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Requirements management using Volere

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I first encountered the Volere methodology when I bought about half a dozen books from Amazon on the subject of requirements gathering and management in 2000. It’d become apparent to me that requirements management was the least understood process in the projects that I had worked on over the past few years and, although I didn’t usually have direct responsibility for it, I wanted to understand it better to try to improve it.

Most of the books were helpful to some degree but the one that stood out by offering a straightforward and practical methodology was Mastering the Requirements Process by Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson. I changed jobs around the same time and found that I was much more involved in the processes upstream of design and implementation and got the chance to put the Volere methodology to the test. As might be expected, I needed to get experience on a few projects before I was really using it properly but it quickly proved to be as practical as its proponents claimed.

The method is based on documenting requirements on index cards in a particular format. I never used physical index cards but used Word documents for the first few projects and then wrote a small application that imitated the index card format. This made it possible to implement additional functionality such as automatically checking the dependencies between requirements.

I also found it extremely useful to create a two page bullet point list of all the requirements categories documented in the Volere template. Simply working through this list from start to finish is a good way of checking and confirming that you’re remembered to cover all the requirements for a project – not just the functional requirements of the software solution but also, for example, the environment it will be deployed to, the testing process, and the deployment.

At first it might seem a bit too simple – surely requirements management ought to be more complicated than this ? Well, you can add complexity if you like but once you start using it you begin to understand that the apparent simplicity is in fact a well designed methodology built on hard won experience.

If you’re interested in Volere then there’s a second edition of the Mastering the Requirements Process (Addison Wesley, March 2006) and a website at http://www.volere.co.uk/.

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Written by Sea Monkey

February 16, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Posted in Development

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