Fundamental Principles of Requirements Engineering: The Key to Product Success

Editor’s note: the following was written by a guest writer. If you are interested in contributing to our blog, please contact ellen@productschool.com

Overview

Requirements Engineering is a systematic and disciplined approach with the intent of helping product people to elicit, analyze, validate, document, and manage the right product requirements. Using this approach appropriately can result in fit-for-purpose delightful digital products for end-users and also fulfill your business objectives. In order to use this approach with a great maturity level, you need to follow its related principles and try to assess your RE activities and outcomes based on them. According to IREB Handbook for the CPRE Foundation Level, there are 9 principles that apply to all tasks, activities, and practices in Requirements Engineering. Let’s check what are these 9 principles are in the following.

Requirements Engineering Principles

In this section, we are going to know the RE principles and their details. These 9 principles are:

1. Value Orientation

Writing requirements isn’t a goal for RE. The act of writing requirements based on assumptions has no value, neither for the users nor for your business. The requirements outcome need to add value for the users. Remember users use products to do their job better. The requirements should be something that adds value to the outcome and the benefit of using your product in end-users life.

2. Stakeholders

Using RE helps you do your best to satisfy the stakeholders’ needs and desires. When we speak about developing a digital product, many product people think they should just deliver a product based on end-user needs. Well… that won’t work. When you want to develop a digital product that brings a delightful experience with itself, you need to consider all the people and organizations who make an impact on the product or impacted by that product. According to the IREB’s glossary, we call these organizations and people, THE STAKEHOLDERS

To consider stakeholders very well, designing different personas, and categorize stakeholders are the critical activities that you like a product people need to do. To do so, focus on categorizing stakeholders in these categories:

  • Critical:

Most important ones. If you don’t consider engaging them, you are going to develop a useless product and they can make the product fail.

  • Major:

These are the ones that have an important role in product success. They have a great impact on a product’s success but by not considering them, the product won’t fail.

  • Minor:

Not considering these stakeholders will not have an impact or have a minor impact on product success.

people sitting on chairs near tables during daytime

3. Shared Understanding

All the stakeholders need to have a shared understanding of the problems and their related requirements. It is very important to know the shared understanding’s enablers such as shared culture and values, informed mutual trust, previous successful collaboration, domain-specific standards, etc. Also, to make this happen, product people have to know the obstacles and find the solutions for them. Obstacles like geographical distance, outsourcing, regulatory constraints need to consider carefully during the RE.

4. Context

Product people should aware that products can not be understood in isolation. One of the most critical principles of RE is context. The context is a part of the product’s environment that somehow relevant and helps understand the product and its requirements. Determining the right product context and its elements, helps you find the right requirements to solve in the future with the product.

5. Problem, requirements, solution

People use products to do their jobs better, faster, easier, and with a joyful experience. Whenever they are not satisfied when doing their jobs, there is a problem. Every problem needs a solution that able to solve it and makes the situation and experience better. Finally, requirements that related to the problem need to be elicited in order to make a solution useful, valuable, and worthwhile to use. So, as you see, these three are completely and closely related together.

6. Validation

Validation is not just for the increments or the mature product. It starts with the requirements. In order to develop a digital product that satisfies stakeholders’ needs and desires, you need to validate the elicited requirements. According to IREB, validation is the process of confirming that the document requirements match the stakeholders’ needs and desires. Or in other words, confirming whether the right requirements have been specified.

7. Evolution

Digital products are existing in a world that contains EXTREME change. Desires, needs, processes, jobs, behaviors, and capabilities change continuously. So, the digital product needs to embrace the change to show its value and improve its capability to deliver an experience that satisfies the users. Keep in mind that you as a product people should manage the evolution, otherwise it manages you and guide the product through failure.

8. Innovation

Innovation is a key principle of the RE. It reminds product people that they are not the stakeholders’ voice recorders. They should be innovation aware. They are going beyond of whatever the stakeholders’ tell them to make them happy and excited. In order to make disruptive innovations happen, product people need to exploring possible disruptive ways of doing their jobs that make them achieve their goals with a better experience.

9. Systematic and disciplined work

Well, the last one is this… systematic and disciplined work. Systematic and disciplined work is going hand in hand with processes. To do your best with the requirements, you need a suitable process to systematically eliciting, documenting, validating, and managing the requirements. This process helps you develop a product that has a certain, appropriate level of quality that satisfies the stakeholders.

Keep in Mind…

There is an outstanding approach in Agile that I mention here for the RE principles. Agile relies on the empirical process which is based on inspection and adaptation. In order to implement and improve the RE process, tasks, activities, and practices you need to use these principles in your project, inspect the result, and adapt yourself to the new way of implementing these RE principles. Remember that requirements will change in the future and to embrace the change, you need to become Agile… you need to inspect and adapt your way of implementing RE principles.

Meet the Author

Aidin Ziapour

Aidin Ziapour is a certified Product Management expert and Enterprise Design Thinking coach. He has experience of working with several famous corporations and brands such as the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship, Axel Springer & Porsche, International Requirements Engineering Board, Amazing Design People List, and System Group.

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