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Many managers and others who are not professional requirements engineers tend to greatly over-simplify requirements engineering (RE). Based on their observations that requirements specifications primarily contain narrative English textual statements of individual requirements and that all members of the engineering team are reasonably literate, the...
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The Use Case Model describes the proposed functionality of the new system. A Use Case represents a discrete unit of interaction between a user (human or machine) and the system. A Use Case is a single unit of meaningful work; for example login to system, register with system and create order are all Use Cases. Each Use Case has a description which ...
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In this fourth and final part of the series I'll share some of my advice for writing good specs. The biggest complaint you'll hear from teams that do write specs is that "nobody reads them." When nobody reads specs, the people who write them tend to get a little bit cynical. It's like the old Dilbert cartoon in which engineers use stacks of 4-inc...
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Now that you've read all about why you need a spec and what a spec has in it, let's talk about who should write them. Who writes specs? Let me give you a little Microsoft history here. When Microsoft started growing seriously in the 1980s, everybody there had read The Mythical Man-Month, one of the classics of software management. (If you haven'...
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This series of articles is about functional specifications, not technical specifications. People get these mixed up. I don't know if there's any standard terminology, but here's what I mean when I use these terms. A functional specification describes how a product will work entirely from the user's perspective. It doesn't care how the thing is i...
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It seems that specs are like flossing: everybody knows they should be writing them, but nobody does. Why won't people write specs? People claim that it's because they're saving time by skipping the spec-writing phase. They act as if spec-writing was a luxury reserved for NASA space shuttle engineers, or people who work for giant, established insu...
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Customers are never thrilled to find out they can’t get all the features they want in release 1.0 of a new software product (at least, not if they want the features to work). However, if the development team cannot deliver every requirement by the scheduled initial delivery date, the project stakeholders must agree on which subset to implemen...
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The path to quality software begins with excellent requirements. Slighting the processes of requirements development and management is a common cause of software project frustration and failure. This article describes ten common traps that software projects can encounter if team members and customers don’t take requirements seriously. I descr...
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Information System Development (or even the broader Information Technology field) is a relatively new discipline compare to matured disciplines like mathematics, physics or philosophy. It is difficult to find an agreed-upon definition on even a widely used term such as JAD. It can mean different things to different people, and it’s constantly evolv...
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As outsourcing, global commerce and constantly improving technology continue to change the business world, specialized professionals like scientists, engineers and information technology (IT) workers (including business systems analysts) are increasingly being asked to take on more business-oriented tasks. These tasks can include communicating...
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Beware of the colleague or supplier who spends large amounts of time in meetings discussing the format, sequence, and wording of documents they will deliver and very little time on the actual content. Strategically, substance is what counts. In this issue of Strategic Software Engineering I will point to some common problems when form becomes a hig...
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Some days, you wish you had telepathy. You just know that your development staff is holding back in some way, but you don’t know how to get them to communicate. Is the project in trouble, but they’re afraid to tell you? Since your software development staff won’t tell you what they’re really thinking, I asked them to confide in us instead. I pose...
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This article proposes innovative ways to combine three of the most important methodologies that have emerged in the past decade in the field of information systems architecture: UML, RUP, and the Zachman Framework. Over the past decade, the advantages of using the Unified Modeling Language (UML) for modeling software applications have become clea...
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Author: Derrick Brown and Jan Kusiak This extract from IRM’s training material looks at how systematic, creative thinking techniques can be used to design practical solutions to business problems. The first step in developing a solution is to identify and define the problem - see the IRM paper Problem Analysis Techniques. Using the problem definit...
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The research work of Wil van der Aalst, Arthur ter Hofstede, Bartek Kiepuszewski, and Alistair Barros has resulted in the identification of 21 patterns that describe the behavior of business processes. This paper reviews how two graphical process modeling notations, the BPMN Business Process Diagram from the Business Process Management Initiative...
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