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Requirements Gathering

Three reasons why requirements gathering is so difficult

One: When users say green they mean blue…

Requirements stem from business need and from the various interpretations of the need. The first elaboration of requirements is far from the actual. The main reason is that the business need as understood by the users undergoes change as they see what the software application can deliver. The first demo usually creates a sea change in the requirements and rate of change slowly tapers on subsequent deliveries. So be careful – hear them say green but be ready for blue.

Second: Technology is the culprit…

The current technology gives only so much functionality. However the users require something more.  A backlog of unfulfilled requirements always remains. Now comes a new technology piece – a new language, a better protocol, a costly software piece now has a open source cousin – all these makes newer things possible. Suddenly the marketing team asks can we pull in feedback from twitters, blogs, YouTube and make new business intelligence in-roads and respond faster to customers. Quite possibly a team is trying to connect the BI software to the information extracted from various social networking streams with a pinch of semantic processing to give customer feedback alerts to ad spend managers in the organization on their Blackberry! New requirements or changes in requirements often come through the unexpected.

Third: The time versus understanding trade-off…

Spend more time with users the complete and better defined will the requirements be. At least that is a reasonable assumption. How much time are users actually giving or are willing to give? The users’ time and attention is a critical commodity and effective use of this time is aided by tools and techniques used in requirements gathering. Requirement gatherers would always be happy with more time with users but that being limited put the level of understanding at the a compromise. If this results in a requirements gap then it is back to more time with the users.

I suppose there are more, but these would be amongst the top in my experience.

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