How Modern Requirements Tools Help Agile Development

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How Modern Requirements Tools Help Agile Development

Four reasons Agile requirements tools can lead to more efficiency, collaboration, and unity within your company, from Ruth Zive.

· Agile Zone ·
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As the Agile development model has gained traction in the last several years, agile requirements tools have risen to the challenge of supporting it. The best of these tools provide important capabilities such as collaboration, visualization, management analytics and reuse. They are also able to integrate with common business and development solutions, which fosters alignment between business and IT, which is so vital to the success of Agile products.

By bringing together IT and business groups, a modern agile requirements tool equips organizations to scale Agile successfully and reap its benefits. Here are four reasons you need one now. Not only will it help you mature Agile and reinforce processes already in place, but it will improve project success regardless of the methodology in use.

Greater Collaboration

A common reason for project failure is inaccurate requirements. Healthy collaboration is critical to improving requirements quality. Modern requirements tools help by enabling teams to:

  • Collaborate effectively while working in their chosen tool sets. Business analysts should be able to easily share requirements artifacts with business and technical stakeholders. They should have capacity to send requirements to business stakeholders online for review and receive input via threaded discussions and e-mail conversations. Business and technical stakeholders will benefit from working with requirements in their own toolsets, while having clickable access to related artifacts, like regulatory information, visual models, and business rules that help them understand the big picture.
  • Make and refine visual models to enhance textual requirements. In Enterprise Agile, user stories aren’t enough. Business analysts and business partners can easily create visual models like use cases, process models, customer journey models and screen mock-ups. These models, with the right tool in place, can be used to automatically generate consistent and high quality user stories, so user stories are the result of collaboration instead of a source of conflict.

  • Run powerful, collaborative analysis. Teams need robust, end-to-end, precise traceability to analyze and fully understand their complex business and technology environments, and some requirements tools today provide it. Stakeholders can collaboratively walk through scenarios to make better decisions based on a clear understanding of tradeoffs and risk.

Improved Efficiency of Interactions Between Business and Technical Stakeholders

Requirements tools help Agile teams leverage stakeholders’ input without burdening them. They can helps teams:

  • Generate user stories from requirements automatically. Business analysts can use process models to automatically generate user stories and their acceptance criteria and push them into the development team’s Agile management tool. Instead of creating these artifacts manually, developers and testers get the information they need fast, and they know it’s accurate. They also have access to related requirements information, like regulatory information, visual models and constraints, to provide a comprehensive understanding.

  • Undergird the appropriate amount of collaboration between technical and business teams. Business stakeholders can interact with development teams without having to participate in daily stand-up meetings or be overwhelmed by technical information. Business analysts and product owners can drive the communication between the two groups to make the best use of business stakeholders’ time, tracking interactions and input.

  • Get free of the Business Requirements Document (BRD) bottleneck. A technology platform enables Business analysts to simplify the requirements review process for busy stakeholders by sending them only the chunks of requirements they care about. Stakeholders can provide input and collaborate easily online using threaded discussions and email-driven conversations. Even stakeholders who aren’t Agile-aware can quickly and easily provide the input business analysts and development teams need without having to wade through an all-encompassing BRD.

Reduced Rework and Accelerated Requirements Definition

The hallmark of Agile development is speed. That can be its downfall as well, since speed has the potential to compromise requirements quality. Mitigate that risk and help teams deliver better requirements faster by:

  • Using visualization and precise traceability to reduce rework. Visual models provide cues that are key to analyzing information more effectively. Individually, they allow stakeholders to view a requirement from different perspectives and at varying levels of detail. Their power is multiplied when they are linked to one another, so stakeholders can analyze them collectively to understand relationships between requirements and other artifacts. Visual models and the ability to establish precise traceability among them helps teams ensure full requirements and test case coverage.

  • Using the best practice of reuse to reduce rework. Many requirements, such as those for regulatory compliance, security, and performance, can be reused. With the right tool, organizations can develop a high quality, authoritative source of complete and accurate information for these standard requirements. Access to pre-defined requirements artifacts, including user stories, visual models, business rules and other artifacts, speeds up delivery processes while maintaining quality.  Requirements reuse improves standardization,  governance and adoption, while reducing duplication of efforts.

  • Ending duplication of effort. Teams define and manage requirements in silos if they don’t have a platform. They can’t leverage work done by other teams, because they don’t have an effective way of sharing them. A centralized requirements repository enables teams to reuse existing requirements artifacts, including visual models, user stories, and business rules, accelerating requirements development and saving organizations money.

  •  Making the definition of critical nonfunctional requirements simpler. Nonfunctional requirements, like those for security, performance and compliance, define the quality attributes of a solution. A list of predefined categories helps business analysts think about elicitation questions in buckets, and the lists of predefined questions within each category speed up interview design and improve requirements coverage.

Easier Transition to Agile and Greater Longevity

In order for enterprises to maintain control, they need enterprise-class solutions. Best-of-breed agile requirements solutions help by:

  •  Helping to make the transition to Agile by supporting requirements. A robust solution’s capabilities shine whether teams follow Waterfall, Agile, a hybrid methodology or any of the newer “enterprise Agile” frameworks, like Spotify, LeSS, DAD and SAFe. Organizations can leverage best-of-breed visualization, traceability, reuse and requirements accelerators features across teams and projects. Any requirements artifact can be leveraged on any project, following any methodology.

  • Amassing a bank of valuable requirements documentation. When teams use a Word-based BRD that ends up on a shared drive, organizations lose valuable information. Instead, requirements solutions store requirements information in a centralized database for refinement and reuse over time. Ultimately, these requirements document your enterprise systems in a way that is almost impossible to do without a platform.

About Creating Success

It can be hard to make the transition to Agile and even if you’ve enjoyed a measure of success, there may still be trouble scaling thes practices. Rather than abandoning Agile, you can take advantage of best-in-class requirements tools specifically geared toward this development model. These tools are able to unite IT and business teams for greater collaboration, effectiveness, and success.

agile adoption, requirements management

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