Writing Better Requirements by Ian Alexander

By Ian Alexander

Well-written requisites are the most important to platforms of every kind: you're not going to get what you will have except you ask for it. This publication explains and demonstrates precisely what specifications are for, and the way to jot down them

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You may be able to prompt users simply by asking them to describe a real or imaginary scenario. Starting at the end - having reached the goal - and working backwards is sometimes the easiest approach. For example: • to get payment into your company's account, you have to pay in the customers' checks; • to get the checks, you have to send out invoices to the customers; • to send the invoices, you obviously have to work out what they owe you; • to work out... It often helps to work backwards a step at a time in this way.

Although you know it is poorly organized, you are committed to developing a system against it. The requirements it contains may be full of holes, unrealistic, poorly organized, and repetitive. Nevertheless, they have contractual force. Moving from a contract to a structured, verifiable set of requirements is both a technical and a human problem. The customer may insist on using the original document, however impractical that is, and regardless of what the users in the customer's organization actually want.

Questions for the following situation, see where they lead, and draft user requirements for the underlying problem: Existing design: The bottle-warmer displays a red light when the power is applied, but the light goes out when the specified temperature is reached, Hint: separate out the requirements from the design solution. Was the implied design good? What might have driven it? Users are the primary source of requirements. Unless you are a user yourself, and perhaps even if you are, you will need to make an effort to understand and experience the users' problem to describe it successfully.

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