speed with Cradle and Requirements Management.

Details:

Date Subject Venue Cost Pre-Requisites Provision
May 23rd – 26th 2022 Requirements Management Online learning tutored course.
4 * ½ days.
£570+VAT PC/Laptop – internet browser & Cradle installed ** Soft copy course materials, and printed certificate

If you would like to be kept in touch with the details for this Training Course – Requirements Management May 2022 please send an email to salesdetails@threesl.com

Buy Now

All courses are available for direct purchase online.

Other Dates and Courses:

For details of other courses on offer this year please see our 2022 training calendar.

Continue reading “Public Online Training Course – Requirements Management May 2022”

Public Online Training Course – Requirements Management August 2022

Requirements Management August 15th to 18th 2022

The second RM training this year is – Requirements Management August 2022 course.

“A great opportunity for small teams, or a couple of new team members to get started with RM and Cradle”

Cradle Online Course based on Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels
Online Course

Businesses that are introducing Cradle and full Requirements Management processes into their operations, can book training for all aspects of the roll-out, from the basics through to specialist administration courses – See here. These courses are tailored and held at your premises / virtually depending on restrictions and requirements and are ideal for getting a team up and running.

Public Requirements Management August 15th to 18th 2022

If, however, you have one or two people new to a project or only have a very small team, this may not be a viable solution. With 3SL’s public online courses, you’ll benefit from all the normal learning, but will have the chance to network and share with other virtual attendees from other industries. This can be a cost effective solution to get you up to speed with Cradle and Requirements Management.

Details:

Date Subject Venue Cost Pre-Requisites Provision
August 15th to 18th Requirements Management Online learning tutored course.
4 * ½ days.
£570+VAT PC/Laptop – internet browser & Cradle installed ** Soft copy course materials, and printed certificate

If you would like to be kept in touch with the details for this Training Course – Requirements Management August 15th to 18th please send an email to salesdetails@threesl.com

Buy Now

All courses are available for direct purchase online.

Other Dates and Courses:

For details of other courses on offer this year please see our 2022 training calendar.

Continue reading “Public Online Training Course – Requirements Management August 2022”

“You’re a Cab”

Ambiguity

Airport Taxi
“Ready for Taxi”

“This is Delta Bravo Twoah Oner Niner, ready for Taxi”
“He’s just on his way now. – Going to Paris Avenue or Road is it ‘guv?”[1]

“Call me a Taxi”[2]
“You’re a Taxi”

“The project output
should be limited  
to 15 rows”        

“I hope we don’t argue anywhere near that much!”

Whilst the examples above are intended to amuse they do highlight the need to be clear about your intention. Whilst they are a play on the English language, translations to and from customers and suppliers can cause equal ambiguity, especially if auto translated.  Using a well known search engine the phrase “The ship shall have a 50m bow” translated to Greek “Το πλοίο θα έχει τόξο 50 μέτρων” and back again “The ship will have an arc of 50 meters” which could easily be interpreted as its turning ability rather than the size of the prow. We just hope they see sense and don’t order yards of ribbon.  The addition of engineering drawings would, in this case have made the design request clear. It could also be achieved by having the requirements in a hierarchical order. If this sentence appeared as a sub requirement of dimensions rather then manoeuvrability.

Interpretation

What is smooth?

Welding Photo by based on Danial Abdullah from Pexels
Smooth Welding

We have previously noted the difference between “should” and “shall”, that which is a desire and that which is a must. However, it is still important to remember the context and understanding of your stakeholders and suppliers. Say you need a framework to support a conveyor belt in a factory, you may contact a steelwork supplier. The required dimensions and weight bearing characteristics could be specified with a clear tolerance and safety margin. You may also specify that ‘all surfaces are  smooth’ . The latter requirement being driven by the need to keep your employees and products from getting cuts or snagged from rough welds or sharp edges.

Your supplier is used to making conveyor systems for use in food and medical supply factories. To them ‘smooth’ implies a high quality stainless steel, with surface pitting limited to parts of a millimetre to allow for hygienic sterilisation. This sort of accuracy and finishing does not come cheap. A bit over the top given your conveyor is only moving some boxes of nails and screws to a palletising area. Whilst this would have given an over manufactured product that fulfilled the brief, it would have been far worse if the customer supplier situation had been reversed.  It is important to remember there are many different view points depending where you sit in the chain. Understanding these differences and making your requirements match can reduce costs and prevent mistakes.

Manufacture

Manufacturing can introduce errors
Oops!

Even with clear unambiguous instructions, the implementation can still go awry. A requirement for a level concrete shed base that needed to be 13ft by 9ft, given to a local landscaper seemed pretty unambiguous. Dimensions and context were all clear. The site was cleared and the shuttering ordered. The 2″*4″(nominal) timber was cut and assembled. What could go wrong? Each piece of timber had been cut to a fairly precise tolerance. Oops! The width of the wood had not been taken into consideration. The internal width was therefore only 8’8″ and not 9ft…… Luckily this was caught by customer checking before the concrete was poured, otherwise it would have been very difficult to rectify. In many cases manufacture could be too far down the line to amend in the same way as the shuttering was extended. Prototypes and intermediate component validation can all help.

 

Take AIM

Plan and understand, to avoid requirement failure

  • Avoid Ambiguity use sensible breakdown and context,
  • Ensure all your suppliers and stakeholders make the same Interpretation
  • Check the Manufacture meets the design

Use the right tools to make your job easier and traceable

Don’t try and juggle the data in many different silos. You should ensure your requirements, design, risks, and measurements are held in one linked dataset. Select Cradle and AIM for quality and success.

 

[1] The term “guv” or guv’ner a contraction of governor a colloquial deference to a ‘boss’ or ‘chief’

[2] The terms “cab” and “taxi” are accepted as synonymous. They refer to a vehicle that can be hired for transportation. Customers are picked up from one location and driven to another, the vehicle is known as a taxicab. The terms “cab” or “taxi” are derived from the same root. Cab is more common in the USA and Taxi more frequently used in the UK.

What is Engineering?

Engineering: (en-juhneer-ing)

The formal application of scientific and or mathematical principles to achieve a required goal.

This is quite a broad definition, there are many topics that are derived from the ‘pure sciences’ of  biology, chemistry, and physics and the mathematics behind them. Applying these sciences in different proportions gives us the terms we understand as engineering.  There are few ‘pure scientists’. Most professions require a mix with, say biology and chemistry to produce medicine or foodstuffs. Combine biology with physics to develop a space suit.  Physics and chemistry to produce batteries for your phone or car. Engineering is a mix of all these principles to solve problems and produce solutions.

Application of Science

As we, at 3SL, work (Software Engineers – application of logic and mathematical principles) there’s a construction site outside our windows. When you stop and think, there are a large number of principles being used in this civil engineering project. Definitely a lot of physics and mathematics, were used to calculate the safest ways to demolish the old building. A Police station, used to stand on this site. More science will have been used, by structural engineers, to calculate the forces and stresses in the new structure. A hotel and restaurant is to be built. Similarly the ‘Cast-In-Place’ 20m concrete piles that are being drilled into the ground will have chemical reactions occurring in the cement and ballast mix. These have been calculated and tested to produce the right strength pile to support the building.

You may not find much biology being applied on the site (save the organisms now living in the muddy puddles). However,  the chemicals used in the building from water pipes to paints will have had biological studies to ensure they are human safe, or how to use them safely.  Although,  when we have watched the seemingly graceful ballet of the excavators, diggers and trucks we can’t help feeling that the movements and joints were based on mother nature. The human and the control systems they operate, produce movements and operations which make it hard not to anthropomorphise the JCB!

Old Police station/ new Holiday Inn Express site Barrow-in-Furness
Civil Engineering Barrow-In-Furness

Discovery and Development

The principles used in engineering are or have been, observed empirically, calculated mathematically. They are then proven or developed by experimentation or modelling. The results are recorded and can be used in the next application. Therefore, that field of human endeavour moves forward. Whilst each engineering task will have a new goal, the principles that are applied will be based on the underlying sciences. The old building, that was removed, had different foundations from the new one. Development and testing move our engineering forward. We achieve more as knowledge and principles are built upon.

Application

Engineers need to understand the principles they are applying. Whilst these may be at very different levels, they still require planning and thought. No one would expect the building  to be produced by pressing one button on an ‘app’, but neither would you expect the civil engineers and architects to start experimenting with concrete mixes for every building. That’s not to say that there isn’t a group of engineers experimenting with different carbon fibre additives to give the concrete more strength at a reduced weight; their results being fed upwards to the building design engineers of the future.

Process

The formal application of these scientific principles, is how problem solving engineers meet the requirements. We know this as a design process. The whole being a ‘system’, this is systems engineering.  From the initial ideas and requirements management to the finished article, this engineering step is as crucial as the science principles upon which the solution relies. What ever engineering discipline you are in we hope you’ll agree, from concept to creation Cradle is the best tool you’ll see!

The Tail End

Whilst we agree that every job and every individual in our society plays an important role. There has been a bit of dilution of the ‘Engineering’ term in recent years. There’s a tendency for anything that is remotely technical to be labelled engineering. Anyone who understands which end of a screwdriver to hold gets called an engineer. Whilst I agree that there are chemical and physics principles afoot when I place the food in the pan for tea (dinner if you’re not from up North) and when I use the washing up liquid to clean the dishes, I don’t label myself a Domestic Engineer 😉

If you’d like to share your engineering thoughts for possible inclusion in a blog/Tweet/LinkedIn article, let us know your thoughts social-customer@threesl.com

Discussion Comments.

Continue reading “What is Engineering?”

The 4 Types of Requirement Confirmation

Every user requirement must be a clearly stated expressions of a stakeholder need for an externally-observable characteristic of the system being developed. Therefore, it must be possible to check that the system we have built satisfies all of its user requirements. Since there are different ways to check things, it is helpful to identify the 4 types of requirement confirmation and to tag all requirements with one or more of these types as early as possible in their development.

the 4 types of requirement confirmation
Verification and Validation in the Systems Lifecycle

Verification and Validation

But first, we need to define some terminology. The terms verification, validation and the acronym V&V are often used for checking compliance with requirements. Sometimes they are used differently, which can be confusing. So, we will define them first:

  • Verification is the activity of checking that the implementation, build or construction of a component, and the system itself, has been done properly. It is the idea of checking that a power outlet has been wired correctly and that it is properly earthed. Verification means to answer the question “have we built it correctly?”.
  • This is a good question to ask, but it does not answer the question “have we built the correct thing?”. That is validation. So, validation means to check that the system conforms to what its stakeholders asked for.
  • V&V is the combination of these two. Depending on your preference, it could mean either Verification and Validation, or Validation and Verification. Most of us in 3SL prefer the second, as it is a little easier to say. The two are equivalent. As a result, V&V simply means to check everything, from the quality of the raw materials, and the fabrication or assembly of components, to the final inspection, configuration, alignment or calibration of the finished product.

The 4 Types of Requirement Confirmation

The 4 types of requirement confirmation are:

  • Inspection, or I
  • Analysis, or A
  • Demonstration, or D
  • Test, or T

We usually abbreviate these types to IADT. They are often called validation methods.

Most requirements will have one of these validation methods, but sometimes a requirement will have more than one.

The Requirements Confirmation Methods

We can describe the 4 types of requirement confirmation as follows.

Inspection

Inspection is the examination of the product or system using basic senses. This means to do one or more of look at it, touch it, smell it (rarely applicable), taste it (even more rarely applicable!). So, we would physically examine a product and check that all its physical characteristics are as required and that it has all of the controls that it is supposed to have. Similarly, for a software system, we would check that its UI is as required, that it has all of the data entry fields and buttons that it is supposed to have. For a web application, we would check its appearance on different screen sizes.

Analysis

Analysis is the validation of a product or system using calculations and models. We will use analysis to make predictions of the product or system’s performance based on some representative, actual, test results. We can use analysis to calculate failure points based on actual test results, without resorting to destructive testing (expensive as we can only do it once!).

Demonstration

Demonstration means that we use the product or system as it is intended to be used. So we can follow the functional user requirements and check that the product or system does what the user requirements say that it should do. We will press every button and use every control in a product to confirm that the product does what it is supposed to do. For software, we enter data as users will do and ensure that the software performs the actions that it is supposed to do and check that its reports are correct.

Test

Test is a more precise and controlled form of demonstration. We test a product to confirm that it behaves precisely as specified under a set of carefully specified test conditions. We repeat these operations using different sets of test conditions, following precisely-specified steps to complete the test. Therefore, this is often to verify performance requirements.

Use in the Process

It is good practice to specify the confirmation criteria for each requirement as it is written. This is because it helps reviewers to confirm that the requirement has been written clearly, by answering questions such as “could I inspect the product and confirm this requirement?”, or “could I demonstrate that this requirement has been met with the finished product?”, and so on.

Once the requirement and its confirmation method(s) are agreed, we can create its confirmation item(s). If a requirement is simple, then it will have one confirmation. If complex, we will create more than one confirmation.

Similarly, if the requirement has multiple confirmation methods, then we will need a confirmation item for each of them.

Therefore, the goal would be a single validation for each requirement, because an atomic requirement (one that says only one thing) should only need one validation.

Of course, both user requirements and system requirements will have a confirmation method. So we would normally talk about validations and verifications, and not the more general term, confirmations. Therefore, we would refer to:

  • The validation method of each user requirement
  • Writing validation items for user requirements
  • The verification method of each system requirement
  • Writing verification items for system requirements

Although it is impossible to generalise:

  • The confirmation methods of user requirements are predominately Inspection and Demonstration
  • The confirmation methods of system requirements are predominately Test and Analysis

Right Tool for the Job?

58% of Projects are at Risk due to Poor Requirements Management Tool Selection.

Requirements Management usage info graphic
Mandatory Info Graphic (Requirements Management Tools Usage)

Over half of projects are using spreadsheets and word processing documents to manage their requirements they are taking a large risk.

poll showing who uses what tool
Requirements Management Poll

OK, so the tool  poll was very small and not necessarily scientifically significant, but it does indicate that not everyone has seen the light. And it gives us some data to draw the nowadays ‘mandatory’ info graphic!

As a young student, I remember being introduced to ‘Office‘ applications on a special ‘visit’ to a college. We were shown a spreadsheet and a word-processor. During the hands on task we were all asked to write something. A fellow student completed their piece but couldn’t understand why their work preview looked different to everyone else’s. Whilst all the words were there they were spaced in an odd manner. They’d used the spreadsheet, and entered a word in each cell and changed the columns until the text fitted. Whilst this is laughable now, the fact is the tool still allowed the job to be completed, still allowed the brief to be met. However, the result, using the wrong tool, was not as useful. Imagine trying to cut and paste a sentence into the middle of an existing clause….

A requirements management tool is adapted to aid the flow of requirement through design to testing and end of life. Items are linked in the project’s chain, unlike a design attribute in one document, vaguely referring to some version of a requirement in another.

Would we suggest a Requirements Management tool is needed for all projects?

NO! We wouldn’t, which may sound surprising from a tool vendor. If you make cupcakes and you get an order for 24 cakes 12 blueberry and 12 chocolate we would suggest a spreadsheet with a sheet of costings and a sheet of orders is probably enough, even a diary with the order written in the day before collection day would suffice.  We really don’t want you to spend your money on an inappropriate tool. Spend it on some new icing nozzles and deliver us a batch of cakes. However, if you produce tens of thousands of cupcakes for a number of different vendors and have numerous suppliers, recipes and food standards to meet, well we could conceive of a Cupcake project as a set of Requirements and associated items that needed to be managed. Supplier X changes their ingredient, which products does this affect?

Away from food, before we all feel hungry, we can confidently say that YES the more complex your product, the more components, stakeholders, standards and tests you have to mange, the more important the right tool. The easier traceability becomes, the easier changes can be made and impact calculated. Don’t try laying bricks with a spade, just because you have one in the shed. Don’t try turning precision parts with a drill and a file just because it appears to work. Don’t try and write a novel in EMACS just because it is an extremely powerful text editor . DO use the right tools for the job,

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