How Not to Get Lost in the Abundance of Software Requirements

One of the primary purposes of developing custom-made business software is to find a technological solution for problems that prevent the growth of an organization’s efficiency. Solving such issues as inefficient business processes, customer dissatisfaction with provided services, lack of brand awareness, and many others can become much easier thanks to adopting a properly designed application. The question is how to translate customers’ needs into software requirements and develop an efficient management strategy to control them efficiently during the project development.

The complexity of modern software that business analysts face, along with the possibility of requirements changes appearing in the middle of a project’s life cycle, leads to dozens of challenges. Poorly communicated, unclear, misunderstood, or vague requirements are some examples of the main reasons software projects fail. Therefore, understanding common requirements management challenges is crucial for every software development company. In this article, we’ll consider the main problems that business analysts may face during the work on the project and try to outline the possible ways of overcoming them.

How to Not Turn Requirements Management into a Mess

First of all, it’s essential to avoid requirements segmentation. Believe it or not, requirements management is a case where “putting all eggs in one basket” may become a good idea. Developing a centralized requirements repository storing both approved and planned requirements and providing access to them for all users with required rights can be a good starting point. Such a management approach can improve collaboration between all involved parties and simplify the process of tracking how requirements change over time.

As the project evolves, the customer may decide to add significant changes to the requirements list. It’s nothing unusual when a new idea sparks in one’s head long after a seemingly ideal action plan is developed and approved. For example, at some point a customer may decide that mobile devices support is a feature without which the whole project has no sense at all. However, such an approach can harm the business project management process. Changing the project’s scope randomly may lead to unwanted delays, tons of rework, and a feeling of uncertainty among the development team members.

It brings us to the following requirements management challenge. It’s essential to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in the process of developing the requirements documentation that must follow the requirements baseline. Its primary purpose is to achieve an agreement between the involved parties about the requirements to be implemented during the specific stage of development.

There’s no way to avoid requirements management changes during the project development, so it’s better to prepare yourself beforehand. Some requirements may change once while others change multiple times, so it is barely possible to keep them all in mind. Especially if we consider the fact that business analysts, product managers, project managers, and other specialists may be involved in multiple different projects at the same time.

That’s the reason why requirements versioning can be a pretty severe topic when we talk about requirements management. It’s essential to avoid confusion about which set of requirements must be used in a specific version while branching. Using such tools as Word or Excel for versioning may not be the most optimal decision in this case, so it’ll be a better idea to adopt a product provided by a reliable project management software development company that provides a reliable requirements management tool.

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Naturally, a customer who decided to cooperate with a software development company wants to receive as many as possible requirements implemented as soon as possible. But the fact is that developers’ resources are limited, which leads to the need for additional management effort helping to avoid conflicting requirements. The business analyst’s role is to document all requirements, analyze them, hear stakeholders’ opinions on prioritizing them, and decide how to line everything up to avoid frustration within the development team.

It’s crucial for a software product to have a good-looking user interface for multiple reasons. If an application has a catchy design, there are higher chances that new users will decide to try it, so the business can attract new clients and increase brand awareness. Suppose a software development company’s customer wants to develop a product for use within their company. In that case, a nice-looking UI will not make employees feel uncomfortable with the need to do the work ahead. On the other hand, a bulky UI overloaded with interface elements whose purpose is not intuitively clear can cause fatigue from just looking at it, leading to decreased productivity.

Hover, from the requirements management perspective, it’s essential not to sacrifice productivity for visuals. Customers may have a clear picture of how specific design elements should look and how exactly they will grab users’ attention. Unfortunately, the specifics of what’s going on “under the hood” often may stay out of the picture. In such a scenario, it’s the business analyst’s responsibility to ensure that there’s a clearly defined distinction between how the final version of the product should look and how it should operate.

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For any project whose completion requires the involvement of two or more people, communication problems may become a significant obstacle. Such issues may take different forms and require accurate management. For example, customers may not know the specifics of the software development process and misinterpret some professional terms, which can lead to misunderstandings between them and business analysts. Language barriers and wrong assumptions of what and when is scheduled to be completed are other potential parts of the communication problem.

Possible solutions to this requirements management problem may include, for example, the development of a document containing the customers’ view on how the future project should look like described in their own words, what experience the end-users will receive from the use of such product, and how these needs of a customer can be translated into a set of measurable and implementable requirements. Such an approach will help customers understand which path their business problems travel before technological solutions are found.

Conclusions

Requirements management is a complex task due to its very nature. The task of translating customers’ requests into a set of product requirements may be pretty challenging in itself. A variety of factors can harden the requirements management process and turn it into a complete mess without a proper approach. The good thing is that if you prepare a few aces up your sleeve in advance, chances are good enough that everything will go smoothly without a hitch. Constant communication between the business analyst and all stakeholders during the whole life cycle of the project, due attention to documentation, and the ability to prioritize requirements correctly can sometimes do wonders.

If you want to discuss your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us.