Mind Reading Services would definitely be popular in software development offices. Why? Because it requires much communication for developers, project managers, and clients to be on the same page regarding desired results. This communication does not always go smoothly – so teams need to guess what their client really wants.
According to developers, inadequate and vague requirements from clients (or their representatives) cause significant problems in development. And they are not wrong!
Specifications provide teams with insight into what they must accomplish. More than that, they influence other crucial software development processes. Consequently, the most common cause of project failure can be traced to insufficient requirement elicitation. So this process deserves greater attention!
Gathering Requirements: What, When, and How?
Requirements are simple statements that describe how a product should work, behave, look, accomplish certain goals and solve specific problems. Gathering them or a project is an essential step since it sets the tone for future development and defines the overall aims of the product in general. Initial requirements are high-level, defining business objectives. And as you work with them throughout project development, they become more and more detailed and system-oriented:
Eliciting specifications is the responsibility of stakeholders (project initiators), their representatives, and hired business analysts. These are people who will be directly affected by the outcomes of the product dev.
Once the project has begun, you will need to provide your requirements to your software development outsourcer. They can then provide you with advice about what technology stack you should use, how many people should be recruited, how long the project would take, as well as if the idea is even technically feasible in the first place.
Based on project parts they cover, specifications can be of different types:
- Business requirements outline what a business needs to succeed and how it benefits from the product under development.
- User requirements define what users expect from the solution, how to solve their pain points and meet their needs.
- Functional requirements dictate what your system should be able to do and what conditions it should satisfy.
- Non-functional requirements identify results in terms of quality the application should achieve (for example, scalability, security, etc.).
- Transition requirements describe conditions an application should have to achieve the desired outcome in the future. As soon as this outcome is completed, these specs will no longer be needed.
Here are some examples of each type:
Resource: BA times
Your development team needs requirements to understand what you need from them. Consequently, if there are no specifications in place or they are vague, projects will either not be developed or be full of problems – from adding the wrong features and making incorrect estimates.
Why are Precise Requirements Crucial For Your Project?
The project needs a clear vision from the beginning because you need to know what you want to develop and why you need it. Vision alone is not sufficient to actually kick-start the development process – you must detail it, make it more transparent, and break it down into more traceable and manageable requirements.
With vague or non-existent specifications, you leave your product exposed to the following risks:
- The inability to begin working on a product at all;
- Inconsistencies, bugs, and issues resulting from employees interpreting vague requirements in their own ways;
- Estimation problems;
- Inadequate prioritization of project deliverables;
- Spending extra time and money on reworks;
- Team morale is at an all-time low;
- Despite the excellent technical quality, an app’s functionality does not satisfy the end users’ needs.
You can’t get where you’re going without requirements. They set the project in motion and point it in the right direction – the one you have initially envisioned. However, it does not mean that your specifications will stay the same throughout the entire development process. They might slightly change to keep up with stakeholders’ and users’ dynamic needs.
A great deal of the planning will depend on your initial requirements. Even so, sometimes the market situation changes, or you will need more work to handle growing traffic, so you might need to refine them. With the help of your business analyst and project manager, this process will go on smoothly.
Issues with requirements refinement and prioritization as the project progresses may also cause obstacles. As per the State of Software Development 2021 report, specifications prioritization is 4th among the top five reasons for delivery problems in software development teams. The same report lists unclear deliverables, unrealistic expectations, and inaccurate estimations as the other top 3 reasons for failures. Of course, they also trace back to inadequate requirements. So you should not disregard the necessity of eliciting and refining them. For help, you can hire business analysts or ask your outsourcing vendor – each of them has experience with this type of job.
But how do you determine if specs are good enough to start and drive your project?
Signs of Well-Elicited and Clear Requirements
The primary objective of requirement elicitation is to understand what needs to be done in detail and to place everyone on the same page. If clear and direct, they are therefore key to success. There are, however, several additional characteristics of reasonable specs. They should be:
- Unambiguous – can only be interpreted in one way
- Easy to understand – grammatically correct and semantically sound
- Suitable for testing – can be verified to ensure proper implementation
- Clear and straightforward – avoiding redundant information and unnecessary words
- Reality-based – able to be accomplished with available resources, time, and money
- Required – deemed necessary by stakeholders or users
- Maintaining consistency – not conflicting with other requirements
- Fully complete – must list all factors that may affect it
To prepare a requirement of this nature, you will need to implement analysis, communication, and gathering techniques into the dev process.
Elicitation techniques are activities you, other stakeholders, and your BA specialists will hold to gather a list of specifications. These techniques include brainstorming, interviews, creating focus groups, collecting user reviews, surveys, prototyping.
And then what’s left is communicating the requirements to your vendor and finally getting all work done! And with specifications being accurate and precise, the work will be done well!
In a follow-up post, we will cover the best techniques for gathering requirements in more detail and tell you about ways of effectively communicating them to your software development partner. So in order not to miss it, keep up with our blog!
And if you need help with any of the development processes or lack tech expertise for your next project – you can always contact SapientPro.