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Think You are Cut Out to Create IT Requirements?

3 min read

When we talk about IT Requirements, we generally refer to the specification of characteristics and conditions of a new or altered IT product or IT process. And we take these specifications in order to communicate them to those involved in either the input to, generation of, or outcome from the creative and creation process. As such, the result of this activity is a document.

Are you analytical?

In order to create a useful document, it should be written in a language that is understandable to all the stakeholders. And the stakeholders of an IT requirement document are varied: It typically consists of these integrants:

  • People representing the business. They add knowledge about the process and/or product.
  • People representing IT: They know how to transform a function into software.
  • People representing management: They calculate the pros and cons and decide the go/no-go areas.

Before writing something down, the product or process knowledge taken from the business representative should be analyzed and organized in a logical order so that its purpose is clear and unambiguous to the other stakeholders. We see here the analytical characteristic that is required to create IT requirements.

Can you imagine?

Writing down requirements, and IT requirements are not an exception (on the contrary) is full of  potholes. The writer must imagine all potential future usage, even if it is far-fetched or simply not intended. Murphy’s law “Anything that can go wrong – will go wrong” is applicable here! So the (next) most important aspect of the document is how well all potential scenarios have been transferred to text.

And in order to do that, the writer of the document should be able to imagine the world from the perspective of the future end user (business representative) and translate this view to the document. Here we need a characteristic called Imagination.

Do you empathize?

But with imagination alone we will not get anywhere. The full and unconditional cooperation of the business representative must be obtained and it often happens that the process of “IT Requirements” is perceived as a threat to her position and the interviewer must empathize with this. So the (next) most important characteristic is empathy.

How common is your sense?

Now, there are zillions of methods for IT systems design, each come with their own set of visual language in the form of diagrams and –if they want to be commercial- they come with a set of acronyms (IT people just love acronyms), PowerPoints and books. They are meant to be read and understood by intelligent people, and consequently written in that way… And this could very well be funest for a future bright career in making IT Requirements! Not that a complete lack of methodology is beneficial, of course it is not and basics must be understood. But this methodology should be consumed with sense, if possible with common sense. Strangely, common sense -the least common of all senses- is never part of these methods and in my opinion it should be. It helps to increase the humility level in bright minds and it helps to see the real world where there is a risk to wander away –on a one-way ticket- into the virtual world of endless possibilities. Common sense is highly undervalued and a must-have characteristic.

Do you dig business?

The last but not least of the five characteristics that are welcome when creating IT Requirements without any doubt is a business sense. Let’s face it, the sole purpose of the new or changed product or process is derived from a business reason: Whether it is to comply with a legal requirement, to enhance an internal efficiency or to facilitate future business decisions: the bottom line is business related. And the fact is that to be an artist you would need a different set of characteristics than to be a policeman. And so it is for making IT Requirements: the fifth sense is the business sense.

So, if you think that you master at least 4 of the 5 above-mentioned characteristics, you might want to give it a try. And also feel free to drop me a line, you never know what the future has in mind for you.