Posted by tac_admin, August 15, 2012

Characteristics of Excellent Requirements

As a business analyst, part of your job is to ensure you have excellent requirements, not just a “wish list” from the business. You can do that by following these guidelines for requirements characteristics that make a requirement excellent.

  • Correct – They accurately reflect the real needs of users and business stakeholders.
  • Complete – They include all of the necessary elements; functionality, external interfaces, internal interfaces, design constraint, and quality attributes.
  • Clear – they are understood by all stakeholders without the need for extensive explanation.
  • Consistent – They do not conflict with other requirements (conflicting requirements should be addressed ASAP in the requirements elicitation process).
  • Relevant – This may seem obvious, but it is sometimes easy to get off-track and you can end up with requirements that are not necessary for that particular project. To avoid this, make sure the requirements meet a business need, goal, or objective.
  • Verifiable – There must be way to verify if the requirement is satisfied. A requirement that says “Users should be able to move more quickly between screens”  is not verifiable. What does “more quickly” mean? It’s too subjective. A verifiable requirement would be “the system should take no more than 1.2 seconds to move between each screen”.
  • Feasible – I go back and forth on whether or not feasible should be in this list. We generally say “anything is possible with enough money, time, and resources”. So what does feasible mean? Feasible within those constraints for the project? Feasible as in “is it possible at all to do this”? Or as in “will technology support the ability to meet this requirement”?

If you want to include feasible in your criteria for excellent requirements, you should first define what feasible means for your project.

3 responses to “Characteristics of Excellent Requirements”

  1. Nutankumar says:

    Hi Teresa,
    One can have this checklist to verify their requirements.
    I would be grateful if you elaborate all this points through an example for better understanding.

    • Teresa Bennett says:

      This post has examples related to Verifiable and Feasible. An easy example that covers Correct, Complete, and Clear can be seen in the following grocery list example:
      A loaf of bread
      Orange juice
      A box of cereal

      This seems like a concise, clear, and complete list. But what kind of milk? Whole, 2%, skim? What kind of bread? White, wholewheat? Orange juice with lots of pulp, no pulp, or some pulp? What kind of cereal? Wheaties, raisin bran? A tub of butter, sticks of butter?
      I generally say that if you look at a requirement and you find yourself assuming multiple things or even one thing, then the requirement isn’t clear or complete. There should be nothing left to interpretation or assumption.

      As for conflicting requirements – here’s an example of that:

      You have an installer that says he has to have widget A stored in the warehouse. The warehouse manager says he cannot store widget A in the warehouse because he has a requirement to reduce inventory storage costs and widget A is a large item that would require too much storage space. As the BA, you would negotiate these requirements to come up with a compromise that meets both group’s needs. In the end, you might end up with the warehouse manager agreeing to store a minimum number of widget As in the warehouse to allow for an emergency supply. This will satisfy the need to have some on hand, but not take up too much room to cause the warehouse manager to not meet his obligation to reduce storage costs.

  2. Nutankumar says:

    Thank you for detailed response. I am find this blogs more informative and interesting 🙂

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