An Overview of Requirements Prioritization

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Prioritizing RequirementsExcellent requirements prioritization is essential to any well-run project. It ensures that the project focuses on the most important elements first, and that everyone understands and agrees regarding what the project’s most important elements are. Good prioritization of requirements will also ensure that engineers, programmers and database analysts develop a project’s most critical elements in sync with the business needs.

BABOK 2.0 devotes a whole section to prioritizing requirements, noting, “Prioritization of requirements ensures that analysis and implementation efforts focus on the most critical requirements.” 1Another writer notes, “Establishing each chunk of functionality’s relative importance lets you sequence construction to provide the greatest product value at the lowest cost.” 2Requirements prioritization enables an analyst to ensure that requirements are ranked and implemented in a top-down approach.

Some organizations choose to eschew any type of requirements prioritization, effectively leaving the shape and implementation of their project to chance. This approach ignores some basic truths about requirements engineering, which are noted by Donald Firesmith in his article “Prioritizing Requirements”: some requirements are more important than others and therefore should be given higher priority; most projects do not have the dedicated to staff to implement all features at once; and many long-term projects experience shifts in priority as business needs change.3In virtually all projects, time and resources will dictate that only a certain number of requirements can be addressed at any given time. Therefore, it behooves the analyst to ensure that the requirements addressed at any specific juncture are the ones he or she believes to be the most important. Business Considerations in Requirements Prioritization

Business Considerations in Requirements Prioritization

When it comes to the process of assigning a requirement’s priority, any requirement may be prioritized at any point in its lifecycle, according to BABOK. But regardless of when it is done, before a requirement can be prioritized, an analyst must consider what is most important from a business standpoint. There are a number of possible business considerations , including value, cost, risk, difficulty of implementation, likelihood of success, stakeholder agreement and urgency, each of which is described in more detail below. Often, a combination of these methods is used when considering the business need; rarely is one alone used in a vacuum.

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COMMENTS

ajmarkos posted on Monday, May 17, 2010 3:57 PM
The most important thing in prioritizing requirements is missing here! What actually guides the analyst in discovering essential (i.e., highest value) requirements and their interrelationships?

All the methods discussed are used to prioritize requirements AFTER they have been discovered. But unless the major focus is on using an approach that rigorously guides the analyst through discovery, I will guarantee you that many essential requirements will be missed until way late in the game. Such greatly detracts from the value of any post-discovery prioritization techniques.

Tony Markos
adrian posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 7:15 AM
Hi Tony,

I agree with you that requirements prioritization is critical however, as this article's title hinted, it dealt with "Requirements Organiztion" only. As it happen, at the same time another article was showcased as well titled: "An Overview of Requirements Prioritization":

http://www.modernanalyst.com/Resources/Articles/tabid/115/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1370/An-Overview-of-Requirements-Prioritization.aspx

They go hand in hand.

- Adrian
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