Tuesday, February 13, 2007

REAL Requirements

Robin F. Goldsmith gets (registration required) it. Sorting through the maze of so-called business requirements, system requirements, functional specifications, and software requirements, he counsels us about what the REAL requirements are:

REAL requirements are business requirements, which are in business terms and are what must be delivered to provide value.
He then remarks that what many in the requirements community call "system", "software", or "product" requirements are in fact design:
System requirements represent a human-defined product or system which presumably is one of the possible ways presumably how to accomplish the presumed REAL business requirements. As such, system requirements actually are a form of high-level design.
Finally, Goldsmith tells us that failing to recognize that so-called system/software/product requirements are in fact design has practical negative consequences:
The primary reason products/systems don’t satisfy the REAL business requirements is because the REAL business requirements have not been defined adequately. In turn, the primary reason the REAL business requirements are not defined adequately is because conventional requirements models mislead people into believing that system requirements are the requirements and thus warrant all the attention.
Confusion over requirements concepts is not just a semantic or academic issue. Goldsmith recognizes that product development organizations are losing sight of what a product really must do and be to create value.

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