Today, a growing number of businesses are adopting Agile methodology for getting their software developed. Agile principles are based on adding and refining requirements later in the development process. The Agile approach embraces changes, flexibility and seamless communication in a timely manner. Most importantly, it bridges the communication gap between the developers and the users. Agile focuses on producing requirement specifications that are critical for the team. Having said that, companies are interested in the best practices, so here they are when it comes to Agile requirements gathering!
Participation of Stakeholders
Active participation of stakeholders is important for effective requirements gathering. It is also vital for both of you to show willingness to actively model together. You need to communicate with your stakeholders that you need to work with them closely. The support of stakeholders is very important for the success of your Agile project. Participation is required from both the ends for identifying ideas or suggestions, discussing requirements, modeling them and finally documenting them.
Level of Detailing
It is important for you to decide upon how much details you would want to include in your requirements specifications. You would generally require a more detailed requirements specification in case of new system, offshore or geographically distributed team and large or complex project. You can keep your requirements less detailed when you are just bringing additions to the existing system, your teams are co-located and when the solution is simple and easy-to-access. You can however change your course during the sprints.
Choosing the Tool
You need to adopt the simplest tools to model the requirements to increase the chances of effective collaboration with the stakeholders. When you are co-located, it’s viable to use index cards and paper-based or whiteboard based models. But if you are geographically distributed, you can consider using software-based modeling tools as well.
Embracing the Change
In Agile method, requirements are gathered throughout the project. Though most of the efforts are put in the initial stage of the project, but you will still be working on the requirements till the system gets deployed. Agile takes an evolutionary, iterative and incremental approach to development where you need to keep on gathering requirements, as requirements evolve over time. The viewpoints of the stakeholders can even change; with a change in the goals and success criteria of your efforts. The underlying implication is that the project environment changes with the progress in your efforts. Thus you need to ’embrace change’.
It is important for teams to take the highest priority requirements first and then move to the less priority ones. Those requirements that can be implemented within the current iteration are to be considered first. The requirements may be reprioritized and can even be removed at any point in time.
Size of Requirements
It is always good to have smaller requirements such as features and user stories. They are much easier to understand and to work upon than larger requirements like use cases. A use case describes the functionality in depth and is therefore considered large.
Agile takes a lean and effective approach to documentation. Many projects fail due to requirement of overhead for developing and maintaining comprehensive documentation and designing traceability. Agile focuses more on the efforts put in to build software rather than documentation.
You can use any technique to document your requirements but it is important for you to keep these requirements details in a central repository and organize them to guarantee success. You should keep an integrated central repository that can link together the important multiple requirements specifications.
Devising the right strategy for requirement gathering can work as a game changer and lead to the success of your Agile project. We wish you luck with your requirements definition phase!
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