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New Post 8/13/2008 5:54 AM
User is offline Jim
15 posts
9th Level Poster

Advice for Documenting Some Specific Requirements 


I was looking for some advice on how best to document certain requirements that I have elicited for a project I am working on.  i will describe the business/user requirements in description form below and I am looking for suggestion for how to define the requirements in a business requirements document ("The system shall provide the ability to...") and how to define it for the developers (if it should be different).  Any thoughts would be appreciated!  I don't have another BA here and would like to bounce other ideas against my own.


This project entails doing some data processing on individual files containing a variable number of records.  We import the files into this system, then some functions operate on the whole file in batch, and then the user may work on accounts individually depending on the status of the batch functions run against the whole file.


1.) The first business/user requirement that I am looking for help on is for the system to be able to generate a progress report.  The report needs to show the total number of records on the imported file, each potential account status along with the number of records in each status, and a list of each function that has been performed on the file/records and when. 

What I have done is defined the requirement in the BRD as "The system shall provide the ability to generate a progress report.".  Then, I have written a use case describing how a person would run the report.  Then, I mocked up a sample for how the report should look.  The one issue I have is that the report should look slightly different under certain circumstances and I am not sure how to document that (i.e. the report should display or not display additional information if certain values are present).

2.) The second requirement that I am looking for help on is a little more complicated.  It is for the system to be able to import data.  The files coming from our clients are Excel files containing information about a person and their dependents, which could be any number (but usually no more than 3).  Most of our clients are not very tech saavy so our data layout can't be very complicated.  Our business has decided to provide them with a layout that looks like the following:

Name Address City State Zip Dependent 1 Name Dependent 1 Address Dependent 1 City Dependent 1 State Dependent 1 Zip

We are telling them that if there is more than one dependent, they should add columns for Dependent 2, Dependent 3 etc...  I am struggling with how to define the requirements for this import for the business and for the developers.

Thanks - Jim

New Post 8/16/2008 10:52 AM
User is offline Maureen Brown
1 posts
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Re: Advice for Documenting Some Specific Requirements 

Hi Jim,

What you have done so far sounds fine.  Could I suggest that you add / define Business Rules for the report, this can be done at the functional and/or data level.  If done at the data level, can I suggest that you have a table to describe each of the report attributes e.g:

Data Item (Name, Address, City etc) ¦ Format (dd/mm/yyyy, VARCHAR etc) ¦ Field Size (expected) ¦ Business Rules - describing the criteria/circumstances when data should be displayed e.g. if field X = value Y.

For your second issue it may be worth checking the maximum number of dependants to be received otherwise this will be a bit tricky for an excel spreadsheet.  You could show the file layout as 3 separate lines - one for each potential dependant - and have each line prefixed with a line identifier 1, 2, 3 (to aid the developers in loading the data).  This would mean that each record would have up to 3 lines of data (or whatever the max is).  I assume that there will be a unique reference number for each application which would group the dependants?  Also you will need to know how the system is expected to store the additional dependant information.

The best way for the Users to understand what they are meant to do is to provide them with a sample file (with sample/test data included) as well as the data file spec (list of attributes, the format and whther they are mandatory or not etc..).

Let me know how you get on. 


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