Five Fundamental Steps to Requirement Analysis in Software Development

A successful project always starts with an effective requirement analysis and requirements evaluation activities. Upon the completion of requirements elicitation, business analysts need to structure and organize requirements discovered in the elicitation process, specify and model requirements, ensure the requirements that align with business objectives and identify the solution options that potentially address business needs.

No matter which development method to adopt (Agile Vs. Waterfall), requirements analysis is always a continually ongoing process. The following five steps are the critical factors to facilitate a successful requirement analysis process.

Five Steps to Effective Requirements Analysis

1. Requirements Modelling and Abstraction

With a clear structure communicating requirements and knowledge, a model can visualize and convey specific information to stakeholders. Business analysts can either use diagrams or matrices format to identify and communicate with the audience under certain categories, including activity flow, capability and data information. Matrices can be used to display data dictionaries and requirements attributes whilst diagrams are more pictorial in depicting complex message, such as information flow, data transition and hierarchies of items. Once the requirements are modelled, specifying activities will be carried out in order to present requirements and accompanied attributes. With the assistance of the requirements classification schema, each requirement will be categorized with a certain level of abstraction, together with appropriate traceability between different requirement types.

2. Verify Requirements

The purpose of verifying requirements is to ensure that the specified and modelled requirements meet the standard internally so they can be used for the purpose of the project. When commencing with requirements verification, it’s essential to adopt certain criteria in order to develop high-quality requirements. Verified requirements should be specific, measurable, atomic, concise, relevant, testable, understandable and prioritised.

3. Validate Requirements

Verified requirements can’t be directly used in solution options. Business analysts still need to check if all requirements could align with the business needs and support the delivery of business value. If the requirements don’t reflect stakeholders’ expectation towards a future state, the potential solution shall not exert any positive impact on business goals and results. During this process, the conflicting needs or expectation between different stakeholder groups will be also identified and stressed. Defining measurable evaluation criteria is of great importance prior to evaluating alignment with solution scope. The measurable evaluation criteria will be used to assess how successful the results will be upon the implementation of the solution. If the requirements can’t be validated, business analysts, along with other key stakeholders need to revisit the requirements to ensure that the requirements benefit the organisation and fit into the solution scope.

4. Create Design Options

Aiming to allocate requirements to solution components and match design options to achieve desired results, design options shall be identified in order to meet certain requirements. There is no one-fit-in-all option as each of the design options has strategic trade-offs or other implementation constraints, which could potentially exert an impact on particular stakeholders. Business analysts must evaluate the trade-offs and the values delivered to the stakeholders. When creating design options, incorporating improvement opportunities and requirements allocation is critical. Given the future state, the key elements of a design option include the business operation process to be performed and managed, those who involved in decision making, supplier relationship management and software components used in the solution.

5. Recommend Solution

Solution recommendation usually starts with potential value evaluation, so to select the most appropriate solution that best fits into the organisation’s interests. Potential value can be proposed from a finance, marketing and corporate social impact perspective. Positive values include reduced cost, improved productivity, compliance with policies, satisfied customers, increased brand awareness and brand recognition and improved user experience etc. Stakeholders need to prioritise those expected values based on the benefits it’s associated with the organisation as a whole, rather than an individual group. Considering the potential value each solution brings, along with its associated dependencies or constraints, business analysts shall suggest the most valuable solution to align with business need.