Those who have worked on commercial software projects will agree that development begins long before the first line of code is written. And important stage of the process is designing the project requirements, and choosing the technological solutions that fit them. In this article, we’ll take a close look at the practice of requirement testing and how it can benefit software projects.
Project requirements are incredibly important to business success. Sure, things change and you need to be prepared in case you need to pivot quickly, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to know exactly what you’re trying to achieve in the meantime. Requirements also need to be viable and fit the business context. What you’re aiming for has to be within reach, and it has to allow you to continue growing once you get it.
How can you make sure that your prepared requirements will meet these conditions? Invest a little time in requirement testing.
How does requirement testing work?
Requirement testing is a fairly straightforward process that can include the following steps:
1. Making sure that all features are described and complete.
2. Checking whether all features are detailed and there is no uncertainty about what the business logic should do.
3. Getting rid of ambiguousness, lack of clarity, and errors.
4. Ensuring that the project requirements, as they are written, are understandable for both the business and software development teams.
5. Confirming that proposed requirements can be fulfilled during project, and if so, that it can be done within a reasonable timeframe and at a reasonable cost.
6. Learning whether a given requirement can be completed in a predictable amount of time and whether the current state of the system do not prevent implementing it.
It’s generally not a one-and-done procedure. It’s important to check requirements often during an iterative development process. After all, requirements may change after the implementation of some parts of the application. The development team should regularly check if the requirements are still relevant.
As a rule, a good requirement is:
- Limited in scope - it describes only one thing;
- Complete - all necessary information is provided;
- Consistent - it doesn’t contradict other documentation;
- Atomic - the requirement can’t be divided into smaller parts;
- Traceable - it visibly aligns with business needs;
- Relevant - it does not become obsolete over time;
- Feasible - it is achievable within the project.
What are the benefits of requirement testing?
The crucial thing to keep in mind is that project requirements aren’t project goals. They are what you want to do broken down into manageable chunks. Why is this important? Because a system built on erroneous or badly described requirements will do what’s required of it on paper, but not necessarily what it needs to do to meet business goals.
Properly validated requirements will give you clear answers to the question of what your software should do to deliver the right experience to users.
Remember that requirements are one of the major metrics used to track the project’s progress. So, if your requirements are incomplete or understood wrongly, all of your project analytics are worthless. Relevance matters, too. It’s waste of time and money to implement things that are no longer needed.
Next, clarity. Business folk can slip into a very specific jargon that your IT team won’t understand. They may omit writing down things that are obvious to them - but won’t be obvious to a developer or a designer. This is also true the other way around: a CTO likely uses words that a business developer doesn’t fully understand. This can lead to serious miscommunication - but all that’s needed to avoid the worst of it is to go through the project requirements with representatives of both sides.
Preparing good requirements and documentation will also reduce the costs and time of development. Testing requirements at the proposal stage is much “cheaper” than testing them after a feature was implemented. Potential issues can be fixed before the development process starts.
Additionally, development goes much more quickly when the team can easily implement requested business logic without asking any questions about what each feature should do.
It’s easy to see how big an impact requirement testing can have on a software development project. It’s a tool for avoiding unnecessary expenses, speeding up work, ensuring smooth communication, and achieving business goals on the first try. Make sure to try it for your next project.
If you want to work with a team that takes your project seriously, talk to us.
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