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One solution to software requirements challenges

If you’re responsible for making sure stakeholders get the software that they want, then you’re probably all-too familiar with the four aspects of software requirements — elicitation, elaboration, validation, and acceptance.

Increasingly I hear how an iterative approach is best and how tools can help. One tool that sounds like it could help is Blueprint’s Requirements Center. It provides a single environment for everything — there’s no need to leave the environment.

The elicitation tool provides “rapid requirements capture.” You can use it to identify and capture the relationships between the different requirements, you can capture images to include, you can capture data definitions, and you can import requirements from Excel spreadsheets.

The elaboration tool helps you start to make sense of everything. You use it to start to model the business process and the applications. It provides a GUI center to show interfaces of the software. And because it records the traceability of requirements, you can see what is impacted if a requirement is changed.

When it comes to validating what you have with stakeholders, you can create an end-to-end workflow diagram. You create a simulation to review with the stakeholders, and then gather their feedback. That feedback is entered directly into the center. You also have the option of passing the simulation around, and stakeholders can enter their own comments.

When the stakeholders give their OK, signaling that you’ve got it right, you can then generate the standard documents required for signoff. And those signoffs can be recorded on the server. When all is said and done, you’re giving the designers “a very comprehensive and complete diagram of what stakeholders want,” said Tony Higgins, vice president of products at Blueprint.

Additionally, the requirements center can generate all of the functional tests that correspond to the requirements. These are “ready-to-run” tests, Higgins said.

Last week Blueprint released new features for the requirements center. Blueprint Requirements Center 2009 Feature Pack Two introduces the Blueprint Resource Center. It provides analysts with instructional materials such as videos, samples, and best practices; company-specific templates and guides; advice from Blueprint experts; and syndicated articles and tips from Web communities and blogs.

Feature Pack Two also enhances integration with HP Quality Center. Now, requirements definition meta data (including visual requirements, GUI prototypes, security requirements, and data elements) are seamlessly integrated with HP Quality Center’s Requirements Management and Test Management modules. In addition, HP Quality Center users also have the ability to import and leverage assets within Blueprint’s elicitation module to provide early visibility and to speed IT development and quality assurance teams.

Want to see how the various modules work? Blueprint provides online demonstrations of its Blueprint’s Requirements Center.

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Michelle, I've looked at the product from Blue Print and it seems like a great tool. I'd love to bring something like that to my organization. I"ve been in my organization for almost 4yrs now. I'm now heading the effort to bring quality to our process. For more than 3yrs we didn't even do bug tracking. We at least now have HP Quality Center which I'm using to track what little requirements are gathered and creating test cases around those requirements and logging defects which are found. Hopefully we'll get to a point where this type of tool can be implemented. I'd like to expose our BA's to such technology.