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25 August 2009

Business requirements versus stakeholder requirements

A question was asked onthe Requirements Engineering discussion group about the difference between business requirements versus stakeholder requirements.

Can you answer that without looking the answer up somewhere?

It's a problematic question because the terms don't have plain english definitions; they are both jargon, and so you have to make your way through various industry definitions to find an acceptable, and probably compromised answer.

Let me run a few things by you;

'The business' is a term used by various technical service providers to differentiate themselves from the actual business they work for.  So your developers may call the BA team they work with 'the business' and the BAs themselves may call the sales and operations community 'the business.' (I haven't often heard it used to refer to senior C-level management.)

This separation of identity is problematic in its own right, but let's not go there today.

Frankly, 'the business' is an innacurate phrase and actually means 'stakeholder requirements' but with a limited view of which stakeholders are important.  Is it worthwhile trying to drop the use of this phrase?

Maybe, as it's true that not all stakeholders are equal and in fact understanding - or clearly calling out - the difference between a stakeholder requirement versus a sponsor requirement may go a long way to sharing the effort required to deliver your project.

Thoughts?