Requirements-management climbs CIO to-do list

Getting software requirements correct is "critical" or "important" to the business, says survey

Recent presentations by Compuware in Australia and the US on requirements management and a survey by Borland highlight growing interest in a topic whose importance is understood but which is yet to be automated.

Attendance lists had to be closed off in Australia as Compuware ran a series of roadshows introducing Optimal Trace, its requirements management solution. “It was the same in the US,” says Chris Sirosky, Compuware global solutions director.

“Poor requirements-management accounts for as much as 70% of software project failures,” he says “The main cause is the gap between what the business team wants and how it is communicated, and what IT understands and delivers.

“Poor requirements management is consistently reported as being the single biggest cause of project failure — bigger than bad technology, schedule slippage or lack of a funding portfolio.”

Sirosky says there is increasing executive-level interest in requirements management. “It’s on the top ten list of most CIOs.”

CIOs, he says, need to be more involved in formulating business strategy.

The Borland survey, released last month, reveals that 84% of respondents believe that getting software requirements correct is “critical” or “important” to their business.

More than 90% say that improving overall requirements processes could provide companies with a competitive advantage.

More than half feel their organisation could save more than 30% in development costs by implementing better requirements processes.

Yet the survey of 348 US IT professionals shows that only 30% had an automated system to manage the process.

“It’s ironic that IT professionals recognise the business impact of good requirements-management processes but they either don’t understand or don’t invest in making that process more disciplined and efficient,” says Borland product marketing director Dave Hauck.

Nearly one-third of survey respondents say their number one software requirements challenge is poor training, processes and systems, with respondents still relying on basic tools such as word processing documents, spreadsheets and email to gather and track requirements.

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