Requirements Management Processes

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in a master’s program in Technology Management at Columbia. As part of that, I’m working on a master’s project, which I’ve decided to do in the realm of requirements and specifications management, mostly because I’ve never seen it done well and would like to understand the field better for my own benefit.

I’ve been struggling a bit because I don’t have a good model to follow. At the companies I have been part of, it’s always been done with somebody slapping requirements together in Microsoft Word, which gets signed off on at the management level without the engineers ever being consulted, and then never looked at again. I’m starting my market survey, and know that there are a bunch of solutions at the enterprise level, like Rational or iRise, but haven’t yet found anything that works for smaller companies like the ones I typically work at.

So if you’re reading this blog, and feel like sharing, how do you manage requirements at your company? Do you use software or is it done via Word or a wiki? Who’s involved in the process? What signoffs do you use?

I’m not going to use any of this information specifically in my project – I’m just trying to get leads on models to follow and to collect anecdotal evidence on how this process works at other small companies. Any pointers or references you could provide would be welcomed. Feel free to contact me offline if you’d prefer.

3 thoughts on “Requirements Management Processes

  1. Requirements? What are those?

    You could probably regard my division at work as a small company. Generally speaking, I don’t think we ever have formal requirements docs because it’s not worth the effort. Most projects are tackled by few enough people that you really only need a TODO list that you wrote up after a meeting. I’d say that’s probably true for any project involving 3 or fewer people.

    I guess in some sense a grant proposal functions as a requirements doc for larger projects, especially if they involve people from different institutions. We did have a meeting a couple weeks ago where we hashed out who is doing what for a large simulation effort, and the end result of that is a Word doc. We may also use Basecamp to keep people on track with deadlines.

    I have a friend who’s working at a startup that uses an ‘agile’ approach. IIRC, they have a meeting each week where everyone discusses what needs to be done, and they use a voting/consensus process to prioritize and assign tasks. I think their requirements doc is a whiteboard. I could ask for more details; send me email.

  2. There are lower-cost products targeted at different aspects of requirements analysis.
    We’ve developed Lucid Spec to help non-programmers develop GUI prototypes and capture related requirements. We’re always interested in feedback and suggestions.

    Clif Kussmaul
    CTO, Elegance Technologies, Inc.

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