The Top 5 Challenges of Software Requirements Management

Requirements management is a vital part of any team’s product development process. Developers are realizing that the old way won’t cut it anymore. New, innovative techniques need to be developed to keep up with the pace of today’s society. In this post, we’re going to discuss the top 5 challenges facing software requirements management.

Software is becoming the central power that drives our business and personal lives every day. Relationships, communication, work, investment, mobility, and even play are all done on, or with the help of, software platforms. This constant need for software leads to heavy competition for software engineers and development teams. They need to review and update their development processes and procedures. This is why software requirements management is critical.

1. Documentation and Communication

The main reason a lot of software projects go off track is because of a lack of communication and documentation. Objectives aren’t clearly communicated between team members, and testing and updates aren’t correctly logged and timestamped.

Related reading:

8 Tips for Writing Better Requirements

This lack of communication may come from insufficient customer feedback. Another possible cause is team members lacking access to all of the relevant information. If some contributors to the project have more information than others, requirements may end up missing.

Insufficient software requirements can also be a product of vague parameters. If the objectives of your software team are not clearly defined, then it can be easy for requirements to fall through the cracks.

Solution

There needs to be a central hub team members can visit to view all software requirements. These requirements, and other development information, should be easily accessible to all team members and stakeholders associated with the project.

Next, teams need to rely on their workflow and repetitive processes (i.e. regular meetings) to foster communication. Whatever these “team rituals” look like, they need to allow multiple teams to communicate across company and departmental boundaries.

It also helps your software team to work through to a final product one iteration at a time. As multiple iterations of your software platform develop, team members can revisit them and compare them to a “software requirements checklist.” Any redundancies can be eliminated, and teams can reach a mutual agreement on what they can cross off the list.

This allows the team to stay focused on the tasks that still need doing.

There can be a lot of trial and error during this period of the process. Once your team agrees on the plans, processes, and procedures that help them meet their goals, they need to be documented.

Selecting the right requirements management business tools will help in this process. With the right framework and tooling in place, accurate and up-to-date requirements are available to the project manager and all contributing team members.

2. Lacking Change Management

“Change is the only constant in life.” That’s especially true when it comes to software requirements. Although most software teams are working in iterations, documenting changes and making sure they happen can still be a difficult process.

Potential changes require tracking and documentation throughout the process. These changes then need to be implemented across your entire organization and need to be understood by all contributors.

Solution

One effective solution teams use to solve this problem is sitting in on customer feedback sessions. Customer feedback can be a slow process. By having the team present for these sessions, the needs of your customers can be implemented much faster.

Impact analyses can also help to manage changes in requirements. These tests will help your team to assess the consequences of any change made to your project. Constantly keeping an eye on how changes affect the entire software development process allows your team to more effectively manage issues when they arise.

But, this whole process isn’t possible without the right tools. Your team can rely on a tool like a Lifecycle Management Platform. Tools like this allow you to automate dependency tracking and notifications. You’ll also be able to escalate and review software iterations automatically.

Overall, this allows for better communication throughout your organization. The result is that changes are managed better, and they happen faster.

3. Inaccurate Scope and Estimates Creep

With changes happening so quickly, it can be tough for teams to stay on track. The scope and cost of software requirements management can change just as quickly as the software itself.

Learn more:

Your 2021 Guide to Navigating the Top 5 Requirements Management Challenges

Predicting the costs of a particular software project is hard enough. But, then, teams have to predict how costs may change in the future. It can be almost impossible. And an incorrect prediction can really hurt your business plan. Project costs and the scope of project requirements can easily get out of hand.

Solution

Project planning and cost estimations go a long way in solving this problem. Decisions on any changes to software requirements need to be based on data and customer feedback. Lifecycle management platforms can be lifesavers when it comes to this part of the process.

Using a lifecycle management platform allows you to dive deep into your project’s data. Your project manager can see the costs of every aspect of the project. Teams can even examine something as small as product release data.

This unified data center allows teams to establish a collective software requirements management baseline to follow.

4. Design By Requirement

This is a common problem with younger software development teams. They tend to focus on what the software needs to look like over what the software needs to accomplish.

It’s true; design is an important part of the process. But good design happens almost as a by-product of meeting the requirements of software functionality.

Find out more about effectively managing requirements:

Best Practices for Effective Requirements Management

Teams can also fall into the design by requirement if teams outside of the development team have too much input. For example, stakeholders may request a certain feature but not know what’s involved in bringing it to life.

Solution

The solution here is to attack each proposed software feature from two angles. Approach it from a functional standpoint and a design standpoint. Once the function is working properly, the design should almost fall into place naturally.

5. Using MS Word and Excel As Software Requirements Management Tools

It’s easy for design teams to fall back on these two software platforms to organize the design process. These platforms are cheap, easy to use, and practically omnipresent, e.g. accessible to almost anyone with a PC. Most team members won’t have much of a learning curve when it comes to using MS Office products either.

Find out more about modernizing your RM toolchain:

Leaving Legacy Tools to Simplify Compliance & Modernize Development

The challenge becomes keeping track of updates, changes, and metrics as the team creates different iterations of the project.

Solution

Implement more complex software tools. Application Lifecycle Management platforms and software requirements solutions can be instrumental in streamlining your design process. If your project goes off-track at all, your team has one singular platform to look back to get things back in order.

Software Requirements Reimagined

Software requirements management is the backbone of the design process. A unified requirements management plan helps to keep teams on track and working efficiently towards common goals.

Interested in making sure your requirements management processes are both effective and future-proof? Access our eBook to gain insights on modernizing your RM activities:

Originally published at https://content.intland.com on December 29, 2021.

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Intland Software is the developer and vendor of industry-leading product development software tools. Our blog covers various aspects of the delivery of safety-critical technology.

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Kristof Horvath

Kristof Horvath

Kristof is a digital content expert specializing in topics around technology and its impact on product development in the digital era.