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The Dirty Harry Approach to Requirements, or “Are you Feeling Lucky, Punk?” Solve Problems First, Ask Questions Later - Part 1

Have you ever had to use a map to get somewhere, and after navigating around the wilderness for hours, eventually had to ask for directions because it failed you?

Alternatively, have you ever read directions to assemble a toy, and rather than help you, the directions made things much more complicated?Perhaps you just figured it out on your own, without the directions.

This is what some BA’s and IT folks do all the time. They get understandable Business Requirements in hand, the bugle sounds, and IT is immediately restless in the starting gate. And they are off!Who will be the first IT hero to come up with a solution or the code which business will say yes!

In this kind of a race, there is never a finish line.The race will go on forever until all of the problems are solved; and in fact some of the problems are the results of other solutions. Finally, someone in IT draws a white line in the sand (creates a functional Design Document or something) and says to the business, 'is this ok?'If the business agrees, then the race is over. Now it's time for the next game.

Now we play a game of tag.The IT group starts coding the solution. After a while, an issue comes up and the IT folks tag a businessperson.“You're it”, say the IT folks. “When you have an answer, let us know.” (Back to Doom 10)

The businessperson comes back with an answer, and now the IT folks are tagged.This goes on until all of IT‘s questions are answered, or the business gets frustrated to a point and says, “Just do something.” As a result, someone in IT or the business erases the white line from the first game, and redraws the white line somewhere else.

Now if you’re lucky, the BA is so annoyed by this, that they says to IT, “Let's just get more precise requirements.The IT folks say no way. The business is already ticked off, and talking to them again will only tick them off more.We cannot start over, we must use what we have, and you need to sell it to them (or shove it down their throat) and make them like it. Speak their language; and it should be easy.

Therefore, the BA starts selling the solution (after finishing up his/her resume).This is where 'Do you feel lucky' comes in to play. We all know what happens from there.A two month project takes 1 ½ years and costs $1.5 million dollars and a death march.

The examples above are about being precise and understandability. Jonathan Babcock wrote a great article in his blog titled Good Requirements Are More Than Just Accurate. This is a great article; take the time to read it.

Now, since I got out all of my pent up aggression, I need a week to recover. Next week, in part 2 we will look at how we get precise and understandable requirements, and stop the games above.

By the way, I really do like IT folks. It's just that sometimes I don't like the way they do things.Ok, sometimes I hate the way they do things. In most cases, though, the IT folks are just trying to help the business, and that honorable intention is what gets us all in trouble some times...

posted @ Tuesday, October 25, 2011 10:46 AM by ModernAnalyst.com

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