9 Steps To Gather Requirements For Your Software Project

September 23, 2016 5164 Views
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9 Steps To Gather Requirements For Your Software Project
Failed software product requirements are one of the most common reasons of failed software projects and doomed startups. Who's to blame? Who made it all unclear or misunderstood, intentionally or accidentally? Nah, there is nothing interesting in figuring all that out. What's much more interesting is how to prevent receiving not the product you want and expect. Here are some helpful tips that can be used to gather requirements for a project. The more of these are missed, the more problems may arise later, with everyone having to sit late at night and fill in all the gaps.

Step #1. Document Everything About Your Software Project

When you are driven by passion for what you want to do and a desire to share it with the world, you seem to remember everything perfectly. It's never that way. Initial documentation is a good start for a software specification, which becomes an essential artifact for both software developers and your potential investors. You won't lose details, which do tend to be lost. When you write an idea down, you develop it right there, then come up with another one, and so on. Ideas always come when you pay them due attention.

Step #2. The Sooner You Set The Goals, The Better

This is the universal rule for every software project. The business goals of your project are the basis for the upcoming decision-making, no matter if your project is about an entertainment app or ERP system implementation. All of your technical requirements will help the project achieve its business goals. If a requirement seems secondary for satisfying your objectives, leave it on the shelf until later. Your goals and business model can be expressed and developed with a startup canvas.

Step #3. Set The Right Priorities For Project Development

For most startups, the user is the main priority. The user chooses the best available product. The user brings revenues. Startups don't have yearlong time to roll products out on the market. They let software development walk the agile way, offer a minimum viable product to users, and improve with each new update. This natural scheme of things works through prioritizing features. Research of the market and professional opinion in your business domain will help you determine what is necessary and what "would be nice." Well, it will be so until the first user feedback, which will help you to move on.

Step #4. Look For The Right People And Listen To Them

We already discussed before how and where you should look for a software development company to do the job. Besides your project team, we'll mention that the "right" people include investors, who are able to help your software product with marketing and media coverage. You should also look for those who can help you with testing your future product – your target audience, actual users. It goes without saying that professional feedback is valued for the sake of a great software product.

Step #5. Think About Users And Business Requirements, Your Team Will Find The Right Technical Tools

Specifications, sketches, notes, diagrams, user stories, goals of the product – determine what you need. After that, your project team will see how it can be done. Your designer knows how to design a good app; this person will guide you through this stage. Meanwhile, experts of your project team will come up with tech stack options.

Step #6. Get Rid Of Ambiguities

Once you've found the right people to do the job, be clear and share your vision. Always make sure your team understands all the terms you use. Make sure they understand them the way you do. Collect the main notions and create a project glossary. Illustrate everything whenever you can. When you systematize your software requirements and use certain terms and abbreviations, make sure to structure them; it will be valuable for the team in the future. Not to mention it'll save plenty of time.

Step #7. Never Neglect Details In Software Development

Many details pertaining to your product may seem generic and obvious, but never trick yourself into it. Write all of them down in a structured way. Don't rely on vague assumptions. There's no such requirement as "users will need to create an account." How many steps will it take? What fields do they need to enter? Do they need to confirm the activation via email? Will they be able to create it in one click through Facebook? Or Twitter? What data will be accessed then? Within the answers lies the feature.

Step #8. Keep In Mind: You'll Miss Something Anyway

You won't be able to capture everything once and for all. Something changes (say, priorities or technologies), something gets forgotten, something needs to be altered, and somewhere there may be a mistake. Planning ahead is essential, but the point is being ready to fill in the gaps quickly and effectively. Keep your hand on the pulse of your software project; your software project team will do the same.

Step #9. Try Writing User Stories

''As a *user type*, I want to *perform a certain action* in order to *achieve a certain goal*.''

If you roughly know what your software is supposed to look like, try writing user stories with the help of sketches, proceeding from screen to screen. It's a great way of explaining features to your team, and a way to understand exact needs of your users.

Conclusion: Learn More About Gathering Requirements For Your Software Development Project

Of course there is more to gathering requirements, but we hope these 9 steps will be of use, with lots of useful links along the way. Oh, and be sure not to miss our detailed article about software product development process. Stay updated and contact us with any questions!
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