Experiences of Volere Users

I was fortunate to receive training in the Volere Process back in 2007 while I was working as a Senior Business Analyst for Woolworths. Up until that time, I had been a business analyst for 4 years with no formal training in the skill of gathering or documenting business requirements, other than learning UML at university. My work was generally quite solution focused and filling out templates for the sake of producing a document.

The penny dropped after the first day of training with Suzanne. She gently guided us through the Volere process, which connected all the dots from beginning to end of what any BA needs to do to gather the right requirements. The ‘essence’ of a requirement is what to this day has helped differentiate my work from others, and led me to a successful career of 15 years working as a business analyst, using the Volere process as the guiding paradigm for all my work.

Volere is not about the template nor really just about requirements. It’s about understanding the business problem so that the requirements process can actually happen correctly. The Volere method makes it easier for discussion and provides techniques that can be used with stakeholders to analyse and describe what the solution needs to do in order for the business problem to be solved.

For business stakeholders, the requirements document is easy to read because it contains all the information they need in a top down manner – from the goals, objectives, stakeholders, right through to the diagrams describing the solution and the associated functional/non-functional requirements.

The key difficulties are shared amongst any requirements gathering efforts – business stakeholders love to talk about solutions. The Volere process help guide discussions away from solutions via the use of the context diagram, business events, and the partitioning of the work which leads to accurate descriptions of what the business needs to do in order to meet the objectives of the project.

Introducing the Volere process to an organization is best done through having a mini-project set up involving all the members of the BA practice. Both the business and the BA Practice need to change the way they work in order for the Volere process to be effectively embedded in an organization. Ideally, all BA practitioners should receive formal training of the Volere framework. The accompanying text – “Mastering the Requirements Process” – is a great book, however, in order to get all the BA practitioners on the one page, it would be best achieved through interactive, and collaborative training workshops with trained staff from the Atlantic Systems Guild.

My recommendation is that for any organization that wishes to improve the capability of their BA practitioners, is to organize Volere training.
Karim KhalifaToyota Finance Australia Limited
Volere techniques are not limited to Business Analysts and IT projects. In their Profitable Product Management course The Chartered Institute of Marketing will be making their delegates aware of the Volere Trawling Techniques. The purpose of the course is “This course develops analytical, strategic and tactical approaches to product management, enabling companies to compete sustainably and profitably in increasingly competitive business-to-business markets.
Julie Ling, CIM Learning and DevelopmentThe Chartered Institute of Marketing
As you are aware, I was busy applying my learning from the course on my current project Realising the Neighbourhood Justice Centre. The learning, information, techniques and resources that I took away fromthat course are proving to be invaluable. I completed my first Business requirements document last week. Thefeedback from my manager was so positive. His comments included 'You did a great job. This is the best requirements document this I have seen in the past 5 years. It is exactly the standard that I am expecting.It's what a requirements document should be and I'll be using this documentto show others what I expect from a requirements gathering exercise.'

This great result came about from your excellent training course and materials. Thank you so much for all your help

Gabriella MascaroVictorian Department of Justice
I wanted to drop you a note to let you know that your requirements process is excellent. I am a lead instructor at the University of California, Irvine as well as the president of No Limits Leadership, Inc., a project management consulting firm. At No Limits we provide a project management methodology called Project Ball, and have imbedded the Volere process for requirements into our system with great results. Having used your system for many years it is the only one that really offers a complete solution for gathering requirements in a way that does not become a project itself. We have used it on software, hardware, and various other IT related projects successfully. We feel confident approaching any project and facilitating the requirements process to the satisfaction of our clients. We appreciate the great work you have done and your willingness to share it with the rest of us. Thank you.
Allan ElderPresident No Limits Leadership, Inc. www.nolimitsleadership.com
Thanks for the helpful and enjoyable tutorial on Requirements and Creativityyou presented at the Requirements Engineering Conference in Kyoto. I was so inspired that I led a creativity workshop based onyour tutorial with my colleagues at the Open University. We all had a goodtime - everyone seemed to enjoy the exercises. And I got some very goodrequirements for a European project we're working on called ELeGI(www.elegi.org). It's not bad when you can have fun and get the job done atthe same time!

I presented the creative triggers first and then asked the participants tobrainstorm in small groups. Then I presented your experience using expertsgiving Neil Maiden's memorable performance at RE'04 as an example. ``Andy theauto mechanic``, our own expert, gave a 10 minute talk about how he performshis job. Then I asked the participants to come up with requirements makinganalogies between ``Andy's`` experiences and the domain we were studying.

Some participants thought that the order of the exercises should be reversedwhile others felt that the order was correct. Nevertheless, all of thegroups came up with useful requirements. My good experience with yourtechniques leads me to look forward to the next time I'm able to attend oneof your tutorials.

Thanks again.

Also check out the paper about my experiences using Volere I deliveredat the Requirements Engineering Conference in Kyoto in September 2004 http://mcs.open.ac.uk/dth46/

Debra HaleyThe Open University
I have used Volere on the following projects:

Migration of a logistics legacy application to Microsoft Navision (ERP system). We used Volere to analyse our needs.
At the company I work for we give computer courses (Excel, Word, ...). Each course room has to be installed with the right software for that course. We used Volere to set up the procedures for this process. The stakeholders who interact with ``the course preparation system`` are: trainers, trainees, the person who does the planning, the person who physically prepares the room, the person who installs the software on the PC's, etc...

Two websites projects
In September I'll start with the implementation of a few Navision modules to replace another application we have and I'll use Volere again! It's nice to see that even non-IT people understand the Volere concepts very well: goal(s) --> context diagram --> business events --> uses cases --> atomic requirements. The template makes it very easy to do it step by step.
Let me add that your Volere methodology is EXCELLENT! I took the course Mastering the Requirements Process in London in November 2002. I finished three projects using Volere. I can say that after 10 years I have finally found a methodology that is very well structured, is logical and easy to follow.

The power, to me, is that it focuses on only one thing: requirements. When this is done well, the rest follows (almost) naturally.

A.B. - Software EngineerName and company withheld at the author's request.
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your class you gave at Microsoft in October of last year. It has changed the way I look at projects, and has helped me to be 10 times more efficient and successful with gathering customer requirements, and conveying them to my development team. The framework has worked excellently, and we are establishing our own template which is based on your teachings.
C. McKinnonProgram Manager, Microsoft Corporation
I am using the Volere template and shell on a large, European project involving mobile technologies and lifelong learning. The template is a great way to ensure that all relevant areas have been considered. The shell is a convenient repository that ensures uniform and completely documented requirements. When filled out correctly, it is very specific and bridges the communication gap between users and developers. I found I needed to add two fields - status and miscellaneous. The status field reflects the state of completion of the requirement, e.g. incomplete, ready for review by quality gatekeeper, or accepted. The miscellaneous field can be used for whatever is needed for a particular requirement; it isn't always known at database creation time what extra field may be needed. For example, on our project we have 3 separate subsystems. Some requirements apply to one subsystem only, others to two subsystems, and others overlap all three subsystems. It's useful to note this information on a Volere shell.
Debra HaleyThe Open University
I worked on a project in which I used the Robertsons' Volere event-driven use case approach. Using DOORS we captured a use case model for the functional requirements and each of the use case steps was evaluated to check if any non-functional requirements applied (we used the Volere suggested categories plus a few of our own in another DOORS module). So in DOORS we just linked the functional requirement to the non-functional requirement(s) that were applicable. Because we used DOORS we didn't have to repeat the non-functional requirements - there was only one 'do it within 5 seconds' but it was linked to many functional requirements.

Furthermore, because we packaged the whole system as a hierarchy of use case packages, we found it was simplicity itself to apply a non-functional requirement to the whole system or part of the system, down to a single use case step.

There were a few drawbacks in that as you went up to the 'whole system' package the list of non-functionals got longer, (3 pages if I remember) but on the whole the client and the developer loved it. Any tool that allows the RE data to be linked in a similar fashion could be used I guess.

Colin WoodIndependent Consultant
We have applied the Volere requirement shell to specify stakeholder requirements for new European air traffic management systems. Its strength was its combination of simplicity with rigor - a wonderful characteristic of the whole Volere approach. Encouraging stakeholders to think about making their requirements testable changes the way that they think about requirements - for the better.
Dr Neil MaidenHead of Centre for HCI Design, City University London
This SAP project (Enterprise Systems Group `{`ESG`}` SAP Project) had built a budget for the development work being done this year for our SAP installation into Dublin, Ireland. We have only had to spend 53% of those dollars. Why? A much thorough job of requirements development was performed, resulting in the employment of less programming contractors. Without this concentration upon requirements, we would have consumed budget dollars employing additional programmers for the ``normal`` rework. To keep this apples to apples, in our budgeting we had estimated the number of possible designs we would be addressing. In fact, we had to address a slightly larger number, and did this with less programming resources.
John CapronWorldwide Systems Technology Manager, IBM Enterprise Systems Group,Poughkeepsie, N.Y
I just wanted to let you know that Michelle Weaver and I have been implementing most of what we learned in your seminar. OneBeacon recently adopted a new Development process that includes your requirements gathering methodology. Michelle and I have a definite advantage as the attempt is made to implement these new procedures (and attitudes).

I finished my first complete requirements document last week for an added functionality in an application I helped develop a little over a year ago. I think the level of detail and comprehensiveness surprised the IT management and the developer

Bruce HolmbeckBusiness Systems Analyst OneBeacon Insurance
Both under-graduate and post-graduate students at City University in London are now taught leading requirements engineering techniques including Volere. It has proved to be both accessible and easy-to-learn - a real winner with the students!
Dr Neil MaidenHead of Centre for HCI Design, City University London
I love the Volere requirements template! I have experience working as a customer relationship manager for software development companies and the Volere process has assisted me to work with development teams to convert ``what the customer really wants`` into successful and appropriate and workable systems. Attended a short course run by the Australian Computer Society a few years back, and have used it on two successful health informatics projects in Australian Divisions of General Practice to detail requirements for computerised decision support systems for asthma management and depression medication management . Stakeholders and clients appreciate the clarity and detail of the completed requirements document, development teams appreciate the detail gathered by the Volere process taking assumptions and guess work out of prototyping and product design.``

``I am currently using it to detail requirements for an electronic prescribing and decision support system to support reduction of medication errors and improve patient safety in a leading Australian cancer hospital.

Lenni Morkel-KingsburyProject Coordinator, Electronic Prescribing and Decision Support in Oncology Project , Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute
This is just a short note to let you know about the use of the Volere template on projects conducted by our Sydney branch. By way of introduction, We are an Australian-owned operation with computer-related revenue in excess of $200 million, We have more than 1,200 employees worldwide, servicing over 6,500 customers in 68 countries from 16 offices throughout Australia, Europe, Asia and North America.

I first became aware of your template when I attended your course about 3 years ago. The following is an outline of events since that time:

The template was first used in a very cut down form on a defense project. The fit criteria approach was used transform the requirement specification provided by Defense into a much clearer and more comprehensive document. The client was extremely impressed by the approach, as it was clear that had the system been built according to the original requirements it would not have been well received.

The template was used in the same limited form on a project for a large multi-national manufacturer. Once again the requirements were written prior to our involvement and fit criteria were used to expand upon and clarify what the client had written. As with the defense project, numerous inconsistencies and omissions were uncovered during the process.

After the positive results achieved on the above projects a Lotus Notes application was written to manage the collection of requirements. Various forms were created to mirror the different document types described in the Volere template. The application allows documents to be grouped and sorted by requirement type, source of the requirement etc. It also incorporates a work-flow allowing individual requirements to progress through an approval cycle i.e. each requirement passes through stages such as ``draft``, ``internally reviewed``, ``approved by client`` etc.

The Volere template approach and the associated Notes application were demonstrated to our management and subsequently adopted as the standard requirements gathering and documenting methodology for the Sydney office
The Notes application was integrated with MS Word to produce a printed specification for approval by the client
The automated product has since been used on an e-business application for a large pharmaceutical company and a reporting system for a hotel chain
The Notes application is about to be trialed by our office in Melbourne and is currently being evaluated by the offices in Canberra and Adelaide

Without exception the template approach, and in particular the use of fit criteria, has been enthusiastically received by both clients and analysts alike. There is no doubt that this approach has added significantly to the quality of our requirements specifications. The measurable nature of the requirements has also improved the effectiveness of our design validation process.

Please note that the Lotus Notes application described in this e-mail is a tool used by our analysts to aid the requirements analysis process, it is not sold as a commercial product.

If you would like any further information regarding our use of Volere, our future intentions, etc. please don't hesitate to drop me a line. Of course, if you have any free time during your upcoming visit to Sydney and would like to discuss things in person I would be only too happy to oblige.

Keith Winchester`{`company name withheld by request`}`
We have implemented several of the techniques. We have introduced rationale and fit criteria to our requirements pro forma. Rationale has proved very useful in reducing the number of questions we receive from IT, particularly where IT believe that a requirement will be difficult to meet, and I think the fit criteria has helped the test teams. We are also involving testers at an earlier stage and the general way we write our requirements has improved considerably.
Karen AggerIocore Consulting, Denmark
I have, and have used, your book Mastering the Requirements Process, for a couple of years. I find it invaluable as a project manager. Currently I'm working on requirements for phase two of a two-year national project here in Canada, about using the Net to affect the social policy process. I was delighted to find your template online. Many thanks for making such a great tool freely available. It is especially wonderful considering my client is a non-profit organization with a typically limited non-prof budget.
Lynn HaukaWomens Space, Canada
Read ``the book`` 9 months ago & used template to write requirements for an internet banking system. Vendor/developer was able to spin off scope document quite easily. Haven't finished development & testing, but have the most detailed & most realistically scheduled project plan we've ever written!

``We`` are the 2nd largest Texas based bank (www.iboc.com), largest minority owned bank, and largest bank headquartered on the Texas/Mexico border. Will use the template again on replacement of legacy host with IBM S80 running Progress RDBMS/4GL development software. Multiple interfaces for front end systems, including web-based. Detailed back-end reporting and data warehousing.

I'll be personally writing the great majority of requirements doc using Volere — I'm just a hands on kinda guy.

Thanks for exceptional insight, clarity, & organization. It's making a positive difference in a very complex undertaking.

David Combest, EVP/CIOInternational Bancshares Corporation.
Thanks for making this available. I am an IT Architect with IBM and covering all the bases when gathering requirements is always a problem. There never was enough time to do it right but with all the rush rush rush about web enablement and e-commerce, any tool that assists the process is welcome. I will use this template to feed the three modeling tools that I have in my toolbox; IBM's Business Process Modeler, IBM's PlanAhead and an ancient but serviceable copy of TI's IEF.
George HillikerIBM
Just letting you know that late last year, in a requirements specification subject at the University of Queensland, Australia, myself and my group used your SRS template in a SRS assignment. Almost all of the product of that assignment was developed because of you template, as well as using a peer review process to ``iron it out.`` As a result, we scored 18/20 for the assignment, the highest mark that our group heard of.
Dan SketcherUniversity of Queensland
We have implemented several of the techniques. We have introduced rationale and fit criteria to our requirements pro forma. Rationale has proved very useful in reducing the number of questions we receive from IT, particularly where IT believe that a requirement will be difficult to meet, and I think the fit criteria has helped the test teams. We are also involving testers at an earlier stage and the general way we write our requirements has improved considerably.
Colin StringerLloyds TSB
In our curriculum we pay much attention on the designprocess in civil and building engineering. Because the development of the requirments specification in the domain of the building industry is very weakly supported, we have searched for better concepts in other domains. We found concepts like DOORS, X-tie, RDD-100, Smarteam etc. These concepts are well performed to support the development of requirements specification but gave no information about the way to structure and architecture a well-defined requirements specification. This we found in the book Systems Engineering coping with complexity from R.Stevens and your book with the Volere template. For practical reasons we decided to use the Volere template. This is the first year in our course that we are using the template. We have transformed the Volere requirements specification template edition 6.1 for the building industry by introducing some examples and rename different items of the template. We hope it will work out for the students to get insight in the importance of a well-defined correct and compleet requirements specification. We will keep you informed about our experiences with the template in a course environment if you appreciate so.
Karel VeenvlietAssistant Professor, University of Twente
I am an independent contractor. I provide project management services to organizations working on large IM/IT type projects. Although I have some private sector clients, generally I work for Canadian Federal government department. I am currently assisting Health Canada in standards and practices related to Requirements Management and Configuration Management, which is where I came across your stuff. I recently completed an on line tendering system for the subsidiary of a Canadian bank.

I started life as a business systems analyst so I have some idea as to how complex the defintion of requriements is. Your stuff is the best I have seem. Historically I would have agreed with you that Privacy was jsut a subset of Security. However, there are a number of things happening that change that.

My current client is having to go back and do formal Privacy impact assessment on existing and proposed systems because of new legislation enacted in Canada. This is turning out to be a big job. (The law is very simple; its less then a page long. In effect it says, you must tell people why you want to collect data, you must have their informed consent before you collect it, and the data cannot be used for any other purpose then what they were told). There are some other laws that that is the big one.

I look forward to your future work

Neil Kemp

Volere components are used at:

  • Abbey UK

  • Agfa-Mitra Canada

  • Airline Reporting Corporation US

  • Alcatel Lucent

  • American Express

  • AMP Australia

  • Audit Commission Uk

  • Aventis Pharmaceuticals

  • Bank of International Settlements Switzerland

  • BankOne US

  • Bankwest Australia

  • Belgian Post Belgium

  • Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland, Oregon

  • Cesky Mobil

  • City University

  • MobiFon

  • Commonwealth Bank

  • Cordis Europa NV

  • Department of Work and Pensions UK

  • DFAS

  • DHL

  • Diageo UK

  • domainLogix Corporation

  • Driver & Vehicle Licensing Authority UK

  • Emirates Airline UAE

  • ENI Italy

  • ETAS GmbH

  • Euroclear Belgium

  • Eurocontrol

  • Exel UK

  • Federal Express

  • Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority

  • Fleet

  • Florida Power and Light US

  • Gambro Italy

  • Garden Ridge

  • GEC Marconi

  • Guinness UDV

  • H&R Block

  • Harvard Online

  • Hewlett-Packard

  • IAEA Vienna

  • IBM

  • Infovide Poland

  • Insurance Australia Group

  • International Atomic Energy Authority

  • Jaguar

  • Justice Department Victoria Australia

  • KLM Airlines

  • KLM Cargo

  • KLP Insurance Norway

  • KMD

  • Legislative Data Centre

  • Lloyds TSB

  • Micron Computer

  • Ministry of Defence

  • Music Alliance UK

  • National Fuel and Gas

  • National University of Ireland

  • National Air Traffic Service

  • Nordstrom

  • OCLC

  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

  • Open University UK

  • Optus

  • Ordnance Survey UK

  • Patni Computer Systems Ltd. (India)

  • Pito UK

  • PixelPark Germany

  • Plymouth City Council

  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers

  • Progressive Insurance US

  • Publix Supermarkets US

  • Rohde & Schwarz Munich

  • Romtelecom Romania

  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea UK

  • Royal Mail UK

  • SBEI Finland

  • sd&m Germany

  • Servcon South Africa

  • Siemens

  • Social Security Administration US

  • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

  • Southern Institute of Technology

  • Spacetec Norway

  • Swinburne University

  • Sky TV

  • Stater Netherlands

  • Telecom Italia

  • Telemedicine Norway

  • University of Phoenix

  • University of Wollongong

  • Victoria Legal Aid

  • Vision Systems

  • Vodafone

  • Wachovia

  • Waikato Institute of Technology

  • Western Washington University

  • Woolworths

  • Yell UK

  • — and many others not listed here

Naturally we are interested in hearing how you are using parts of Volere requirements. Please let us know what you are doing.