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Re: New article: "Ideas," not "Requirements"

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  • Jeff Grigg
    ... I ve been challenging the word requirements too. How can you say that this thing is a *REQUIREMENT*, when the business is doing just fine right now
    Message 1 of 8 , Jul 1, 2005
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      --- Jim Shore <jshore@t...> wrote:
      > "I've been working with a customer to help them define a
      > custom agile process. One of the first things I've been
      > doing is looking at where software requirements come from
      > and how they're prioritized."
      >
      > Find my new article at
      > http://www.jamesshore.com/Blog/Ideas_Not_Requirements.html.

      I've been challenging the word "requirements" too. "How can you say
      that this thing is a *REQUIREMENT*, when the business is doing just
      fine right now without it? In what sense is is objectively
      required???"

      "Ideas." Now there's a nice idea. ;-> One possible shortcoming,
      however: I'm looking for ideas that people are willing to *pay*
      for. "Hey, I have an idea!" I say, "We could paint the house
      pink." However, nobody really wants the house to be pink. So
      something's missing there.

      I think that the things masquerading as "requirements" today aren't
      really requirements. They are (hopefully) things that people want
      enough to pay for them. If I'm implementing things that no one
      wants enough to be willing to pay for them, then I think that
      someone is misusing someone else's money. :-[
    • Jim Standley
      We frequently have a requirement that is one of five equally acceptable solutions to a business problem. If we find that one of the others would be much
      Message 2 of 8 , Jul 1, 2005
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        We frequently have a "requirement" that is one of five equally
        acceptable solutions to a business problem. If we find that one of the
        others would be much cheaper to build, it takes an act of Congress to
        change the fool thing. I'd rather see the "requirement" as solving the
        problem with more leeway in implementing it. I sent the article about
        "ideas" to the whole team.

        Jeff Grigg wrote:
        > --- Jim Shore <jshore@t...> wrote:
        >
        >>"I've been working with a customer to help them define a
        >>custom agile process. One of the first things I've been
        >>doing is looking at where software requirements come from
        >>and how they're prioritized."
        >>
        >>Find my new article at
        >>http://www.jamesshore.com/Blog/Ideas_Not_Requirements.html.
        >
        >
        > I've been challenging the word "requirements" too. "How can you say
        > that this thing is a *REQUIREMENT*, when the business is doing just
        > fine right now without it? In what sense is is objectively
        > required???"
        >
        > "Ideas." Now there's a nice idea. ;-> One possible shortcoming,
        > however: I'm looking for ideas that people are willing to *pay*
        > for. "Hey, I have an idea!" I say, "We could paint the house
        > pink." However, nobody really wants the house to be pink. So
        > something's missing there.
        >
        > I think that the things masquerading as "requirements" today aren't
        > really requirements. They are (hopefully) things that people want
        > enough to pay for them. If I'm implementing things that no one
        > wants enough to be willing to pay for them, then I think that
        > someone is misusing someone else's money. :-[
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
        >
        > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
        >
        > ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • aacockburn
        I prefer Kent Beck s word: wishes . see http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?RequirementsVsWishes
        Message 3 of 8 , Jul 2, 2005
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          I prefer Kent Beck's word: "wishes".
          see http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?RequirementsVsWishes
          <<Requirement: n. that which is required; a thing demanded or
          obligatory.

          This is exactly the wrong word for this thing. In my projects, I
          often deliver a quarter of the original "things demanded or
          obligatory", and I still get paid. Either I do a terrible job of
          writing down these things, or they aren't actually "demanded or
          obligatory". If the latter, we should use a different word to denote
          them.

          I nominate wishes, as in "What are the wishes for the project so
          far?" "How have the wishes changed in the last week?" This puts us in
          the (perhaps uncomfortable) position of wish fulfillment, a
          ProgramFairy?. -- KentBeck
          >>

          I recently found it handy to refer to the use cases we had just
          collected as "the users' wishes" -- this worked well even to the
          users and stakeholders as well as the programming team. I couldn't
          have gotten as much mileage saying "the users' ideas".

          Alistair





          --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Jim Standley
          <jimstandley@a...> wrote:
          > We frequently have a "requirement" that is one of five equally
          > acceptable solutions to a business problem. If we find that one of
          the
          > others would be much cheaper to build, it takes an act of Congress
          to
          > change the fool thing. I'd rather see the "requirement" as solving
          the
          > problem with more leeway in implementing it. I sent the article
          about
          > "ideas" to the whole team.
          >
          > Jeff Grigg wrote:
          > > --- Jim Shore <jshore@t...> wrote:
          > >
          > >>"I've been working with a customer to help them define a
          > >>custom agile process. One of the first things I've been
          > >>doing is looking at where software requirements come from
          > >>and how they're prioritized."
          > >>
          > >>Find my new article at
          > >>http://www.jamesshore.com/Blog/Ideas_Not_Requirements.html.
          > >
          > >
          > > I've been challenging the word "requirements" too. "How can you
          say
          > > that this thing is a *REQUIREMENT*, when the business is doing
          just
          > > fine right now without it? In what sense is is objectively
          > > required???"
          > >
          > > "Ideas." Now there's a nice idea. ;-> One possible
          shortcoming,
          > > however: I'm looking for ideas that people are willing to *pay*
          > > for. "Hey, I have an idea!" I say, "We could paint the house
          > > pink." However, nobody really wants the house to be pink. So
          > > something's missing there.
          > >
          > > I think that the things masquerading as "requirements" today
          aren't
          > > really requirements. They are (hopefully) things that people
          want
          > > enough to pay for them. If I'm implementing things that no one
          > > wants enough to be willing to pay for them, then I think that
          > > someone is misusing someone else's money. :-[
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@e...
          > >
          > > To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to: extremeprogramming-
          unsubscribe@e...
          > >
          > > ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com
          > > Yahoo! Groups Links
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
        • David Hecksel
          I think getting away from the word requirement completely is problematic. There are requirements, optional requirements, desired features/functionality, and
          Message 4 of 8 , Jul 17, 2005
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            I think getting away from the word "requirement" completely is
            problematic. There are requirements, optional requirements,
            desired features/functionality, and future requirements.

            Strict requirements can come from:

            - government mandates / law changes that must be done and
            supported by an exact timeframe (with substantive penalities or
            revenue loss if not done)
            * both functional and reporting requirements
            - competitive pressures ( changes from competition )
            The business says if we don't match or improve what the
            competitor has we will lose 30% of our revenue in 6 months.
            That's pretty much a "requirement" ( or a decision to go out
            of business )
            - Mandate from corporate. Ie, we are introducing this product
            on MM/DD/YYYY with this new pricing/ordering scheme (assumes
            there is a new pricing mechanism. Our order management
            systems must support this new product / marketing
            promotion / recommendation engine / ... because it is
            tied to a holiday promotion, national advertising campaign , ... -
            something with an inflexible date and driven by another
            activity (and directly linked to that activity). Another
            example is supporting a new partner / partner sales program.
            If publicly announced to customers that it will be available
            on MM/DD/YYYY, supporting orders from and/or shipments to that
            partner is more than an idea

            I think substituting "ideas" for future requirements, potential
            requirements or items on an existing optional requirements list
            is a better way to use the term "Idea". The Business group can
            have real requirements that are more than ideas. I find the
            best ideas originating outside the business group coming from
            the hands on architect or a very good technical writer (someone who
            is software saavy and also has usability knowledge).

            The use of "idea" I like, and I encourage further thinking along
            that line. But I caution a "one glove fits all" approach to
            eliminating the word "Requirement" and changing it to "Idea".

            Regards,

            David Hecksel
            http://davidhecksel.com/about.html

            --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Grigg"
            <jeffgrigg@c...> wrote:
            > --- Jim Shore <jshore@t...> wrote:
            > > "I've been working with a customer to help them define a
            > > custom agile process. One of the first things I've been
            > > doing is looking at where software requirements come from
            > > and how they're prioritized."
            > >
            > > Find my new article at
            > > http://www.jamesshore.com/Blog/Ideas_Not_Requirements.html.
            >
            > I've been challenging the word "requirements" too. "How can you say
            > that this thing is a *REQUIREMENT*, when the business is doing just
            > fine right now without it? In what sense is is objectively
            > required???"
            >
            > "Ideas." Now there's a nice idea. ;-> One possible shortcoming,
            > however: I'm looking for ideas that people are willing to *pay*
            > for. "Hey, I have an idea!" I say, "We could paint the house
            > pink." However, nobody really wants the house to be pink. So
            > something's missing there.
            >
            > I think that the things masquerading as "requirements" today aren't
            > really requirements. They are (hopefully) things that people want
            > enough to pay for them. If I'm implementing things that no one
            > wants enough to be willing to pay for them, then I think that
            > someone is misusing someone else's money. :-[
          • Brad Appleton
            Interesting response David. I tend to call them all requests , and to me the difference is one of granularity: a requirement is the smallest possible testable
            Message 5 of 8 , Jul 18, 2005
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              Interesting response David. I tend to call them all "requests", and to
              me the difference is one of granularity: a requirement is the smallest
              possible testable unit of behavior. A "request" may encompass one or
              more requirements, which together from a complete concept/idea from the
              perspective of the requestor.

              So from your perspective, are "Requirements" and "Ideas" simply
              different "states" of a request?

              I know of some shops that use a formal gated progression of incoming
              requests.:
              * They are initially called "ideas", and
              * if the basic idea is "accepted" it gets elaborated a bit more and
              becomes a "concept"
              * if the concept is accepted, as business case is developed, and if that
              is accepted, it becomes a "proposal"
              * if the "proposal" is accepted, it gets elaborated even more, and
              depending on the scope/scale of the request, it might become a
              "portfolio", or a "capability" or a "feature" or a "project" or an
              "enhancement"

              I like Dave Astel's idea of calling these requirements thingies
              "behaviors". A behavior would be the smallest possible testable unit of
              functionality. A behavior might have an attribute or priority associated
              withg it noting its criticality and how mandatory-vs-optional it is.

              David Hecksel wrote:
              > I think substituting "ideas" for future requirements, potential
              > requirements or items on an existing optional requirements list
              > is a better way to use the term "Idea". The Business group can
              > have real requirements that are more than ideas. I find the
              > best ideas originating outside the business group coming from
              > the hands on architect or a very good technical writer (someone who
              > is software saavy and also has usability knowledge).
              >
              > The use of "idea" I like, and I encourage further thinking along
              > that line. But I caution a "one glove fits all" approach to
              > eliminating the word "Requirement" and changing it to "Idea".
              >

              --
              Brad Appleton <brad@...> www.bradapp.net
              Software CM Patterns (www.scmpatterns.com)
              Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration
              "And miles to go before I sleep" --Robert Frost
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