Writing Better Requirements in Plain English

Avoid the Number One Cause of IT Project Failures and Overruns (Series: Writing Effective Requirements for IT Solutions)
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  • Lectures 15
  • Length 44 mins
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 9/2014 English

Course Description

Requirements define the future. They express conditions that their author expects the future to fulfill. Unfortunately, the word “requirement” has become a four-letter-word in many organizations, particularly when the requirements define a future Information Technology (IT) application. The reason? Nearly every independently executed, root-cause analysis of IT project problems and failures in the past half-century have identified “misunderstood or incomplete requirements” as the primary cause. This has made requirements the bane of many projects. The real problem is the subtle differences between “understanding” someone else’s requirement and “sharing a common understanding” with the author.

"Writing Better Requirements in Plain English" gives you a set of 3 simple rules that will make your requirement statements more easily understood by all target audiences. The focus is to increase the “common understanding” between the author of a requirement and the solution providers (e.g., in-house or outsourced IT designers, developers, analysts, and vendors).

This course is the first in a series of three that will dramatically reduce the failure rate of projects suffering from poor requirements. Regardless of your job title or role, if you are tasked with communicating your future needs to others, this course will help. It is interactive (includes exercises with instant feedback), instructionally designed (based on modern learning theory), and "intellimated™" (uses animated visuals with an accompanying audio track) to hold your interest and increase retention.

What are the requirements?

  • No technical background required
  • Desire to define user requirements for IT
  • Interest in the field of business analysis
  • HTML5 compatible browser for exercises (quizzes)
  • No additional materials are required

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Explain the value and benefits of good requirement statements
  • Reduce the number of wrong assumptions by using a question file
  • Create a common understanding of your requirements by writing well-formed requirement statements
  • Express requirements at the right level of detail using the "what-not-how" rule
  • Identify components of a business information system to find missing requirements
  • Confirm that your requirements are in scope for your project
  • Apply 3 simple rules to create technology-independent, component-focused requirements

What is the target audience?

  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Product Owners
  • Business Process Managers
  • Business Process Users
  • Product and Project Managers
  • Line Managers
  • Business System Analysts
  • Anyone wearing the BA hat!

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: Setting the Stage
06:22
  • Introduction
  • Learning Objectives
  • The Problem with Requirements
  • The Benefits of Effective Requirements

"An Overview of Business Analysis for Information Technology" below is a video that will give you a bird’s-eyes view of the field of Business Analysis including requirements. The other links are articles on the problems and/or benefits of requirements.

08:14
  • The Uncertainty Principle
  • What Do You Really Know?
  • THE Question File
Article

This exercise will make you aware of how challenging effective communication can be.

03:07

A brief look at some real-life examples of communication problems.

Section 2: Capturing Requirements
07:43
  • Express Each Requirement as a Simple Sentence
  • Reducing Complexity Increases Comprehension
  • A Complete Sentence Forces a Complete Thought
  • Structured Requirement Statements

Are you working in an Agile Environment? The video "User Stories: Agile Requirements Definition (Part 1)" below might interest you:

Article

This exercise will test your interpretation of Rule 1.

04:18
  • Focus on “What”, Not “How”
  • Consider the Business Result, Not the IT Solution

This lecture introduces the second rule for writing better requirements in plain English. For those working in an Agile environment, watch our YouTube video below (User Stories: What, Not How) that describes rule 2 using User Stories.

Article

This exercise will test your interpretation of Rule 2.

Section 3: Requirements and Project Scope
04:02
  • Enforce Your Project Scope
  • The Project Scope Statement
  • Defining Scope at the Component Level
Article

This exercise will test your ability to brainstorm common components of a business solution containing an IT application.

04:39
  • Focused Requirements Minimize Misinterpretations
  • Relevant Requirements Reduce Project Effort
  • Identifying Relevant Requirements

If you are working in an Agile environment you might be more interested in our video below "User Stories: Defining IT Requirements (Part 3)".

Article

This exercise will test your ability to extrapolate components from requirement statements.

Section 4: In Closing
01:06

Presents a detailed overview of the first three rules for writing better requirements in plain English.

"Writing Requirements" is a small part of the field of business analysis. If you would like to know more about other common business analysis techniques watch our very popular YouTube video below (What Techniques Do Business Analysts Use? )

Article

This comprehensive exercise will test your interpretation of all three rules combined by presenting you with a different scenario and a set of associated requirement statements.

00:33

The material covered in this course is also available as an instructor-led course (see below - Online BA training How To Write Effective User Requirements for IT BA-EXPERTS).

If you are working in an Agile environment you might be more interested in our instructor-led course "Techniques for Eliciting, Documenting, and Analyzing Stakeholder Needs in User Story Format" (see below - Online BA training How To Write Effective User Requirements for IT BA-EXPERTS).

The remainder of links are additional tips on the topic of "Writing Effective Requirements".

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Instructor Biography

Tom and Angela Hathaway, BA-EXPERTS: Business Analysis for Anyone Wearing the BA Hat

Tom has been in business analysis since long before it was called business analysis. He has over 30 years experience in the fields of information technology, methodologies, and business analysis. In his writings and lectures he strives for enlightening while entertaining. As a facilitator, he achieves results through inclusion and synergistic group-building. He has taught thousands of students business and systems analysis skills since the '80's and has facilitated hundreds of requirements discovery sessions under a variety of acronyms (JAD, ASAP, JADr, JRP, etc).

Angela and Tom Hathaway (previously Hathaway & Associates, Inc. and Requirements Solutions Group, LLC) founded BA-EXPERTS in 2011. As a team, Angela and Tom have trained, consulted, mentored and coached thousands of business analysts around the world for organizations from small businesses to Fortune 100. Hundreds of current and past customers include TIAA-CREF (Financial), Cathay Pacific (Airline), Manitoba Telecom Services (Telecommunications), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Hospitality), government agencies, and a myriad of organizations spanning all sizes and industries. Our training, consulting, and mentoring efforts have saved our customers around the world millions and can help your organization improve its business analysis practices

Instructor Biography

Daniel Myers, Senior Instructor at BA-EXPERTS

Dan has been in Business Analysis since 1978. He has over 35 years of experience in the fields of information technology, methodologies, requirements engineering, and business analysis. He authored three business analysis methodologies, and ten workshops (2-5 days) focused on the business analysis discipline. With these tools he trained and consulted with over five-hundred medium-sized to Fortune 100 companies on five continents. He also developed an “ASAP” methodology that would later be known as JAD, (IBM’s name).

Some of his customers were LL Bean, Smuckers, and other retailers, Lilly, Merck and other pharmaceuticals, Air Canada, United Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and other airlines, BlueCross, Cigna, Vanguard and other insurers, 6 of 7 of the largest companies in the state of Maine, Anchorage Municipal (government, police, fire, public schools, etc.), US Army, and numerous other government agencies and companies.

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