Requirements management

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Requirements management is the process of documenting, analyzing, tracing, prioritizing and agreeing on requirements and then controlling change and communicating to relevant stakeholders. It is a continuous process throughout a project. A requirement is a capability to which a project outcome (product or service) should conform.

Contents

Overview

The purpose of requirements management is to ensure that an organization documents, verifies, and meets the needs and expectations of its customers and internal or external stakeholders. [1] Requirements management begins with the analysis and elicitation of the objectives and constraints of the organization. Requirements management further includes supporting planning for requirements, integrating requirements and the organization for working with them (attributes for requirements), as well as relationships with other information delivering against requirements, and changes for these.

The traceability thus established is used in managing requirements to report back fulfilment of company and stakeholder interests in terms of compliance, completeness, coverage, and consistency. Traceabilities also support change management as part of requirements management in understanding the impacts of changes through requirements or other related elements (e.g., functional impacts through relations to functional architecture), and facilitating introducing these changes. [2]

Requirements management involves communication between the project team members and stakeholders, and adjustment to requirements changes throughout the course of the project. [3] To prevent one class of requirements from overriding another, constant communication among members of the development team is critical. For example, in software development for internal applications, the business has such strong needs that it may ignore user requirements, or believe that in creating use cases, the user requirements are being taken care of.

Traceability

Requirements traceability is concerned with documenting the life of a requirement. [4] It should be possible to trace back to the origin of each requirement and every change made to the requirement should therefore be documented in order to achieve traceability. [5] Even the use of the requirement after the implemented features have been deployed and used should be traceable. [5]

Requirements come from different sources, like the business person ordering the product, the marketing manager and the actual user. These people all have different requirements for the product. Using requirements traceability, an implemented feature can be traced back to the person or group that wanted it during the requirements elicitation. This can, for example, be used during the development process to prioritize the requirement, [6] determining how valuable the requirement is to a specific user. It can also be used after the deployment when user studies show that a feature is not used, to see why it was required in the first place.

Requirements activities

At each stage in a development process, there are key requirements management activities and methods. To illustrate, consider a standard five-phase development process with Investigation, Feasibility, Design, Construction and Test, and Release stages.

Investigation

In Investigation, the first three classes of requirements are gathered from the users, from the business and from the development team. In each area, similar questions are asked; what are the goals, what are the constraints, what are the current tools or processes in place, and so on. Only when these requirements are well understood can functional requirements be developed.

In the common case, requirements cannot be fully defined at the beginning of the project. Some requirements will change, either because they simply weren’t extracted, or because internal or external forces at work affect the project in mid-cycle.

The deliverable from the Investigation stage is a requirements document that has been approved by all members of the team. Later, in the thick of development, this document will be critical in preventing scope creep or unnecessary changes. As the system develops, each new feature opens a world of new possibilities, so the requirements specification anchors the team to the original vision and permits a controlled discussion of scope change.[ citation needed ]

While many organizations still use only documents to manage requirements, others manage their requirements baselines using software tools. These tools allow requirements to be managed in a database, and usually have functions to automate traceability (e.g., by allowing electronic links to be created between parent and child requirements, or between test cases and requirements), electronic baseline creation, version control, and change management. Usually such tools contain an export function that allows a specification document to be created by exporting the requirements data into a standard document application.[ citation needed ]

Feasibility

In the Feasibility stage, costs of the requirements are determined. For user requirements, the current cost of work is compared to the future projected costs once the new system is in place. Questions such as these are asked: “What are data entry errors costing us now?” Or “What is the cost of scrap due to operator error with the current interface?” Actually, the need for the new tool is often recognized as these questions come to the attention of financial people in the organization.

Business costs would include, “What department has the budget for this?” “What is the expected rate of return on the new product in the marketplace?” “What’s the internal rate of return in reducing costs of training and support if we make a new, easier-to-use system?”

Technical costs are related to software development costs and hardware costs. “Do we have the right people to create the tool?” “Do we need new equipment to support expanded software roles?” This last question is an important type. The team must inquire into whether the newest automated tools will add sufficient processing power to shift some of the burden from the user to the system in order to save people time.

The question also points out a fundamental point about requirements management. A human and a tool form a system, and this realization is especially important if the tool is a computer or a new application on a computer. The human mind excels in parallel processing and interpretation of trends with insufficient data. The CPU excels in serial processing and accurate mathematical computation. The overarching goal of the requirements management effort for a software project would thus be to make sure the work being automated gets assigned to the proper processor. For instance, “Don’t make the human remember where she is in the interface. Make the interface report the human’s location in the system at all times.” Or “Don’t make the human enter the same data in two screens. Make the system store the data and fill in the second screen as needed.”

The deliverable from the Feasibility stage is the budget and schedule for the project.

Design

Assuming that costs are accurately determined and benefits to be gained are sufficiently large, the project can proceed to the Design stage. In Design, the main requirements management activity is comparing the results of the design against the requirements document to make sure that work is staying in scope.

Again, flexibility is paramount to success. Here’s a classic story of scope change in mid-stream that actually worked well. Ford auto designers in the early ‘80s were expecting gasoline prices to hit $3.18 per gallon by the end of the decade. Midway through the design of the Ford Taurus, prices had centered to around $1.50 a gallon. The design team decided they could build a larger, more comfortable, and more powerful car if the gas prices stayed low, so they redesigned the car. The Taurus launch set nationwide sales records when the new car came out, primarily because it was so roomy and comfortable to drive.

In most cases, however, departing from the original requirements to that degree does not work. So the requirements document becomes a critical tool that helps the team make decisions about design changes. [7]

Construction and test

In the construction and testing stage, the main activity of requirements management is to make sure that work and cost stay within schedule and budget, and that the emerging tool does in fact meet requirements. A main tool used in this stage is prototype construction and iterative testing. For a software application, the user interface can be created on paper and tested with potential users while the framework of the software is being built. Results of these tests are recorded in a user interface design guide and handed off to the design team when they are ready to develop the interface. This saves their time and makes their jobs much easier.

Verification: This effort verifies that the requirement has been implemented correctly. There are 4 methods of verification: analysis, inspection, testing, and demonstration. Numerical software execution results or through-put on a network test, for example, provides analytical evidence that the requirement has been met. Inspection of vendor documentation or spec sheets also verifies requirements. Actually testing or demonstrating the software in a lab environment also verifies the requirements: a test type of verification will occur when test equipment not normally part of the lab (or system under test) is used. Comprehensive test procedures which outline the steps and their expected results clearly identify what is to be seen as a result of performing the step. After the step or set of steps is completed the last step's expected result will call out what has been seen and then identify what requirement or requirements have been verified (identified by number). The requirement number, title and verbiage are tied together in another location in the test document.

Requirements change management

Hardly would any software development project be completed without some changes being asked of the project. The changes can stem from changes in the environment in which the finished product is envisaged to be used, business changes, regulation changes, errors in the original definition of requirements, limitations in technology, changes in the security environment and so on. The activities of requirements change management include receiving the change requests from the stakeholders, recording the received change requests, analyzing and determining the desirability and process of implementation, implementation of the change request, quality assurance for the implementation and closing the change request. Then the data of change requests be compiled, analyzed and appropriate metrics are derived and dovetailed into the organizational knowledge repository. [8]

Release

Requirements management does not end with product release. From that point on, the data coming in about the application’s acceptability is gathered and fed into the Investigation phase of the next generation or release. Thus the process begins again.

Tooling

Acquiring a tool to support requirements management is no trivial matter and it needs to be undertaken as part of a broader process improvement initiative. It has long been a perception that a tool, once acquired and installed on a project, can address all of its requirements management-related needs. However, the purchase or development of a tool to support requirements management can be a costly decision. Organizations may get burdened with expensive support contracts, disproportionate effort can get misdirected towards learning to use the tool and configuring it to address particular needs, and inappropriate use that can lead to erroneous decisions. Organizations should follow an incremental process to make decisions about tools to support their particular needs from within the wider context of their development process and tooling. [9] The tools are presented in Requirements traceability.

See also

Related Research Articles

Software testing is an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the software product or service under test. Software testing can also provide an objective, independent view of the software to allow the business to appreciate and understand the risks of software implementation. Test techniques include the process of executing a program or application with the intent of finding failures, and verifying that the software product is fit for use.

Configuration management

Configuration management (CM) is a systems engineering process for establishing and maintaining consistency of a product's performance, functional, and physical attributes with its requirements, design, and operational information throughout its life. The CM process is widely used by military engineering organizations to manage changes throughout the system lifecycle of complex systems, such as weapon systems, military vehicles, and information systems. Outside the military, the CM process is also used with IT service management as defined by ITIL, and with other domain models in the civil engineering and other industrial engineering segments such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings.

The Rational Unified Process (RUP) is an iterative software development process framework created by the Rational Software Corporation, a division of IBM since 2003. RUP is not a single concrete prescriptive process, but rather an adaptable process framework, intended to be tailored by the development organizations and software project teams that will select the elements of the process that are appropriate for their needs. RUP is a specific implementation of the Unified Process.

In software development, a traceability matrix (TM) is a document, usually in the form of a table, used to assist in determining the completeness of a relationship by correlating any two baselined documents using a many-to-many relationship comparison. It is often used with high-level requirements and detailed requirements of the product to the matching parts of high-level design, detailed design, test plan, and test cases.

Avionics software is embedded software with legally mandated safety and reliability concerns used in avionics. The main difference between avionic software and conventional embedded software is that the development process is required by law and is optimized for safety. It is claimed that the process described below is only slightly slower and more costly than the normal ad hoc processes used for commercial software. Since most software fails because of mistakes, eliminating the mistakes at the earliest possible step is also a relatively inexpensive and reliable way to produce software. In some projects however, mistakes in the specifications may not be detected until deployment. At that point, they can be very expensive to fix.

Requirements analysis Engineering process

In systems engineering and software engineering, requirements analysis focuses on the tasks that determine the needs or conditions to meet the new or altered product or project, taking account of the possibly conflicting requirements of the various stakeholders, analyzing, documenting, validating and managing software or system requirements.

In product development and process optimization, a requirement is a singular documented physical or functional need that a particular design, product or process aims to satisfy. It is commonly used in a formal sense in engineering design, including for example in systems engineering, software engineering, or enterprise engineering. It is a broad concept that could speak to any necessary function, attribute, capability, characteristic, or quality of a system for it to have value and utility to a customer, organization, internal user, or other stakeholder. Requirements can come with different levels of specificity; for example, a requirement specification or requirement "spec" refers to an explicit, highly objective/clear requirement to be satisfied by a material, design, product, or service.

Systems development life cycle Systems engineering term

In systems engineering, information systems and software engineering, the software development life cycle (SDLC), also referred to as the application development life-cycle, is a process for planning, creating, testing, and deploying an information system. The systems development life cycle concept applies to a range of hardware and software configurations, as a system can be composed of hardware only, software only, or a combination of both. There are usually six stages in this cycle: requirement analysis, design, development and testing, implementation, documentation, and evaluation.

In software project management, software testing, and software engineering, verification and validation (V&V) is the process of checking that a software system meets specifications and requirements so that it fulfills its intended purpose. It may also be referred to as software quality control. It is normally the responsibility of software testers as part of the software development lifecycle. In simple terms, software verification is: "Assuming we should build X, does our software achieve its goals without any bugs or gaps?" On the other hand, software validation is: "Was X what we should have built? Does X meet the high level requirements?"

A software requirements specification (SRS) is a description of a software system to be developed. It is modeled after business requirements specification(CONOPS), also known as a stakeholder requirements specification (StRS). The software requirements specification lays out functional and non-functional requirements, and it may include a set of use cases that describe user interactions that the software must provide to the user for perfect interaction.

Software prototyping is the activity of creating prototypes of software applications, i.e., incomplete versions of the software program being developed. It is an activity that can occur in software development and is comparable to prototyping as known from other fields, such as mechanical engineering or manufacturing.

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process level improvement training and appraisal program. Administered by the CMMI Institute, a subsidiary of ISACA, it was developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). It is required by many U.S. Government contracts, especially in software development. CMU claims CMMI can be used to guide process improvement across a project, division, or an entire organization. CMMI defines the following maturity levels for processes: Initial, Managed, Defined, Quantitatively Managed, and Optimizing. Version 2.0 was published in 2018. CMMI is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by CMU.

The Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) defines a Process Area as, "A cluster of related practices in an area that, when implemented collectively, satisfies a set of goals considered important for making improvement in that area." Both CMMI for Development v1.3 and CMMI for Acquisition v1.3 identify 22 process areas, whereas CMMI for Services v1.3 identifies 24 process areas. Many of the process areas are the same in these three models.

Software project management is an art and science of planning and leading software projects. It is a sub-discipline of project management in which software projects are planned, implemented, monitored and controlled.

Requirements traceability is a sub-discipline of requirements management within software development and systems engineering. Traceability as a general term is defined by the IEEE Systems and Software Engineering Vocabulary as (1) the degree to which a relationship can be established between two or more products of the development process, especially products having a predecessor-successor or master-subordinate relationship to one another; (2) the identification and documentation of derivation paths (upward) and allocation or flowdown paths (downward) of work products in the work product hierarchy; (3) the degree to which each element in a software development product establishes its reason for existing; and (4) discernible association among two or more logical entities, such as requirements, system elements, verifications, or tasks.

V-Model (software development)

In software development, the V-model represents a development process that may be considered an extension of the waterfall model, and is an example of the more general V-model. Instead of moving down in a linear way, the process steps are bent upwards after the coding phase, to form the typical V shape. The V-Model demonstrates the relationships between each phase of the development life cycle and its associated phase of testing. The horizontal and vertical axes represents time or project completeness (left-to-right) and level of abstraction, respectively.

The requirement for a system are the description of what the system should do, the service or services that it provides and the constraints on its operation. The IEEE Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology defines a requirement as:

  1. A condition or capability needed by a user to solve a problem or achieve an objective.
  2. A condition or capability that must be met or possessed by a system or system component to satisfy a contract, standard, specification, or other formally imposed document.
  3. A documented representation of a condition or capability as in 1 or 2.

In software engineering, a software development process is the process of dividing software development work into smaller, parallel or sequential steps or subprocesses to improve design, product management, and project management. It is also known as a software development life cycle (SDLC). The methodology may include the pre-definition of specific deliverables and artifacts that are created and completed by a project team to develop or maintain an application.

In-Step BLUE

in-STEP BLUE is a project management software program developed and sold by microTOOL GmbH, based in Berlin, Germany. It is designed to assist project managers in developing plans, assigning resources to tasks, tracking progress, managing budgets, requirements, changes and risks as well as analyzing workloads. The tool automatically stores all project results in a central repository shared by all users. Individual project management methods can be supported as well as the agile method Scrum, official methods like the British PRINCE2, the German V-Model XT, the Swiss HERMES method and methods for the automotive industry according to ISO/IEC 15504, also known as SPICE.

Business requirements, also known as stakeholder requirements specifications (StRS), describe the characteristics of a proposed system from the viewpoint of the system's end user like a CONOPS. Products, systems, software, and processes are ways of how to deliver, satisfy, or meet business requirements. Consequently, business requirements are often discussed in the context of developing or procuring software or other systems.

References

  1. Stellman, Andrew; Greene, Jennifer (2005). Applied Software Project Management. O'Reilly Media. ISBN   978-0-596-00948-9. Archived from the original on 2015-02-09.
  2. "Requirements management". UK Office of Government Commerce. Retrieved 2009-11-10.
  3. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (4th ed.). Project Management Institute. 2008. ISBN   978-1-933890-51-7.
  4. Gotel, O., Finkelstein, A. An Analysis of the Requirements Traceability Problem Proc. of First International Conference on Requirements Engineering, 1994, pages 94-101
  5. 1 2 Gotel, Orlena; Cleland-Huang, Jane; Hayes, Jane Huffman; Zisman, Andrea; Egyed, Alexander; Grünbacher, Paul; Dekhtyar, Alex; Antoniol, Giuliano; Maletic, Jonathan (2012-01-01). Cleland-Huang, Jane; Gotel, Orlena; Zisman, Andrea (eds.). Software and Systems Traceability . Springer London. pp.  3–22. doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-2239-5_1. ISBN   9781447122388.
  6. Rempel, Patrick; Mäder, Patrick (2015-03-23). Fricker, Samuel A.; Schneider, Kurt (eds.). Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Springer International Publishing. pp. 81–97. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-16101-3_6. ISBN   9783319161006.
  7. Ralph, P., and Wand, Y. A Proposal for a Formal Definition of the Design Concept. In, Lyytinen, K., Loucopoulos, P., Mylopoulos, J., and Robinson, W., (eds.), Design Requirements Engineering: A Ten-Year Perspective: Springer-Verlag, 2009, pp. 103-136
  8. Chemuturi, M. (2013). Requirements Engineering and Management for Software Development Projects. doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-5377-2. ISBN   978-1-4614-5376-5. S2CID   19818654.
  9. Gotel, Orlena; Mäder, Patrick (2012-01-01). Cleland-Huang, Jane; Gotel, Orlena; Zisman, Andrea (eds.). Software and Systems Traceability . Springer London. pp.  43–68. doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-2239-5_3. ISBN   9781447122388.

Further reading