Requirements Management and Communication (BABOK KA)

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Is documentation a blessing or a curse? If you’re working on an agile project does it get in the way? If you’re updating a core system that runs your company’s business, are you cursing the analyst who didn’t adequately document all the business functionality? Is today’s agile project tomorrow’s core system?

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Thousands of business analysts have turned to software visualization from as a strategy to simplify their jobs and cut through the confusion. With iRise, business analysts are empowered to quickly assemble a high-fidelity working preview of an application before development ever begins. These visualizations look and act just like the final product, creating an accurate visual model for what to build.

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A user of almost any given software system or business application will require precise analytics in order to objectively measure its effectiveness, or the effectiveness of an associated product. These analytics –or reports—therefore, must measure the right criteria at the right time(s) in the right way in order to be useful to the user. For that reason, any newly proposed reporting function requires careful, measured, thoughtful and thoroughly vetted requirements in order to ensure its efficacy.

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For projects that may well be delivered by Service Oriented Architecture (possibly using Service Oriented Analysis), I would suggest that you may need to consider different or additional ways of documenting your requirements and specifications. The reason for this is that the way you shape your requirements needs to encompass both the holistic nature of SOA, as well as the new terminology and delivery mechanisms.

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 Adult children. Jumbo shrimp. Seriously funny. I’m sure you recognize these expressions as oxymorons—self-contradictory phrases, often with an ironic meaning.  Should we add “agile requirements” to the list? Does agile development fit in with traditional requirements practices? And if so, how?
 

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Like it or not, every business analyst will have to stand up in front of a group and present. The group might be your business clients, the project stakeholders or just your fellow team members but for many people, one of two things will happen: it will frighten the life out of them OR they’ll umm and ah their way through, sending the audience to sleep.  Why is this so?
 

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The product backlog is a beautifully simple artifact – a prioritized list of the outstanding work necessary to bring the product to life. To work with the product backlog effectively, it needs regular attention and care; it needs to be carefully managed, or groomed. Business analysts can play an important role to ensure that this is done well.

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Excellent 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.

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The voluminous amounts of information that an analyst collects during the discovery and elicitation phases warrant a good deal of planning and organization in order to make business or user requirements into a usable, cohesive whole. As with any other organization process, the key element to requirements’ organization success is thorough preparation and planning.

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 You remember the game of telephone, right? The test of communication skills where one person whispers a message to his neighbor, and that message is translated multiple times from person to person until eventually, the last contestant repeats her interpreted message aloud. The goal is for the final person in the chain to correctly hear the original message, but invariably, there is laughter all around as the message is misconstrued.

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In agile projects, you deliver the product in a series of successive and sensibly staged releases. Each release represents the culmination of a series of requirements decisions... One of your biggest challenges is ongoing-how to group and sequence requirements for optimal delivery. Let's take a look at adapting requirements workshops to meet that challenge.

 

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Given the economic downturn, "cheaper, better, faster" seems to be a universal mantra in business. To stay competitive, organizations must continually strive to be more agile and develop higher-quality solutions more quickly-despite obstacles such as geographically distributed teams, limited budgets and resources, quick delivery times, language barriers and government regulations. These challenges require teams to consider new ways of doing business so they can be more responsive to frequent business changes.

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As the process of capturing and documenting business requirements matures, there is often a watershed moment when an organization must decide whether to perform traceability of requirements as part of that process. Most companies involved with a formal methodology for software development utilize some degree of traceability; but those not familiar with it could be put off by the overhead of requirements management (RM), of which traceability is a component. Therefore, it helps to understand some of the value aspects of instituting traceability.

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For almost every analyst, the day comes when you write a set of requirements that causes engineers to bemoan a recent development project that they just coded. "If only we'd known that you wanted to build this, we would have made the last project more flexible. Now we've hardcoded in changes that will take days to rebuild."

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In Part 1 of  this article, I talked about the new skills and attitudes business analysts need to bring to agile development... Now it's time to talk specifics. What exactly do BAs do in agile development? How will your activities differ from those of traditional development? Let's take a look at agile business analysis from the perspective of the activities that make up requirements development and management, comparing traditional with agile analysis.
 

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