September 23, 2013

Requirements That Miss The Mark

Should we aim for the center of the target? Or something else?

For your reading pleasure today, here is a short rant quiz.

Question: Which of these are a good foundation upon which to craft the Requirements for a new software product/release? copyrightjoestrazzere
  1. What will allow us to use the latest and greatest technology?
  2. What we can draw a pretty UI for?
  3. What will be the most fun?
  4. What we already happen to have data for?
  5. What we think the customer needs?
  6. What the customer thinks he needs?
  7. What we can build, as long as we don't ever need to actually complete it?
  8. What we can accomplish with the current staff?
  9. What we can get accomplish in a short period of time?
  10. What the customer/market is actually willing to pay for?
Answer: In almost all cases, the only correct answer is "10. What the customer/market is actually willing to pay for".

In a for-profit company, you need to figure out what can make money. Pretty much everything else is missing the point, don't you think?

Any other "off-target" themes you have seen in Requirements recently?

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
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  1. One quibble and one confirmation.
    The quibble: I am totally on board with your point that the purpose of a for-profit software company is to sell software. The strategy not clearly addressed by that list is building something you think the customer will want once they see it, but they don't know it yet (e.g., Apple's strategy)
    In confirmation, I have been in meetings in my younger years (before I had the chutzpah to interject) where "strategic" management were rating projects by criteria like performance, high-tech-ness, leading-edge-ness, etc., rather than what do customers in this market want/need. Of course, they were all engineers hung up on what they could do or wanted to do as opposed to should do.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Sean! I completely agree.

    Apple builds products that they believe customer will want *and will pay for* once they see them.