When is a requirements pack not a requirements pack?

This is the second of the two work related blog posts that I spoke of, if you are here for Snowboarding related tales please feel free to visit the Red Moutain specific tag set.

I sat in a meeting towards the end of the Skunkworks project that I was working on and I was being asked about something, the subject of which I forget now, but the conversation led to how to make the projects more effective. I said that what was really needed was a 2 page document outlining the objectives of the project and what was needed to achieve them. At that point I was challenged, no, it was suggested to me that what I was talking about was actually a requirements pack. It wasn’t.

What I was talking about in that instance was a Business Justification Document, I personally think that any project, be it an internal one, relevant to a particular business area or a commercially focussed one, needs to have a sponsor, a Product Owner if you like, that is willing to say that I want to / need this piece of software because it will deliver this amount of value to my department / organistaion.

When we finally saw what was essentially the BJD (we had been calling it a proposition during the project) it focussed everyone’s minds. One thing that impressed me was that it had a bullet pointed list of 5 / 6 core features that had to be in the application before it launched, this was something that I had previously never seen in any documentation that the departments tasked with delivering IT based projects in this company had ever delivered (They had delivered requirements packs but they were long winded and some times difficult to comprehend, that is, in my opinion). These were the things that we had been waiting for, however, and this is this point that I was trying to make in the meeting and in fact now, I think each one would have been better delivered as a story. I am of the opinion that using stories help the person getting the information to engage with the Product Owner and that is why this post by Rachel Davies is interesting for that reason, Rachel, if she is who I think she is (excuse me if you are not), has been working across the road from us, furthermore, my boss has been spaeking to her about working with us (the prospect of which is exciting).

Before I left for my trip the department was on the cusp of managing a couple of projects using an Agile approach, I think some of the Project Managers are ready to see what that style of approach has to offer, it would be great to see some of the Business Analysts looking further in to this approach so as to combine our efforts, I for one think that using stories to gather requirements has a lot to offer. For anyone that is interested, I read Mike Cohn’s book, User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development which I thought was excellent.

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