8 June 2008

Requirements Re-use - Myth or reality?

Years ago, back when RM tools were in their infancy, (are they mature yet?) I advocated to my employer that a database of requirements would be a great idea.

It would save time in eliciting requirements, socialising them across management and stakeholder team and constructing requirements documents

The database, if implemented, would create a more consistent approach to requirements which would in turn make solution design faster and cheaper and provide a platform for better solution architecture and better requirements (through review and continual improvement activities.)

I understand they have now implemented such a database, but it doesn’t look what I had in mind, and it doesn’t come with the management processes (above) that I had wrapped around the database.

That experience and my other experiences in large enterprises lead me to conclude that capacity for requirements re-use is a rare talent, and that, for most businesses there are a lot of other investment priorities ahead in the queue.

The development of the BA and Enterprise Architecture professions are steps towards capability for re-use of requirements, but really, it’s not effectively happening anywhere I have worked.

It’s coming, but… it’s a rare enterprise that has it organised at this stage.

Have a look at this model I put together and think about the issues involved in requirements re-use. Are your requirements re-useable for other projects for the same system? Will they be useable on other system developments within your existing programme? Will they be re-useable on totally new projects?

Overlay the ideas against the People, Process and Technology lenses and have a think about the issues you could face.

What’s re-useable on your project?


  1. Anonymous5:41 pm

    Hi Craig,

    I am one of your 3,000 regular readers!

    Patrick Byrne and I built a module of non-functional requirements in the TARDIS knowledge management system Defence uses. The module has over 10,000 requirements categorised by environment, platform type and so on.

    You can find some presentations on TARDIS at this link - http://www.durantlaw.info/TARDIS+Presentations . There are also some peer reviewed papers which can e found on this page http://www.durantlaw.info/Peer+Reviewed+Papers .

    Our whole premise in TARDIS was one of reuse. Non-functional requirements are a classic case in point. Let me know if you would like to know more.

    Regards Graham

  2. Graham

    Yes, and I have been known to read your blog from time to time also!

    I suppose it's not surprising thet the Defense industry is more mature about requirements management than the priovate sector. After all that is where this whole project management thing has come from.

    Thanks for the links. I shall pay a visit soon.

  3. Anonymous4:58 am

    Hi Craig

    I'm a student and a project manager and on the way to write my Bachelor Thesis on this subject. I really like your model! Did you write any more on this subject? Or do you know good literature on it? I've read about 10 books about requirements management but I didn't find any good approach to deal with. in my oppinion requirements should not be related to a project, they should be related to the business, the products or the enterprise. A project should only take the requirements, change them, develop them and give them back to the "enterprise knowhow".

    Emanuel Fl├╝ck, emanuel_flueck@yahoo.com, Switzerland

  4. Emanuel

    I have just started reading a book by Ron Ross about business rules. While I am only part way through it does resonate with my ideas and approaches. Check his work out.