What Are Requirements — Really?

Requirements define things that a product or service is supposed to do to satisfy the needs of the client and deliver expected business value. A more formal definition is given by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) in “A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge”:

“A requirement is:

(1) A condition or capability needed by a stakeholder to solve a problem or achieve an objective.

(2) A condition or capability that must be met or possessed by a solution or solution component to satisfy a contract, standard, specification, or other formally imposed documents.

A documented representation of a condition or capability as in (1) or (2).”

That is all well and good and I'm not going to challenge the definition. I assume it does what it is supposed to do. But let me offer a different perspective for your consideration and practical application. I believe we execute a complex project to solve a critical problem heretofore unsolved or take advantage of an untapped business opportunity. Two things link the deliverables:

  • The need to deliver business value — The more the better
  • Complexity and uncertainty — All of the simple projects have been done

Generating business value is really the only measure of project success. I've long felt that the criterion for defining project success as meeting a specification within the constraints of time and cost is misdirected. It really ignores the business, the client, and organizational satisfaction. ...

Get Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme, Sixth Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.