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Writing Better Requirements 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0321131638
ISBN-10: 0321131630
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Writing Better Requirements
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  • Writing Effective Use Cases
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Experience has shown us that investment in the requirements process saves time, money, and effort. Yet, development efforts consistently charge ahead without investing sufficiently in the requirements process. We are so intent to develop the technical solutions that we are unwilling to take the time and effort to understand and meet the real customer needs.
--From the Foreword by Ralph R. Young, author of Effective Requirements Practices

Who is it for?

If you are involved in the systems engineering process, in any company -- from transport and telecommunications, to aerospace and software -- you will learn how to write down requirements to guarantee you get the systems YOU need.

What skills will I learn?

  • How to write simple, clear requirements -- so you get what you want
  • How to organize requirements as scenarios -- so everyone understands what you want
  • How to review requirements -- so you ask for the right things



0321131630B05282002

About the Author

Ian Alexander is an independent consultant specialising in Requirements Engineering. He has written several training courses on systems and requirements engineering. He has led hundreds of training courses on systems engineering, requirements, DOORS, and DXL, and has run numerous practical workshops on scenarios, trade-offs and requirements. He was co-author of an Addison-Wesley book on HTML 3 and its 2nd Edition on HTML 4. He is the author of the Scenario Plus for Use Cases toolkit, and is a well-known speaker and writer on scenario usage. He is currently on a technology project to investigate the reuse of specifications for control systems in the German automobile industry. He helps to run the BCS Requirements Engineering Specialist Group and the IEE Professional Network for Systems Engineering. He is a Chartered Engineer.

Richard Stevens is the founder of QSS, the firm that launched the pioneering Requirements Management tool DOORS, the world¿s most popular requirements tool. He is the co-author of books on "Systems Engineering", "Software Engineering Standards", "Software Engineering Guidelines" and "Understanding Computers". In 1998, Richard was appointed as the first European Fellow of INCOSE, the International Council on Systems Engineering.

 

 

 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (August 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321131630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321131638
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,257,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It's a short and to the point book on what requirements should contain; it's like a cliff-notes version of other requirements gathering books. We ordered one for our whole team and made it required reading! For anyone who doesn't have the time nor the patience to weed through 300 pages to get to the point, this is the book for you.
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It is rare when you come across a project management book that is easy to read, short and full of valuable information but Writing Better Requirements meets this criteria. I like simple and to the point!

The Book Provides Practical Advice

The book provides good practical advice on writing requirements. Alexander and Stevens follow their own advice for writing requirements in the book by using simple words that contribute to the books readability. The book is written in a manner that will not intimidate non-technical personnel so it may given to the entire project team, including customers and users. (Wait... I just had a novel idea...we should teach our customers and users how to write requirements.)

Here are five of many valuable tips from Writing Better Requirements

1. Perspective on the requirements effort. The authors state approximately 5% of the project effort and up to 25% of the schedule duration should be put on project requirements.

2. Guidance on structuring requirements. Improper structuring is identified as a primary cause of poor requirements. The structuring discussion includes a useful table that documents problems and solutions for structuring requirements. For, example, the authors characterize one problem as Some requirements can be applied simultaneously or in any order and provide the common sense solution of Mark whether sections in the structure are sequences, parallels or alternatives. Overall the authors provide some good alternatives to challenges on how to effectively structure requirements.

3. Plenty of exercises. Another valuable aspect of this book are the exercises provided after a lot of the sections in the book.
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I found this book to be very helpful in developing an overall process sense of requirements development. This book provided an excellent synopsis of "why" good requirements are important and what the pitfalls are when such is lacking. The examples were both relevant and descriptive. As an overall initial treatise on requirements, this book was terrific. As such, the focus is perhaps more upon managers and leaders of teams, rather than the actual developer of detailed requirements. Ideally there would be a follow-on companion volume with greater detail to better aid the actual developer of requirements including checklists and several case studies, as well as more detailed examples. But I completely recommend this book. Vance Hilderman, March 2010.
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The book gives rules to apply, even examples. A poor attempt on how to organize requirements but I really didn't find how to make it apply to my particular issues of the moment.

Another area of eh...the book has a chapter giving quite a few examples of how not to write a requirement, including some good descriptions on why they are bad requirements. Great! That is definitely useful information. However, the next logical step would have been to show how the requirement could have been re-written to be better. Well, that next logical step is missing.

Also, when I read the title "Writing Better Requirements", my takeaway is not how to begin writing requirements. My takeaway is, now that you know how to write requirements, here's how to make them even better. I don't think the book takes it to that next level, but that could just be my opinion. I was expecting more examples of problem area requirements, like how to capture state transition requirements, how best to organize requirements that belong in a specific state and also belong in a scenario or feature section of the requirements.

Overall, there is some decent information in the book, which is why I gave it 2 stars instead of 1. I just think the book could have been executed much more comprehensively and more focus should have been given to experienced requirements writers as the name of the book implies. Instead, it is just little more than an overview of requirements writing geared towards beginners.
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i.
I know a thing for sure: it is only you [a user] and your task; a piece of work to perform in order to achieve a state that is meaningful from an organisational point of view. Note that there is no difference whether the task is to be performed by a fully automatic system function or by a manual user with no computer support.

Nothing more to say, when it comes to theory. Now about the book.

ii.
I strongly believe in an approach the authors propagate. Discovering user requirements means you are not thinking about any particular software, hardware or technology. What you are trying to achieve is finding out what a pure state of things is supposed to occur. Unless you forget about IT, this is not a daunting task. Easier said than done.

iii.
For ordinary people wanting to identify and gather REAL & PURE user requirements, this book might be a perfect companion. You will not find here any technical stuff concerned with the internals of a computer application, so much beloved by (some) hard-codders, especially the young ones not wanting to hear about messy organizational workflows.

Even if you are a species coming from a planet IT, you should read the book. There is only one but: DO NOT SEEK TO DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM REALITY, that is the world of non-technical users having nothing in common with classes, events, services or rules. Ask yourself this: why the hell a nice&competent girl from Customer Service Department is supposed to tell the difference between A BUSINESS SERVICE (i.e. a building block of SOA) and CUSTOMER SERVICE (i.e. a business function)?
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