Good Requirements ARE SORTA NUTS

Have you ever let someone down even though you had tried your best and thought you were doing what they wanted? Few things are frustrating as putting forth tons of effort only to find out you were working on the wrong things.

Expectations are such an essential and common component of human relationships and communication that most of the time they are taken for granted. Taken for granted is exactly what expectations should not be.

In project management, we have a plethora of tools and techniques to help us understand expectations and meet them. We understand and fulfill those expectations through good requirements management.

Every stakeholder in a project has expectations for it, including the sponsor, team, customers, and even upper management in many cases. These expectations need to go through a review process and possibly become requirements, which in turn may lead to derived requirements that arise solely to support the main requirements. So what should come out of this review process? What makes a good requirement for a project?

I put together my own acronym based on the old standard SMART goal setting components, combined with sources on soliciting great requirements (see citations at the end of this article). I hope you like these items although I have to warn you, they ARE SORTA NUTS.

Accounted for Documented! Documented! Documented!
Ranked Prioritize for when you can’t do it all
Empathetic No conflicting requirements, understand diverse stakeholder needs
Specific Clear, concise, to the point
Owned Who’s expectation is being filled, and/or is an SME for this requirement?
Realistic Is it feasible?
Time-specific Dependencies and timing taken into account
Actionable Is this something you can execute on?
Need-focused Focus on needs, not preconceived solutions
Useful What is the business justification?
Testable How do you know when the requirement is satisfied?
Sufficient Enough detail to tell what they really want?

What factors do you look for in great requirements?

Sources and links:
The Art of Requirements Gathering, George Spafford
Eliciting Software Requirements, Presentation by Jesse Borschel – Sioux Empire PMI Chapter