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Requirements Composer changed my working life

As a senior consultant, who over the last 25+ years has been involved in many software development programs, from small applications to large military and satellite ground control systems, I have used (and seen) many different methods and tools for developing and managing requirements. Rational Requirements Composer (RRC) and the Jazz platform are tackling two of the biggest problems I have seen over and over again:

  1. Accuracy: Do we have the right requirements, and are they described clearly and concisely? The challenge here is often rooted in lack of:
    • Knowledge of the real problem and the solution options
    • Confidence in the chosen solution
    • and Agreement of the business priorities the solution solves
  2. Communication and collaboration: Does everyone know and understand the requirements? Is there honest dialogue about the problems and solutions, alignment to the business strategy, and active negotiation and trade-off.? And can we have these conversations in a timely and productive manner?

So how does Rational Requirements Composer reduce these problems? It does this through:

  • Visualizations of user scenarios, processes and use cases provide a fast, intuitive way to facilitate requirements elicitation and validation
  • Direct, active, and widely inclusive stakeholder involvement in requirements and solution discussions/review

For example, as I travel the world (often in different time zones), nearly everyday I log into the Rational Requirements Composer repository used in the development of the newer RRC product versions. Once I am in the repository I examine my personal dashboard, which shows me my own work, comments directed to me, and the activity of others on the project team.

As I examine the list of most recently changed artifacts and team comments, I choose one or two for further examination; typically a use case, user interface sketch or storyboard, navigating any related sidebar comments, requirements and artifact links, to understand the web of requirements and supporting information. This improves my knowledge of the problem and solution options greatly.

Then drawing on my experience and feedback from customers, I comment directly upon the artifacts. This typically takes about 10 or 15 minutes a day. Requirements Composer allows me to be involved with the product development team in a way that has never been possible before, either because I would not have been invited to development team meetings or it wouldn’t have fit my schedule or I have had to repeat my feedback several times either via e-mail, or in several meetings because not all stakeholders could attend a single meeting.

This continual involvement, allows me and other stakeholders outside the development team to influence, very early, the direction of the product — before we have formal review meetings — thus enabling the team to converge on the “right” answers much faster and with more of the “wisdom of the crowd.” It also allows the other stakeholders to see my feedback in context and to build on it in a way that would be lost if I were having these discussions by phone, or in an e-mail or whilst passing in the hall. Increasing confidence that we have the right solution, and that we will quickly reach agreement on the right business problem to solve.

These stakeholders include the developers and testers who now have the history and context of why we decided to do one thing rather than another, and what it means, which helps them to be more effective in their implementation and testing. It also allows us to reduce the number of meetings for requirement elicitation and validation as well as for user experience (UX) design and review. Increasing communication and collaboration whilst reducing time.

We will never get away completely from having meetings, but if all the various project stakeholders spend only ten minutes a day, at a time that is convenient to them, it can have a significant impact on project success: less rework, better solutions, and helping us get to market faster. With Requirements Composer I’m having a greater customer impact, with increased involvement, but with fewer meetings on my calendar.

Robin Bater
Communities of Practice Architect
Executive IT Specialist