Great applications – or “killer products” – don’t originate within and then emerge magically from development. Innovation properly emerges from development’s close and iterative engagement with customers and the business. Whether developers use an agile or hybrid approach, focusing on how to consistently deliver quality to the customer remains the single most important strategy for delighting customers. In fact, organizations that effectively manage their requirements process deliver 75% more customer requirements, develop projects 161% faster, and reduce development costs by 75% (IAG Consulting). Staying focused on requirements also helps drive software quality, further helping delight customers. It’s safe to say that after all these years, the old adage about quality still holds true: “The quality of your product is directly related to the quality of your requirements.”
But if requirements are so critical, why do so many organizations do such a poor job at managing them? Why have decades-old tools failed to resolve the problem? And why has agile still had limited success across the enterprise despite “light” management of requirements?
The unfortunate truth is that many of the tools that were originally designed to help developers manage requirements are actually responsible for holding them back from delivering on customer requirements. According to Forrester, “Application development and program management professionals searching for the right requirements management solution often get tripped up by ambition…This leads them to purchase a tool that’s more complex, more difficult to use, and more expensive than is necessary.”
Development organizations also sometimes get stuck in a feature-function analysis focused solely on “requirements management” that includes factors such as baselining, versioning, linking, and traceability, while ignoring the broader lifecycle of everything they need to do to capture requirements, understand their complexity and impact, and validate features. Instead of focusing solely on “requirements management,” often the best solution to development’s problems is looking at the entire process and how it’s impacted by change.