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The most important requirement for a successful project is to define requirements clearly… No, we are not playing with words (Part 2)

This entry is part 6 of 13 in the series Software Project Development Made Simple and Scientific

Previous Article in this Series
The most important requirement for a successful project is to define requirements clearly…
No, we are not playing with words (Part 1)

Now that you have created a detailed document with features, it is advisable for you to create a traceability matrix (like the one shown below) in an Excel file matching each feature or functionality (in a column) to a requirement (in a row). This will ensure that all requirements are met.

Feature\Requirement 1 2 3 4
1 X
2 X
2.1 X
2.2 X
2.2.1 X X

This will also help you quickly identify which features are impacted when a change in a requirement is sought. Any time a change is effected in the requirements, refer to the matrix to identify the features impacted by the change and make appropriate modifications to the spec.

Do keep track of all changes as and when they happen. Changes are inevitable and how you manage them will dictate the success or failure of your project.

Many tools are available to manage requirements although web-based, easy-to-use tools are still not common.

Tracer is a freeware tool that is extremely simple to use. It requires the users to upload documents such as System Requirements Spec, System Design Specs, Test Plan and other miscellaneous docs, and generates a traceability report. The process is somewhat cumbersome, though.

Other tools range from the freeware Tiger Pro to commercial packages such as the popular Telelogic (now IBM) DOORS.

You must, however, understand that any tool will help you manage requirements well only if you write them well.

The best value can be obtained if only a single requirement (or for that matter, feature) is written per numbered item, as described in the examples in the previous article. The moment multiple requirements or features become part of a single statement or numbered item in the list, your risk of project failure increases greatly.

Also, it is advised that you create a combination of written specs, and visual wireframes, storyboards or prototypes. Remember! A picture is worth a thousand words… but all words are not captured in a picture either.

There are numerous tools available to create visual flows. MS Visio is probably the best known. There are other tools available that are able to create working, interactive prototypes to help you and the customer be on the same page and refine and finalize the specs quickly. These certainly are a better alternative to static wireframes, storyboards or mockups.

Axure and iRise are a couple of prototyping tools that can help speed up project delivery while helping minimize the gap in requirements understanding.

The importance of this cannot be stressed enough as the gap in requirements understanding contributes to a high percentage of software project failures.

As mentioned earlier, watch this space for how Celeroo achieves this in a simple yet elegant manner. With Celeroo, you will not get just a prototype; you will get an Allmostapp. You can subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates on launch dates, features, benefits etc., in addition to notifications on informative articles that we will be posting here regularly.

Disclaimer: We are not related to any of the companies offering the software tools we have referred to in this article.

Next Article in this Series
Plan well: Online project management tool & software review


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