While the perfect software development system may not exist, there are many things that project managers can do to ensure smooth sailing. One of which is requirements engineering.
This is a great place to get the ball rolling on a fairly complicated process and to ensure that an application’s features are always being kept in mind. After all, we all know how complicated the design process and functionality can get, especially when it boils down to the final user-experience!
Being in the application development space, the chances are that you have heard many terms being thrown around. One of the fairly new terms is requirements management. Before getting started with requirements engineering, it is very important to know what you and your stakeholders are getting into. Having a thorough understanding of the different strategies can influence your project and its outcome.
Most importantly, it is essential to understand whether or not this process is going to be managed by a team or run by as a one-man show. Although both approaches have their pros and cons, choosing between a team and an individual effort can impact your project’s time management and efficiency levels.
For this reason, we recommend analyzing your project’s objectives, needs, and stakeholders. You may want to look at asking yourself these questions:
- Who is the lead decision-maker?
- What is the aim of the project?
- What are the functional requirements of the project?
- What can be done to best serve the final user-experience?
With these questions in mind, we can dive right into what requirements engineering is, as well as the pros and cons associated with working with a team or a singular developer or analyst.
What is Requirements Engineering?
As previously mentioned, getting an application software up and running can be a lengthy process with many steps involved. Even before it is put into development there can be a few debates around its functionality and how that can be achieved. Let’s deep dive into requirements engineering.
Requirements engineering is the written process of defining, documenting, and maintaining the features of a project. This is best done before the actual software application is put into development to clearly outline what the application should do rather than how it should be done.
Aspects such as the approvals, agreement of all stakeholders, and documentation are listed during this process. The design of the application is not a focus for this document. Instead, recording the required capabilities of the application is the core purpose.
It is essential to highlight the written component of this process as it ultimately becomes the document that the developer team refers to. The reason for this is that all of the specific software requirements are recorded for future reference, maintenance purposes, and accountability. In short, requirements engineering defines the project for both immediate and long-term development.
Another important point to note is that this process of documentation is made up of 4 main activities. These activities contribute to the finalization of the software’s development and are as follows:
- Requirements elicitation
Lists the ways used to gain knowledge about the software application domain and requirements. Its goal is to widen the knowledge domain of the analyst with the hopes to provide input in the next development stages.
- Requirements specification
Produces the formal software requirement models including both functional and non-functional aspects as well as the constraints specified. During this stage, more knowledge about the problem may be needed which will then trigger the previously mentioned activity.
- Requirements verification and validation
Verification refers to the steps that are put in place to ensure that the software is correctly implemented for its specific function. Validation, on the other hand, ensures that the software has been built according to customer requirements.
- Requirements management
Involves analyzing, documenting, tracking, prioritizing, and agreeing upon requirements throughout the project. Ensures that resulting changes are controlled and have been communicated with all relevant stakeholders. This is to guarantee that the changing nature of a software application development is tracked and listed.
Capturing the detailed requirements of a software system from all relevant stakeholders can make for a smoother roll-out through the development stages. Although this may not be a sequential process, it is important to consider the feasibility of whether it is best to be led by a team or by a single person.
Performing with a Team Pros and Cons
In an ideal world, requirements engineering is best utilized within a team environment. Generally speaking, this project will be led by a senior-level manager that oversees a team of software developers. In other cases, there may be a project manager or senior developer who works with the client and junior development team who are responsible for writing the code.
Whichever route is taken within a team, the biggest bonus is that you will receive a more rounded approach to your software build. While the client may not know the ins and outs of software development, they will know what the aim is of the project and what needs to be achieved.
Consequently, your project will not only have its main functions and aims in mind but it will also be architected to ensure that it is operating best to its ability to achieve these goals.
When working with a team, getting this type of management is a huge pro. The senior-level manager will ensure that the software is being built to accomplish business objectives. The development team, on the other hand, will know exactly what will be needed to perform these functions with the technical know-how and can, therefore, contribute to the final requirements of the engineering document. As this document will be used by other developers, it is also handy to have an experienced person compile this information to lessen the risk of miscommunication.
Team participation can also contribute to the bettering of ideas and strategic decisions. Having more than one person to bounce ideas off opens up the space for innovation and smart-thinking. This means that what one person may have missed, another may have the perfect solution. It also means that there is more hands-on deck to guarantee that deadlines are being met.
However, a well-performing team isn’t achievable without the right tools. When communication is lacking, there is the risk to have a project go awry. It is easy for a message to be lost amongst the masses or keynotes to be lost amongst the many within a team environment. This can especially reign true if the team is made up of remote members or contractors. The downside of this is that it can lead to costly delays throughout the development process.
In short, the pros and cons of requirements engineering being performed by a team are as follows:
- Business goals are kept in mind throughout the development process
- Team of experienced members
- Encourages innovation and creativity
- New members can pick up problems that have been previously missed
- Faster outputs
- Chance of miscommunication in larger or remote teams
- Risk of delays
One Man Show Pros and Cons
As we have already covered, requirements engineering is not an easy job. With all that there is to be accomplished, it is important that whoever is in charge of the documentation is thorough at all stages. For this reason, turning to one person to run your application software’s requirements engineering may not always be recommended.
Working with a one-man team means that a senior developer or business analyst would have to be employed to put together the requirements engineering document. As this document holds valuable significance for the whole project, juniors may not have the experience or information to know what needs to be covered in this process. Fortunately, this means that you get to work with a highly-trained, experienced, professional who is completely dedicated to your software.
However, due to the scope of work, it can take one person a notable amount of time to complete the document. With 4 key areas to cover, as well as the more than likely changes that will occur throughout the stages, it could lead to some massive delays.
There is also the risk of them spending more time putting the requirements engineering documentation together rather than focusing on the coding. Though, this may not be relevant to all businesses as the person writing the documentation may not be the one who codes the application.
To summarize, working with a one-man team can generate the following pros and cons:
- Hands-on efforts
- Access to highly-skilled knowledge
- Less backward and forward
- Large risk of timely delays
- Coding requirements may not be met
With everything there is to know about requirements engineering, a software application’s success can largely rely on what was done during these initial stages. Due to this significance, we highly recommend working with a team to ensure that all of your project’s objectives, needs, and stakeholders are being catered to.
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