Requirements Management and Communication (BABOK KA)

Feb 04, 2024
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Requirement elicitation, a critical part of project development, is often perceived as a purely technical process. However, this is not always the case. Effective requirement elicitation relies not only on technical acumen but also on an understanding of how human cognition, biases, and behaviors shape the process and what we can do to mitigate the negative influence of these inherent human factors. In this article, we selected three critical human factors: confirmation bias, the availability heuristic, and groupthink. These factors are commonly experienced in requirement elicitation activities. The article delves into the intricacies of these human aspects of requirement gathering and illustrates their impact using examples. We dissect the impact of these biases on requirement gathering, shedding light on the potential consequences that can arise when they go unchecked. Furthermore, we discuss strategies and techniques for mitigating these biases, emphasizing the role of requirements analysts as impartial facilitators.

Jan 01, 2024
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Achieving an equilibrium between the desire to produce more functionality and quality requirements is a challenge in most software development projects. Functional requirements are often in the spotlight because of their tangible impact on user experience and business value. But quality requirements silently underpin a system’s reliability, security, and robustness. In this article, we delve into the critical role played by quality requirements and the tension most software projects experience in managing these two types of requirements. Navigating the tension between functionality and quality is a challenge. The allure of visible functionality often overshadows quality attributes, leading to the unintentional neglect of quality requirements. This imbalance can result in costly consequences, including operational disruptions, post-release fixes, and damage to an organization’s reputation that may be caused by a security breach or a custom data privacy leak. To address this challenge, organizations must empower their technical teams to influence project priorities and actively participate in shaping product quality.

Dec 10, 2023
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The objective of this article is to help business analysts deal with the task of eliciting and documenting non-functional requirements (NFRs) - also known as Quality Requirements. It describes NFR fundamentals in terms of who, what, when, where, and why. It’s considered one easy lesson because my series on functional requirements needed nine articles, and my series on data fundamentals needed 10.  This article assumes that the NFRs are wanted in relation to a software-based solution to a business problem or opportunity. Also assumed is that there are or will be functional requirements for the solution.

Oct 29, 2023
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DevOps emphasizes rapid development, continuous integration, and automation, which presents a unique challenge in terms of aligning it with the often more structured and linear process of requirements gathering and documentation. This article discuss this tension between two paradigms and how to harmonize them. In this article, we explore the challenges of harmonizing traditional requirements engineering practices with the dynamic nature of DevOps. By embracing open collaboration, continuous feedback, adaptability, and traceability, DevOps teams can navigate these challenges and pave the way for seamless integration. In the context of DevOps, requirements cannot be static artifacts; they become living entities that evolve in tandem with the software. This article is a reflection on the challenges of integrating RE in DevOps and an exploration of avenues to achieve seamless integration.

Oct 01, 2023
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The COVID-19 pandemic made remote work and virtual teams more popular than ever before. This remote work model seems to be here to stay. According to recent surveys, a high percentage of workers now choose a hybrid work paradigm that involves both remote and in-person work arrangements. It is important to understand its impact on organizations and employees and develop best practices for thriving in this new work paradigm. Successful virtual team collaboration across cultural, organizational, and geographical boundaries requires effective communication that overcomes barriers such as time zone disparities and language barriers. The success of software development projects is dependent on the efficacy of communicating requirements, which can be particularly difficult in virtual teams due to language, culture, and modes of communication. This article aims to examine the prevalent obstacles that arise in requirements communication and suggest potential approaches to improve requirements communication within virtual team settings.

Aug 27, 2023
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Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a branch of artificial intelligence that aims to allow machines to comprehend, interpret, and generate human language. It comprises developing algorithms and models capable of processing natural language input such as text, voice, and pictures in order to do activities traditionally performed by humans. Recent developments in machine learning technology, as well as the availability of large natural language datasets, have allowed NLP to make great strides in recent years. Quality checks, extraction, classification of requirements, requirements modeling, traceability of requirements, and retrieval are the six main areas of focus for NLP tools and studies. In this article, I discuss these advances in NLP for requirements engineering (RE). NLP for requirements engineering is a growing field of study, yet there is a disconnect between research findings and practice. This is because there aren’t enough high-quality data sources and domain-specific requirements sources. Despite this, scientific progress has been made in showing potential. The community of practitioners should collaborate with academics and tool suppliers to influence the direction of NPL for RE.

Jun 25, 2023
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What role can generative artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT, play in business analysis? Could it interview a stakeholder? How would it deal with a difficult stakeholder? It depends on how well it’s trained.

I set up a scenario with ChatGPT to conduct an interview with a challenging stakeholder. I prepared it with a prompt to prepare for a difficult stakeholder but did not give it any specific objections. A breakdown of the entire prompt follows the interview scenario and transcript below.

Apr 30, 2023
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Business Capabilities are at the heart of an organization’s planning ecosystem. Capability mapping serves many purposes, two of which are critical. First, business capabilities are instrumental in setting priorities more quickly focusing on the most profitable initiatives first. Second, well crafted detailed capability-based roadmap allows agile project planning that is more accurate, less risky, and takes less time.

Apr 09, 2023
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Many organizations acquire and adapt purchased packaged solutions (also called commercial off-the-shelf, or COTS, products) to meet their software needs, instead of building new systems from scratch. Software as a service (SaaS), or cloud, solutions are becoming increasingly available to meet software needs as well. Whether you’re using a package as part or all of the solution for a new project or implementing a solution in the cloud, you still need requirements. Requirements let you evaluate solution candidates so that you can select the most appropriate package, and then they let you adapt the package to meet your needs. This article describes several ways to approach requirements definition when you plan to acquire a commercial package to meet your needs.

Mar 26, 2023
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 Here are six more practices that, again, virtually every project will find valuable. These are adapted from our book, Software Requirements Essentials: Core Practices for Successful Business Analysis.

Do you have to do them? Of course not—that’s your choice. The requirements police won’t hunt you down if you don’t. But if you know of any projects that won’t find at least five of them valuable, please let us know. We’ll notify the Guinness World Records people.

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There are many other valuable requirements activities besides these six. However, these practices greatly increase your chances of building a solution that achieves the desired business outcomes efficiently and effectively. Applying them doesn’t guarantee success for any BA, product owner, or product manager. But neglecting them likely ensures failure.

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As an analyst you have to ensure your own understanding of the bigger picture. You have to zoom in and zoom out frequently. You need to analyze either in small initiatives the context under which the ba work will take place. It is possible to get so focused on the solution that your thoughts are stuck only in delivering the solution and forgetting to revisit frequently the alignment with the scope and the context.

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A change request (CR) is basically any change in the initial set of signed-off requirements. So, typically in a waterfall model implementation, the requirements phase ensures that all the requirements (features/functionalities/functional and non-functional) are agreed upon and documented before development starts. After that, any new scope brought or requested by clients becomes a change request. There is an additional cost associated with implementing a change request.

Even in the agile model of working, although there is flexibility in the implementation of the project, vendors ensure that a high-level set of requirements are discussed and agreed upon. The iterative way of working ensures that clients have their eyes on the product as it is developing and can suggest corrections or alignments. However, no vendor can work with entirely flexible requirements. It's not feasible from a budgeting standpoint.

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Is your requirements approach friendly to vocabulary, policies and messages? I mean directly. Wouldn’t it be of great help to your organization in achieving its goals if they were? In our experience, policy sources almost always need interpretation and disambiguation to achieve an effective practicable form. As this column discusses, the rule message ‘Reserved for Green Car’ provides an excellent case in point.

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As a business analyst you will have to communicate internally and externally. Many channels and type of communication may be used. Except ensuring that all the parts have understood correctly the message as you have it in your mind, you need also to perceive what you are saying as important, correct and insightful. You need your communication effort to have impact and many times to trigger specific actions.

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