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Unified Project Requirements Understanding - Elimination of contextually implicit requirements using Complex Variable Anaylsis

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000244670D
Publication Date: 2016-Jan-06
Document File: 3 page(s) / 33K

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The IP.com Prior Art Database


Clarity in project requirements is a major factor to a successful project and in industries such as in software development, the written requirements is the key input in many cases. In executing the project successfully and with less challenges and issues, all stakeholders – the users(business), architects, developers, testers have to understand the documented requirements similarly. However with each carrying different project contexts, the phrases and sentences in requirements could be interpreted differently by each and establishing the commonality in understanding of the requirements is key to project’s success and to satisfaction of all stakeholders. Upto 20% late stage defects detected were tracked to the leveled understanding of the project requirements. The common cause was the differing interpretations of contextually-implicit requirements. The method proposed in this paper applying complex variable analysis (CVA) provides an intuitive and simple way for the different roles in the project teams to review the requirements of their deliverables. Documenting the phrases in sentences that could be interpreted to contextually-implicit requirements through color coding with the specific questions to the authors was the preparation for inputs to the joint workshops with the authors and brought a rigor to this process step. This method required minimal training of the team members who applied CVA method to identify and resolve such contextually-implicit requirements, reducing the schedule and technical risks for the projects. This has increased the project team members’ confidence of the project output meeting stakeholders’ needs. Well specified and understood requirements is key to ensuring project success and high customer satisfaction.

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Unified Project Requirements Understanding - Elimination of contextually implicit requirements using Complex Variable Anaylsis


In complex projects with multiple teams participating in the different phases of the lifecycle, determining gaps in requirements at business or system level in later phases in the lifecycle is expensive. With specific reference to software development, where commonly understood engineering drawings cannot be commonly interpreted by all the teams, misunderstood requirements are common. Several methods have been undertaken to reduce this requirement gap assessment from joint workshops, requirements analysis using text analytics and sentiment determination. One facet that leads to the requirement gaps is the implicit understanding held by different team members in the different phases and lack of detailing this well enough in the requirements documentation

An approach is discussed in this paper in application of the complex variable theory in a simplified form to analysis of requirements. This method is simple and can be completed in a short time (matter of couple of hours) for a project and with a documentation format that allows the analysis to determine the ambiguities in understanding of requirements as specified by an author and the team implementing it in another phase.. Reduction of these ambiguities across the teams can bring down the count of requirement gaps leading to achievement of project goals and satisfaction to all stakeholders.

While the proposed method is equally applicable to all types of projects across industries, this

paper has specific focus on software development and enhancement projects as one embodiment of application of this method and approach. Hence references to project lifecycle phases, roles and work products are drawn from the software industry.

Contextually implicit requirements

Business and Technical Requirements are written by business process engineers and system engineers who have a close understanding of the business and are specialists in the business flows serving their company and products. Such documents created can have several implicit or implied assumptions and understandings when describing the requirements of the product or

project. Several of such implicit assumptions are also dependent on the project/product/company context and coloured by the context. When such documents are handled downstream to create the technical requirements, these implied information and contextually implicit information are carried a level further. The designers, developers and testers using the technical requirements document will build on top of the information contained therein. Several specifications in these higher level documents that contain such implied or implicit or contextually implicit information could lead to different understandings in the lower levels during implementation. Such conditions of differences in the understanding are sources of gaps leading to...