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  • Writer's pictureCraig Risi

The importance of having detailed technical requirements in software development

Over the past few weeks, I've had several discussions with teams about the details in their user stories and the existence of proper technical requirements for their software. Too many teams have gone for a lightweight approach to requirements writing and are starting to realize the pain of not having their software design clearly articulated so I thought I would spend my next few blog post looking at this topic in a little more detail.

Requirements are a vital aspect of software development. They direct what software engineering teams need to build and provide guidance on how the software should operate. However, with the shift towards Agile methodologies, there has been an increased focus on user stories to capture the needs of the user personas. This shift has led to less emphasis on detailed requirements, favoring a more flexible and open-ended approach. While this theoretically grants development teams more freedom to innovate and determine the best solutions independently, it often results in ambiguity, inconsistent development and testing standards, and a lack of comprehensive understanding. This can ultimately slow down the teams.

Clear requirements that align business needs with the technical aspects of the software are crucial for accelerating delivery and enhancing overall quality. Testing and retesting often consume the most time in delivery cycles. Refining requirements to support quicker test automation and seamless pipeline deployment can significantly reduce the added time.

Developing comprehensive technical requirements may initially require considerable effort. However, this process can be effective and impactful if analysts collaborate closely with architects, technical leads, quality leads, and business SMEs. The improved speed and quality resulting from well-defined requirements justify the initial effort.

As software development and analysis mature, the creation of detailed technical requirements will become faster. Established technical components and clear identification processes will streamline this task, making it easier to implement high-quality solutions quickly.

Below is some more info on how detailed technical requirements can improve the overall software development experience.

Importance of Detailed Technical Requirements

  1. Clarity and Precision Detailed Specifications: Technical requirements provide clear and precise specifications for what needs to be built. This reduces ambiguity and ensures everyone understands what is expected.

  2. Consistent understanding: It helps ensure that all stakeholders (developers, testers, project managers, etc.) have a consistent understanding of the system's functionality and constraints.

  3. Reducing Risk Identifying potential issues early: Detailed requirements help identify potential technical challenges and risks early in the project lifecycle, allowing for proactive mitigation.

  4. Avoiding scope creep: Clear requirements help prevent scope creep by defining exactly what is to be delivered, making it easier to manage changes.

  5. Improving Quality Defining acceptance criteria: Detailed requirements include acceptance criteria that define how success will be measured, ensuring that the delivered system meets the desired quality standards.

  6. Enhanced testing: They enable the creation of comprehensive test plans and test cases, leading to more thorough testing and higher quality outcomes.

  7. Facilitating Communication Common language: Technical requirements serve as a common language between developers, testers, and non-technical stakeholders, improving communication and collaboration.

  8. Stakeholder alignment: They help align all stakeholders on the project’s goals and deliverables, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts.

  9. Efficient Resource Management Resource planning: Detailed requirements aid in accurate resource planning and estimation, ensuring that the right resources are allocated at the right time.

  10. Cost control: They help in managing costs by defining what is in scope and what is out of scope, leading to better budget control.

Importance of Aligning Business and Technical Needs

The challenge with creating requirements is that it is very difficult for the various analysts to write these requirements to balance the needed application and business knowledge with a deep technical understanding of the software. however, that is what is expected of an industry pushing for deeper technical understanding to improve the overall design.

This is not completely feasible given the depth of skills and experience required to do this right. As a result, perhaps the most important skill required of an analyst is not their strength of knowledge on either side, but rather their ability to communicate with all the required stakeholders in understanding the required information and articulating both needs adequately.

Below is a list of benefits gained in aligning both business and technical requirements during the analysis process:

  1. Bridging the Gap Understanding both perspectives: Analysts typically have expertise in both business and technical domains, enabling them to bridge the gap between business needs and technical capabilities.

  2. Translating requirements: They can translate business requirements into technical specifications that developers can work with, ensuring that the technical solution aligns with business objectives.

  3. Ensuring Feasibility Technical feasibility: Analysts assess the technical feasibility of business requirements, ensuring that the proposed solutions are technically viable and sustainable.

  4. Business feasibility: They also ensure that the technical solutions align with business goals and provide the desired value to the organization.

  5. Prioritization and Focus Aligning Priorities: Analysts help prioritize requirements based on business value and technical complexity, ensuring that the most important features are delivered first.

  6. Focusing efforts: They help focus development efforts on features that provide the most significant business impact, improving the overall return on investment.

  7. Risk Management Identifying risks: Analysts help identify both business and technical risks associated with the project and work to develop mitigation strategies.

  8. Balancing needs: They balance the need for technical robustness with business needs for flexibility and speed, ensuring a balanced approach to risk management.

  9. Continuous Improvement Feedback loops: Analysts facilitate feedback loops between business stakeholders and the development team, ensuring continuous alignment and improvement.

  10. Adaptability: They help the project adapt to changing business needs and technical constraints, ensuring that the solution remains relevant and effective.

In summary, detailed technical requirements provide the foundation for clear, precise, and manageable project execution. Analysts play a critical role in ensuring that business and technical needs are aligned, feasible, and prioritized correctly, ultimately leading to the successful delivery of high-quality solutions that meet organizational goals.

Some people may still have some questions about how this will affect the design of their user stories, so I will be posting some information about that in my next post, along with a list of information required to get the most out of your detailed requirements

1 opmerking

Ewald Horn
Ewald Horn
05 jul.

YES! I insist that clients make an app work on paper, with flow-charts, before we even consider what technologies to use, never mind write any code. The planning is so crucial and so many folks just gloss over it. Getting that business and technology alignment has always been the single biggest factor for success in any project I've worked on, this is such a great article.


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