Articles

These are some of the articles that we have written or borrowed (with permission) on requirements and software development topics.

Business Analysis: Turning Gloop into Concrete by Suzanne & James Robertson

Business analysis is often seen as a technical skill. But the business analyst has another set of responsibilities -- to dig into what the stakeholder's mind and uncover what is really needed, and not just what they say they want. This requires different skills: knowing what questions to ask, dealing with vagueness, listening and providing feedback, knowing how to recognise and respond to the behaviour of individuals. This article discusses why successful business analysts combine hard and soft skills.

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Certification of Business Analysts - some options by James Robertson

There are various ways of becoming certified, and various organisations that offer certification. This summarises the best options, and is intended to be an objective but brief look at certification options. 


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User Story Considered Harmful by James & Suzanne Robertson

The user story has some serious problems when it comes to finding the real requirements for the business. Here the authors discuss why the user story has problems, and look at a better way to write stories. 

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Volere – the Evolution of Successful Requirements Techniques by Suzanne Robertson

A short history of software, requirements and the Volere contribution. 

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The Thinking Meeting by Suzanne Robertson & James Robertson

We use meetings as a way of getting a group of people together to share knowledge, information and ideas and to make decisions. However, meetings are often criticised (especially by participants) as a waste of time and a barrier to getting work done. A thinking meeting is a technique for overcoming some of these barriers to making a meeting effective. The thinking meeting uses techniques that ensure that everyone is heard and that all the participants are engaged in the meeting.

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What does "value" mean to the business analyst? by Suzanne Robertson & James Robertson

The current newsletter discusses value, and how the business analyst can deliver it by better understanding of the real need. 

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Rationale for Rationale by Suzanne and James Robertson

This is the 11th article in the series that explains the Volere requirements techniques. This article focuses on why, when you ask for a requirement, people give you solutions, and what you can do to get the real requirement.

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The Requirements Food Chain by Suzanne and James Robertson

This article explores how the originators and consumers of requirements interact with each other as the requirement matures. It looks at how different roles contribute to the correctness, suitability and completeness of the requirement.

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Requirements Management: a core competency for project and program success by Project Management Institute

The Project Management Institute have recognised the connection between project management and requirements. In May 2014 they published a report "Pulse of the Profession, Requirements Management: A core competency for Project and Program Success".

Among other interesting findings, the study revealed that “inaccurate requirements gathering” remained a primary cause of project failure (37 percent) in 2014 (up from 32 percent in 2013). The places where organisations are typically falling short are: People (skills and resources), Process (not having a consistent one), Culture (not having enough value put on requirements at the top of the organisation).

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Requirements Management: a core competency for project and program success by Project Management Institute

The Project Management Institute have recognised the connection between project management and requirements. In May 2014 they published a report "Pulse of the Profession, Requirements Management: A core competency for Project and Program Success".

Among other interesting findings, the study revealed that “inaccurate requirements gathering” remained a primary cause of project failure (37 percent) in 2014 (up from 32 percent in 2013). The places where organisations are typically falling short are: People (skills and resources), Process (not having a consistent one), Culture (not having enough value put on requirements at the top of the organisation).

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Crossing the Agile Divide: Scrum or Kanban? by Johanna Rothman, Scott W. Ambler, Suzanne Robertson, Ron Jeffries, Peter Kaminski, Israel Gat, Hubert Smits, and Hillel Glazer

Suzanne Robertson is one of the Agile Experts who discuss the subject of Scrum versus Kanban. The report is published by the Cutter Consortium and they have kindly made it available to readers of our web site at http://www.cutter.com/offers/agiledivide.html The lead author, Johanna Rothman, sets forth her argument that one is not necessarily better than the other; they are just different and it's up to the organization to figure out which method is best under which circumstance. In response, seven of Cutter's Agile experts discuss their views on crossing the Agile divide.

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Bells, Whistles, Power, and the Requirements Process by Tom DeMarco

"As we add new technological tools to our development process, our work becomes less, not more, technological in its focus." Read Tom DeMarco's article pubished in IEEE Software about requirements and the changes happening in our industry.

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Conversations with Martians by James Robertson

A toungue-in-cheek look at requirements.

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Reusing Requirements: Taking Advantage of What You Know by Suzanne Robertson

This article summarises work that was started in the late 1990's to explore how to make requirements knowledge reusable. Our growing sophistication with the use of data, process and state models means that reuse of analysis artefacts becomes more possible.

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Podcast: Interview with Freek Leemhuis and Maarten Metz of Devnology. by James Robertson

In this podcast James speaks of his experience in the profession of architecture and how it provides inspiration for his work on innovation and creativity. The discussion also covers some requirements techniques and how they can be used in software engineering projects. He also discusses the role of the business analyst in agile teams.

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Admired Characteristics of Business Analysts by James Archer

In October 2012 as part of his research into the role and qualifications of business analysts, James Archer conducted a survey to discover the most admired characteristics of business analysts. This is a summary of the survey results.

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Software Requirements and The Ethics Of Software Engineering by Capers Jones

For many years one common definition of quality has been “conformance to requirements.” However this definition ignores the fact that some requirements are hazardous or “toxic” and should not be included in software applications.

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Models or Natural Language, which is best for requirements? by Suzanne & James Robertson

The ninth article in the Volere series looks at pros and cons of different forms of requirements and how to combine them.

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Requirements in Agile Projects by Suzanne & James Robertson

An interview of Suzanne and James by Neil Maiden for SE Radio. Please do not listen if you are an Agile "True Believer", this is for the pragmatic business analyst.

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Ten Tests for Requirements by Suzanne & James Robertson

Requirements are not automatically correct just because you write them. This explores how they can be tested for correctness.

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Fear of Failure by James Robertson

An article on why fear in the workplace inhibits innovation; how good ideas are not voiced when business analysts and other stakeholders feel that they risk ridicule by voicing half baked but innovative ideas.

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Is Agile Shortchanging the Business? by James & Suzanne Robertson

A new article in Cutter Consortium's Agile Product & Project Management Advisory Service, by James & Suzanne Robertson. This report courtesy of Cutter Consortium. 

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The Business Analyst Working with the Project Manager by Interview with Suzanne Robertson

Requirements and project management have many connections. In this intervew Suzanne Robertson talks to Penny Pullan about effective collaboration between business analysts and project managers.

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Simplicity and Requirements by Suzanne Robertson

In today’s world of system development we are increasingly concerned with being more agile, with having a lean approach, with delivering value more quickly. This involves careful thinking and requirements gathering in order to make the software simple.

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Volere Agility by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson

The eighth article in the Volere series looks at requirements and the agile world.

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Use Cases for Useful Points of View by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson

This is the seventh article in the series that explains the thinking behind the Volere requirements techniques. This one explores productive ways of using use cases to help you find requirements.

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Pecha Kucha by James Robertson

A short article on pecha kucha presentations. We use these to make short subjects interesting, and to avoid death by PowerPoint.

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UML and the Cost of Defects by Stephen Mellor

It is common knowledge that software defects, especially in embedded systems, are expensive to repair; less well appreciated is just how very expensive it is, especially for requirements defects. This paper outlines these costs and how they depend on the development process.

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Atomic Requirements: where the rubber hits the road by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson

This is the sixth article in the series that explains the thinking behind the Volere requirements techniques. This one looks at the most granular level of requirements.

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World-class Business Analyst? by Tim Lister

Tim Lister sets down the skills, characteristics, and talents of the perfect business analyst.

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How Now Brown Cow by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson

This is the fifth article in a series that explains the thinking behind the Volere requirements techniques. Subsequent articles will explore various aspects of applying these techniques in your environment.

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Why is Innovation so Hard? by James Robertson

It appears that innovation is hard to do. It is not, but coming up with the good ideas is the easiest part.

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Provoking Creativity: Imagine What Your Requirements Could Be Like by Neil Maiden, Alexis Gizikis and Suzanne Robertson

This article was selected by IEEE Software magazine as one of the Top Picks for influential articles over the 25 years of IEEE Software.

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Requirements - a socio-technical discipline by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson

This is the fourth article in a series that explains the thinking behind the Volere requirements techniques.

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Requirements for Managing Requirements by Suzanne Robertson, Published by Cutter Consortium.

This report works through the Volere requirements knowledge model. This illustrates how some degree of formality opens the door to making choices appropriate for each individual project and leads towards the ability to reuse requirements.

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From Business Event to BUC by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson

This is the third in a series of articles on the Volere requirements techniques and explains how the business analysts translates a business need into a system scenario.

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Work Scope and Product Scope: Why Both? by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson

This is the second in a series of articles explaining the Volere requirements techniques.

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Volere Requirements Techniques: an Overview by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson

This is the first article in a series that explains the thinking behind the Volere requirements techniques. Subsequent articles will explore the practicalities of applying these techniques in your environment.

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Requirements Auditing: Is the Specification Fit For its Purpose? by Suzanne Robertson

How do you know whether the requirements specification is fit for its intended purpose? How do you know whether it is a good specification?

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The (Proto)type of requirements thinking at IAG by Andrew Kendall

Andrew Kendall is a senior business analyst at Insurance Australia Group, one of the largest insurance organisations in Australia. In this article Andrew discusses an approach to Volere requirements gathering.

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Volere Requirements: How to Get Started by Suzanne and James Robertson

In response to many requests, we felt that it was time to produce a guide to how to make a start using the Volere approach to improving your requirements.

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Stakeholders, Goals, Scope: The Foundation for Requirements and Business Models by Suzannne Robertson

This article summarises experiences in using the Stakeholder, Goal, Scope approach as well as providing some new guidelines for using a variety of business analysis models for discovering requirements.

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Know Your Goals by Ian Alexander

Some requirements people talk about Goals only in the sense of 'vague, unachievable, high-level aspirations'; others seem to mean almost the same as requirements, while scenario and Use Case people say that every scenario has a Goal. So it's understandable that newcomers often get confused and avoid the whole subject. But a Goal has a definite meaning to footballers, engineers, biologists, and psychologists, and it is a meaning that is very useful in systems development.

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