Agile Requirements - Where Do They Come From and How Do You Manage Them?

Eugene LaiWed, 07/31/2019 - 15:49

You are ready to start building a product using Agile techniques, but where do you start? There are a few options that you can explore; some may make more sense for depending on your current situation.

Agile Requirements

Situation 1 – You already have documented requirements such as a System Requirements Specification, Functional Specification, or Functional Requirements document. Whatever your organization decides to call this artifact, you have some type of document that describes what the end user and/or customer wants.

If you are in this situation, one viable option is to rewrite the content into an “Agile-friendly” format.

What does that mean?

This means you will need to create the following:

  1. Product/solution vision – What is the desired end-state of this product or solution? What’s the strategic purpose for this outcome?
  2. Product/solution capabilities – What are the high-level functionality of this product or solution?
  3. Product/solution features – What are the specific functions that this product or solution will do? How will they benefit the customer?

Once you have the vision, capabilities, and features defined, you can decompose the features further into more detailed work items (also known as Product Backlog Items, or PBIs). These PBIs could be User Stories, Use Cases, UML diagrams, or some combination of these.

Many Agile teams insist that all PBIs for an Agile team must be in the form of User Stories. My opinion is that the Product Backlog should consist of whatever work is required to successfully deliver working solution to the customer.

Situation 2 – You have no formal document that describes customer and/or user needs. If you are in this situation, don’t panic just yet; it’s not the end of the world. What you will nee to do is work closely with the customers and users to build Agile requirements in the form of capabilities, features, and User Stories described above.

This process may take time, but it is time well-spent if you are able to execute focused working sessions with your customers. This could be a great opportunity for you to truly engage your customer and gain a deep understanding of what they need, not just what they tell you they want or desire.