Sunday, April 21, 2002

If you frequently read this page or its sister, Postcards from the Revolution, you'll quickly discover that we are strong proponents of requirement management. Get the requirements wrong and your project will either fail or, at best, exceed your budget. There are a number of methods for eliciting, documenting and managing requirements, but the best ones involve workshops where the major stakeholders are involved. There are three methods that amploy workshops and stakeholder involvement:
  1. Participatory Design (PD)
  2. Rapid Development (RD), sometimes called rapid application development (RAD)
  3. Joint Application Development (JAD)
I recently read a groundbreaking book titled Requirements by Collaboration that synthesizes the best of PD, RD and JAD. To this synthesis it adds modern elements such as business rules.

To understand why this book is a ground breaking work a little history is in order:

Each of these approaches have one thing in common: participatory requirements elicitation accomplished in a workshop setting.

Most of the previous documents about these approaches focused on general aspects of workshop management and requirements. Although this book certainly addresses these two aspects, it goes beyond.

This book is structured in three parts and 12 chapters. Part I covers the basics of constructing a workshop and provides a comprehensive list of deliverables. The author's web site that supports this book provides checklists and templates in Word and PDF format, which will save you time. The web site also has links to other resources that will prove extremely useful. Part II provides the workshop framework, covering logistics, managing roles and ground rules and the workshop process itself. Part III addresses the strategies for conducting the workshop. What I particularly like about this book are:

The approach set forth is effective and thoroughly modernizes the approaches that were synthesized. More importantly it provides a structure in which to conduct participatory workshops, and clearly defines the types of goals you should be setting based on the business problem, and clear definitions of the deliverables that the workshop should produce. This book goes into my short list of best books read in 2002, and I suspect it will remain on my short list of recommended books for years to come.

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