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Business Requirements

Business Requirements



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Published by: api-3742973 on Oct 15, 2008
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 Page 1 of 12
The Executive Briefing on the IssuesSurrounding Getting Business Requirements Right
Executive Summary
This paper is designed as an executive briefing on the issues surrounding getting businessrequirements right. The white paper is structured so that each page is its own ‘mini-white-paper’but each is also part of a total look at better structuring requirements documents, processes andcontent completeness.At the end of this paper is a one page ‘tear-out’ summary which is both a shortened distillationof the content, and a diagnostic tool for reviewing your organization’s performance inextracting and documenting business requirements.In short: we propose that Business Requirements are a process that needs executive attention.Not only is this a central enabling process for business strategy execution, it is one that requiresdiscipline and commitment from the organization to be able to make it perform well. In additionto the wealth of statistical detail to support the monetary contribution of this process, wepropose that business requirements are more than a template to be completed. Effective andefficient requirements must:
 Start with a Template:
that clearly defines a format for content designed for use by aspecific user. And also has;
Complete Content:
this content has specific characteristics, and is measurablycomplete. And;
Uses an Efficient Process:
a company’s subject experts are its most limited asset.
Table of Contents
Executive Summary 1
Table of Contents 1
Why focus on getting ‘Business Requirements’ right today? 2
How does business performance in defining business requirements affect other operational areas? 2
Understanding of Effective Business Requirements the definition 3
Business Requirements: The Holistic View 3
What Makes Getting Business Requirements Right a Complex Problem? 4
Assuring Content Clarity in Business Requirements 5
Effective Information Format Recognizes Three Audiences 5
Executive Briefing on Formatting Standards and Errors 6
Executive Briefing on Completeness: Business Requirements Testing and ControlProcesses 7
Executive Briefing on Completeness: Controlling Financial Risks 8
Business Requirements as a Process 9
Key Success Factors and Performance Assessment of Business Requirements 10
1 Page ‘Tear Out’ Summary 11
About the Author 12
 Page 2 of 12
Why focus on getting ‘Business Requirements’ right today?
The concept of getting business requirements right sounds straight-forward. However, mostcompanies would admit they need to improve - in fact, flawed requirements trigger 70% ofproject failures
. Consider the statistics from recent studies:1.
While fewer than 15% of projects are considered outright failures by those involved, 21.6%of all spending on projects is still wasted today – either on failed projects, or poorlycontrolled overruns.
As the projects get more interdepartmental and complex, the failure rate rises. For example, 51% of companies implementing an ERP viewed their ERP implementation asunsuccessful.
 The ERP statistics demonstrate an important relationship: the larger the number of stakeholder groups involved, and the more complex the processes, the more likely a project will fail due tobusiness requirements-related problems. It is not so much that over 20% of all money spentacross North America on new projects will likely be wasted, it is that the more strategic a projectbecomes, the more likely it is to fail.
From a cash flow perspective: more money will be saved by improving your processes inbusiness requirements, than by outsourcing the entire application development organizationoffshore. Fixing business requirements processes, however, requires more organizationaldiscipline to achieve results.
How does business performance in defining business requirements affect other operational areas?
Effective business requirements are both a business organizational discipline issue, and atechnology issue. Requirements are the bridge between business and technologywherein the maturity of the processes in place directly impact the effectiveness of acompany in its use of technology or technology suppliers.2.
High quality processes are also efficient and streamlined. This means that implementingbetter processes should come with the future benefit of time savings and better execution. Today, most business strategies end with some form of technology solution.Making this transition between business and technology faster and more efficient is agoal that can be profitable at the highest level of a business.3.
Poor requirements have extreme organizational financial risk – particularly on largetechnology initiatives. There are processes for testing the completeness of requirements.There are triage tests to determine if it is probable that less intuitive processes weremissed. There should be little excuse for a project missing its financial targets by ordersof magnitude because the requirements were poorly specified.Requirements are not simply a document or template that needs to be filled in. Effectivebusiness requirements are achieved only by getting the right content, in a consistent format,using a clear process. The process is a discipline which requires commitment at the highest level.1 Info-Tech Research Group (2006)2 Standish, Chaos Report (2004)3 Robbins-Gioia Survey (2001)
 Page 3 of 12
Understanding of Effective Business Requirements – the definition
“A requirement can be thought of as something that is demanded or obligatory; aproperty that is essential for the system to perform its functions. Requirements vary in intent andin kinds of properties. They can be functions, constraints, or other elements that must be presentto meet the needs of the intended stakeholders. Requirements can be described as a conditionor capability a customer needs to solve a problem or achievean objective. For clarification purposes, a descriptor shouldalways precede requirements; for example, business requirements, user requirements, system requirements,operational requirements, contract requirements, and test requirements.”
In short:
business requirements are the description of thebusiness needed by all parties involved in using, implementing or maintaining an application.Unfortunately with business requirements, much of thedocumentation generated is simply ineffective. The difficultpart is describing all the details of the business in a way that isabsolutely comprehensive and which presents an exactlyconsistent set of information on each piece of a business.Effective requirements have certain characteristics andinformation content. Specifically, effective BusinessRequirements in a project have three characteristics:
Clarity of Format 
: information is correctly andconsistently structured in a form which is usable.
Content Completeness
: certain types of information arepersistently available.
Efficiency of the Process
: it is clear how analysts will elicitthe information needed.
Business Requirements:The Holistic View
Geoffrey Moore first coined the term ‘whole product’in 1991 (Crossing the Chasm), and we see thisconcept as useful in assessing business requirements.Unless an efficient process is adopted to ensure thatcontent is complete, and clearly communicates tothe various users of the document BusinessRequirements are not an effective process. There are6 attributes that make an effective and efficientprocess.
IIBA, BOK v1.4 (2006)
 An Analogy: Evaluating TheEffectiveness of Your Requirements Development Processes
Even mid-sized organizationshave hundreds of projects thatare run annually, maybe 40 ofwhich are significant and risky.An executive needs to think ofgetting business requirementsdone as a manufacturingprocess, done in an identicalway, 40 times over the courseof a year. How could a personmanufacturing computers berandom about what thecomputer looked like, what wasin the computer, and how thecomputer was made and stillexpect a consistent user experience from using thatcomputer?
CompletenessTestingCrystallizationOf Project
Content CompletenessClarity of Format to User Efficiency of Process
© Digital Mosaic Inc, 2006

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