Requirements-Led Project Management: Discovering David's Slingshot (paperback)

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9780321659040: Requirements-Led Project Management: Discovering David's Slingshot (paperback)
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Requirements are a crucial ingredient of any successful project. This is true for any product--software, hardware, consumer appliance, or large-scale construction. You have to understand its requirements--what is needed and desired--if you are to build the right product. Most developers recognize the truth in this statement, even if they don't always live up to it.

Far less obvious, however, is the contribution that the requirements activity makes to project management. Requirements, along with other outputs from the requirements activity, are potent project management tools.

In Requirements-Led Project Management, Suzanne and James Robertson show how to use requirements to manage the development lifecycle. They show program managers, product and project managers, team leaders, and business analysts specifically how to:

  • Use requirements as input to project planning and decision-making
  • Determine whether to invest in a project
  • Deliver more appropriate products with a quick cycle time
  • Measure and estimate the requirements effort
  • Define the most effective requirements process for a project
  • Manage stakeholder involvement and expectations
  • Set requirements priorities
  • Manage requirements across multiple domains and technologies
  • Use requirements to communicate across business and technological boundaries

In their previous book, Mastering the Requirements Process, the Robertsons defined Volere--their groundbreaking and now widely adopted requirements process. In this second book, they look at the outputs from the requirements process and demonstrate how you can take advantage of the all-important links between requirements and project success.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson have, over many years, helped hundreds of companies improve their requirements techniques and move into the fast lane of system development. Their courses and seminars on requirements, analysis, and design are widely praised for their innovative approach. The Robertsons are principals of the Atlantic Systems Guild, a well-known consultancy specializing in the human dimensions of complex system building. They are also the coauthors of Requirements-Led Project Management (Addison-Wesley, 2005).

James Robertson and Suzanne Robertson have, over many years, helped hundreds of companies improve their requirements techniques and move into the fast lane of system development. Their courses and seminars on requirements, analysis, and design are widely praised for their innovative approach. The Robertsons are principals of the Atlantic Systems Guild, a well-known consultancy specializing in the human dimensions of complex system building. They are also the coauthors of Requirements-Led Project Management (Addison-Wesley, 2005).

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Overture

We explain how requirements and their successful management are inextricably linked to project success.

Through the years your authors have participated in and observed many projects, both successful and otherwise. A factor present in every successful project and absent in every unsuccessful project is sufficient attention to requirements. The "requirements," as we use the term, means having knowledge of the functionality and the qualitative properties the product must have, as well as constraints that affect the product.

It does not matter what the product is. Our clients in electronics, aviation, automotive, pharmaceutical, government, and software have all found the same thing: Requirements must be correctly understood before the right product can be built. Requirements are the way of communicating between the people who commission a product on behalf of anticipated users and builders of that product. The requirements are usually communicated in the form of a text document, a set of models, or both, according to the nature and needs of the particular project.

We believe it is self-evident you must know the requirements before being able to construct the right product and that many projects are aware of this even when they do not specifically practice it.

However, less awareness exists of the contribution requirements make to the managing of a project. Our experience is many project managers make less than optimum use of requirements.

For example, one of the outputs from the requirements activity is a context model. Requirements analysts build this model to define the precise scope of their study, then proceed to use it to determine the business use cases. But this is not just an analysis model--it contains enough information for a project manager to measure the size of the task and to make accurate estimates of the needed effort. Similarly, the requirements analysts go through a process to identify all the stakeholders who have requirements for the project. By simply counting these stakeholders and looking at the requested interview durations, it is possible to schedule resources.

The project manager's intention is to deliver a product that satisfies (or perhaps enthralls!) the customer. We refer to this as a project success indicator and will discuss these in the first chapter. The requirements activity, as we set it out in this book, suggests you make use of project sociology analysis to ensure you have the right people on the requirements team, you use appropriate elicitation methods, you invent parts of the product (some of our most useful products are pure inventions), and add a customer value to each of the requirements. These are all major contributors to building a product to satisfy your customer, yet we sometimes see project managers short-change this activity in the hope of saving time to delivery. It never does save time and the product is always heavily (and expensively) modified before the customers find any use for it. Alternatively, the project manager who spends too much time on the requirements activity (yes, it can be done) is naturally wasting resources that can be better used elsewhere.

We aim to show you here how to effectively gather the requirements (Chapter 4), how much time you should be spending on your requirements (Chapter 11), and, fundamentally, whether or not you should be investing in building the product in the first place (Chapter 2).

Most important, we aim to show you the potential of requirements activity. Like David's slingshot, this relatively simple tool in the right hands can produce results far beyond its cost. We also hope it equips you to tame a few giants for yourself.

Development of Volere

Formalizing the link between requirements and project management has taken some time and many, many projects. We started toward this goal in 1995 when we posted the first edition of the Volere Requirements Specification Template on our Web sites. The template is a framework for gathering and recording the different types of requirements-related knowledge. We wanted a formality for specifying atomic requirements, grouping them into business and product-related chunks and making them traceable throughout the project. We also wanted the flexibility of having requirements in a variety of forms and of choosing (according to the specific situation) when to gather detail, and how much. Since then, tens of thousands of people have downloaded the template. We originally developed Volere with software products in mind, but our requirements template and process have been adopted by people in projects as diverse as restoring old churches, designing motor vehicles, labelling pharmaceuticals, air traffic control, planning business procedures, and designing phones. After all, a requirement is a requirement regardless of whether it is for software, hardware, organizational procedures, consumer products, or anything else that someone wants or needs.

We have added the feedback from Volere users around the world along with our own practical experiences in consulting and teaching to develop and refine our approach. Part of the Volere approach is a generic process for gathering and communicating requirements. This is proving effective as shown by the thousands of organizations scattered throughout the world who are using adaptations of this process for their requirements gathering.

Volere (Vol-Air-Ray) is the Italian verb for "to wish or to want." We have used the word as the name for our work on requirements (template, process, tools, training, audits, and clinics). You can find more information at our requirements Web site at www.volere.co.uk.

This Book

This book is about the contribution requirements make to the success of development projects. The book is intended for you if you are connected with the development of software or hardware or consumer products or services. You probably have the word "manager," or "leader" or something similar as part of your job title.

The book references some requirements-gathering techniques. We are not attempting to tell you how to perform these; we assume you already have some familiarity with them. When we talk about the requirements activities, we do so in light of how they contribute to project management, and project success. This book is about how to make better use of requirements and how to use the products of requirements as a management tool that contributes to project success.

During the course of this book we will show you

  • How a quick cycle time can deliver more appropriate products.
  • The most effective requirements process for your project.
  • How to use the requirements as a way of discovering stakeholders and managing their involvement.
  • The best way of progressively prioritizing requirements and managing expectations.
  • How you can quantify customer value and concentrate on satisfying the most valuable requirements.
  • How to manage requirements across multi-domain/scope/technology projects.
  • How you can measure and communicate requirements progress.
  • How you can use requirements as input to project management planning and decision making.
  • How you can use requirements to communicate across business and technological boundaries.

The book also has insights for business analysts. However, it is neither an introductory book nor a techniques book. Our previous effort, Mastering the Requirements Process, is recommended if you are looking for a "how to" book on requirements analysis. In this book we are looking beyond the technicalities of the requirements process to justify the effort needed to discover requirements, to show how to get stakeholder commitment, to measure the effort needed, and to show you how to exploit the all-important links between requirements and project success.

Our intention is to provide practical ways of using requirements to contribute to your project's success. We feel we will have succeeded if your next project runs a lot more smoothly, your communication with stakeholders is more effective, you can react more quickly to changes, you can quantify the improvements, and you enjoy it more.



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