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2 January 2011

Wikipedia: Requirements Analysis

Hi Readers,  The Wikipedia article on Requirements Analysis needs your help.  I read it and thought that it exhibited a lot of what is troubling the practice of requirements management in general.  Take a look yourself.

(I should also highlight that I got to the Requirements Analysis page when I was actually searching for the Requirements Engineering page.  They have been merged in an awkward way, with an assumption that the two concepts are the same.)

I have added the below comment to the discussion page of the Requirements Analysis page.  What do you think?  Either offer your comments below, or add your weight to the actual discussion on Wikipedia.

Time for a rewrite?

Firstly I'd like to acknowledge the fine work done by authors and contributors to get this article to it's current state. I think it's sufficient to give a new requirements engineer/analysts insight into some key issues.

However, when it comes down to it this article needs some solid rework. Apart from the conflation between requirements engineering and analysis there are a number of issues. In many ways this article exhibits the characteristics of poor requirements cited by academics and industry observers and is the anti-thesis of what a good requirements analysis description should be.

I don't want to jump in half-cocked so I want to pose some questions to start, get a bit of discussion and then look to either some major reshaping of the content or developing a framework for continuous small improvements.

  • What is requirements analysis?
    • Is it a subset of a requirements engineering process?
    • Does a new Requirements Engineering page need to be (re) created?
    • Is Requirements Analysis a sub-system or sub-process of any higher level models? 
      • For example; I think it's an activity in the Business Analysts Body of Knowledge AND a process step in the Requirements Engineering (and Software engineering) paradigms.
  • Who performs Requirements Analysis?
    • Examples I can think of; Business Analysts, Software engineers, Product Managers, and Process Managers. No doubt there are more.
  • Why is Requirements Analysis performed?
    • There is a cost for doing this work. What's the benefit? 
    • Is there any variation in value and importance based upon who is doing the work? 
      • For example a software engineer is probably approaching an issue with a different focus to a process manager.
    • What is the contribution of good requirements analysis to business and project outcomes?
  • Where is requirements analysis performed?
    • Some examples that spring to mind include; Software houses, Product development labs, "enterprises" (i.e. large companies and government dept's.) 
    • Got More?
  • How is requirements analysis performed?
    • There are so many approaches that this article should probably only refer to schools of thought. 
    • I guess the argument around software engineering could inform this. I don't know enough to break this down into a manageable list.
    • Are there any universal best practices? (I think so.)
    • Are there any industry controversies around approaches to Requirements Analysis?
      • E.g. Degree of forward planning needed, SSADM and Agile, System versus Business requirements, and so on. There is a pretty long list of opportunity for this section.
  • Industry information
    • Annual conferences
    • Requirements analysis (and engineering) journals
    • Industry bodies and reference guides

Anything else?  What ideas do you have?