Clear Requirements Communications Course

What issues does the course address?

  1. Wasted time and money due to unclear Requirements. 400 of every 1000 defects in safety critical systems are inserted during the Requirement development stage, jeopardizing lives.1,2   In non-safety critical systems development projects, the defect ratio is also very high, costing companies time and money.
  2. Poor Cross Discipline Communication: Product Development teams are made up of experts in different fields with different training, experience and professional languages. Ever hear of legalese?  And it’s not restricted to lawyers – think of business people communicating with Business Analysts who must communicate with Design Engineers, Software Engineers and Test Engineers who must communicate with Managers and Financial teams. A regular “Tower of Babel”; is it any wonder the misunderstanding that results?

Words and phrases in one discipline mean something else in another discipline.  For example, ‘cookies’ has a completely different meaning to a software programmer versus to a cook or nontechnical person.

                                    PLUS

Humans have real difficulty even noticing ambiguity and other unclear language.  As a result, understanding each other becomes even more challenging when communication leaves the face-to-face form.

Think of it: even in face-to-face communication how often do you realize you misunderstood someone?

  1. Requirements demand significant precision, to accurately describe the specific, often highly technical nature of a new, desired outcome. Requirements are instructions for building a completely new, previously unknown solution or product. Working in the unknown amplifies any ambiguity or cross discipline miscommunication mentioned above.
  1. The course is equally applicable in Agile and plan-driven (Waterfall) processes as cognitive and linguistics principles need to be understood for both clear written and clear verbal communication.

What will I learn in the course?

The course provides practical, science-based, information needed to enhance communication and comprehension.

  1. Material and leadership applications in Plan-driven and Agile methods and other “best practice” topics expected in excellent development and management courses.
  1. Ground-breaking Vital Text Systems linguistic techniques that enhance cross-discipline communication among business and technical Principal Stakeholders, for example, business, technical and testing lead professionals.As a result, Principal Stakeholders are more readily equipped to arrive at a common understanding of stakeholder Requirements and User Stories. This results in multi-functional stakeholder teams more able to deliver predictable software products with fewer defects and so less rework.
  1. Practical exercises are performed to reinforce major topic learning from the material covered.
  2. We bring expertise in cross cultural communication and instructors steeped in IT and Product Development culture who deliver the course in IT solutions or Product Development language.

Sources:

  1. Jones, C , 2011. The Economics of Software Quality.
  2. Robyn Lutz’s 1992, Analyzing Software Requirements Errors in Safety-Critical, Embedded Systems (1993)

Course Outline: Clear Requirements Communication

Day 1 Communications Concepts and Requirements (5hrs)

Course Introductions

  • Texts, Course process, Participant goals
  • Handout reviews

Communications Concepts

  • Stakeholder Identification
  • Principle Stakeholder Teams
  • Producer Consumer Communications
  • Ontologies, Categories and Concept Dictionaries
  • Communication across Principle Stakeholders

Applications in Plan-driven methods

  • Requirements communication practices
  • Applications in Agile Scrum Methods User Story and subsequent communication practices

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