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Discovering Requirements: How to Specify Products and Services Paperback – 23 Mar 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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From the Back Cover

This book is not only of practical value. It s also a lot of fun to read. Michael Jackson, The Open University. Do you need to know how to create good requirements? Discovering Requirements offers a set of simple, robust, and effective cognitive tools for building requirements. Using worked examples throughout the text, it shows you how to develop an understanding of any problem, leading to questions such as: What are you trying to achieve? Who is involved, and how? What do those people want? Do they agree? How do you envisage this working? What could go wrong? Why are you making these decisions? What are you assuming? The established author team of Ian Alexander and Ljerka Beus–Dukic answer these and related questions, using a set of complementary techniques, including stakeholder analysis, goal modelling, context modelling, storytelling and scenario modelling, identifying risks and threats, describing rationales, defining terms in a project dictionary, and prioritizing. This easy to read guide is full of carefully–checked tips and tricks. Illustrated with worked examples, checklists, summaries, keywords and exercises, this book will encourage you to move closer to the real problems you re trying to solve. Guest boxes from other experts give you additional hints for your projects. Invaluable for anyone specifying requirements including IT practitioners, engineers, developers, business analysts, test engineers, configuration managers, quality engineers and project managers. A practical sourcebook for lecturers as well as students studying software engineering who want to learn about requirements work in industry. Once you ve read this book you will be ready to create good requirements!


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Format: Paperback
I have never bothered reviewing a book on Amazon before, but for this I have made an exception. I have over 20 books on requirements engineering, and I can say without hesitation that this is one of the very best. This is an extremely readable and useful book.

This book is well organised, practical and insightful. The authors propose a matrix of "Elements" and "Contexts" for requirements discovery. Following this model, the book is divided into two parts; Part 1 - Discovering Requirement Elements (with chapters on Stakeholders; Goals; Context, Interfaces, Scope; Scenarios; Qualities and Constraints; Rationale and Assumptions; Definitions; Measurements, and; Priorities), and Part 2 - Discovery Contexts (with chapters on Requirements from Individuals; Requirements from Groups; Requirements from Things; Trade-offs, and; Putting it all Together). In the Introduction, the authors state that requirements specification can be considered to be a network of related elements, "...and indeed, the chapter structure of this book can be seen as a customisable template for organising the requirements on your project."

If pithy quotes are a good measure of the value of a book, then this is a great book. I stopped scribbling down quotes by page 10 when I had amassed the following:
* "Requirements are discovered by the use of appropriate inquiry techniques. They are not sitting about, waiting to be `captured'."
* "Discovery, however surprising and delightful the actual moment of realisation, comes as a result of a deliberate search."
* "Projects need to pay attention to discovering their requirements, using a battery of complementary techniques...
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Format: Paperback
Ian Alexander's latest requirements book is a pleasure to read. He and his co-author have succeeded in producing a book that represents the latest thinking in requirements management.

The authors approach their task in a typically rigorous manner by describing firstly different requirements elements, then different discovery contexts, before combining both elements and contexts to suggest approaches for different types of project.
Among the highlights of the book are:
- A lucid explanation of Alexander's onion model for stakeholder analysis, put in context using goal diagrams, where stakeholders' aspirations are mapped to look for any conflict early in the project.
- The use of the Soft Systems Method to capture the soft boundaries of the project environment before formalising it using context diagrams and event tables.
- Some simple but effective ways to capture high-level scenarios in a workshop environment.
- Using goal analysis to capture constraints and qualities. There is a lot of material in this chapter, including some that will be increasingly important in coming years, such as sustainability.
- The use of rationale models and goal structuring notation to document assumptions.
- A large chapter on measurements, with a balanced approach to the debate on whether acceptance tests are a substitute for requirements statements (a view promulgated in the Agile world), leaving the reader to decide what is best for his or her circumstances. Recognising that many large projects now include a service element, there is a sizeable section on quality of service measures.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great book, which every Business Analyst should have. The writing style is engaging. The examples given are useful and drawn from diverse areas of business and industry. The book is useful for both Business Analysts and design engineers.

The book is so useful I have it as a reference guide in my day to day work as a Business Analyst, I wish I'd bought the book several years ago.
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Format: Paperback
Fantastic book! Have you ever struggled to find out what your customer actually wants? And after you're well on the way with your project, you start getting customer comments like: "yes, but..", "I didn't mean that..", etc. And then you begin to feel like "uh, oops, we really should have elaborated more on defining the requirements...".

But the term defining implies that your customer tells what they want and you write it down in a meeting, polish later on, and that's it. Go on and start a project ... and problems like above surfaces.

Requirements need to be discovered and this is the best book on how to systematically "tease" out what the customer (=stakeholders) want, what are they assuming, but not saying unless explicitly asked, etc.

The "abstraction level" is very good, not too cookbook specific and not too academically general. Text is very readable and clear and well structured.

This book helps you to direct your (and your customer) thinking to obtain desired goals, and thus is valuable also for people outside the engineering field.
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Format: Paperback
Discovering Requirements: How to Specify Products and Services
In their book, Discovering Requirements, Ian Alexander and Ljerka Beus-Dukic combine their years of experience to produce a work that will be of value to the practitioner and the academic alike. It is a work that, as it says on the cover, is timely, practical and reliable.

The book starts from the earliest project, or even pre-project, stage, where context and scope are typically unclear. Stress is placed on the importance of understanding the real business need before attempting to satisfy that need; crucial advice in the present economic climate.

In Part 1 of the book, the reader is guided through a logical process in which the stakeholders and their goals are identified, analysed and progressively refined, leading to the creation of validated, verifiable and non conflicting requirements.

Although there is a logical flow to part 1, the book, wisely, does not define a prescriptive process. It does however contain all the ingredients and sufficient guidance to allow the reader to create their own recipes for `processes' that can be intelligently applied to specific situations. The book's two part structure directly supports this goal; part 2 describes the contexts in which the ingredients can be used and mixed in order to discover the requirements. The final chapter of this large work contains invaluable advice on `Putting It All Together'.

In short, this book provides a valuable addition to the literature on requirements. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Steve Orr
Capiro Ltd.
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