Specifying and Modeling Requirements

One of the tasks in the Requirements Analysis knowledge area of the BABOK® Guide is “Specifying and modeling requirements.”  This task offers a lot of common sense advice when it comes to writing and modeling your stakeholder or solution requirements for your project. There are several recommended elements that you should consider applying on your projects that we will take a look at in this post.

Writing text requirements: You will find yourself using text requirements to describe your solution capabilities, conditions and constraints. Good technical writing skills are essential. Remember that these requirements are not an exercise in creative writing. You want them to be written in simple sentences that are clear, concise and complete.

Using matrix documentation such as tables: The most common matrix seen in requirements is a two-dimensional table or a spreadsheet. Requirements attributes and data dictionaries lend themselves to being developed in a table format such as this. A table can be much more effective than a bunch of sentences when you are trying to show simple relationships between pieces of your requirements information, such as requirements priorities or traceability relationships.

Building text or graphical models: Models are a simplified representation of something real. They can be textual, graphical, or a combination of both. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is certainly true when it comes to analyzing and documenting your requirements. Many analysts find using formal models or informal models to be helpful during their requirements elicitation efforts as well as during requirements analysis.

Your selected models must follow the rules for the type of model that they are. That means that you are expected to consistently use the correct notation and meaning for every element in your model. Formal models are powerful tools as long as your stakeholder audience understands the language they are speaking. Informal models have no formal definition, connecting elements in ways that have meaning for you and for your stakeholder audience.

Capturing requirements attributes: Make sure that you capture the requirements attributes associated with each of the requirements that you specify and model. The attributes that you need to capture for each type of requirement are defined for you in the requirements management plan that you already produced as part of the Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring knowledge area

Don’t forget to seek opportunities for improvement in how you write and model your requirements. Essentially, your requirements work is incomplete without looking for opportunities to improve the business where you work and they way you perform business analysis work. The BABOK® Guide lists several areas that you should keep in mind, such as:

  • Automating or simplifying the work people do
  • Improving information access across the organization
  • Reducing the complexity of interfaces between systems and people
  • Increasing the consistency of how people behave
  • Eliminating redundancy across your stakeholders

Working with each of these elements used to the appropriate degree and always thinking about additional efficiencies you can contribute to the business and your requirements development process  is a skill that experienced business analysts have built and are constantly refining. You have to be able to decide what to model, how to effectively model it, and how much detail is necessary in those selected models.

Check out Learning Tree’s introductory business analysis course if you are looking for a great way to get started or fine tune your skills as a business analyst on your projects.  This course allows you to practice and fine tune your skills in writing and modeling the requirements for your projects and their proposed solutions. 

Happy requirements writing!

Susan Weese

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