Systems Engineering FAQ

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Why would you want to measure requirements quality?

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Answered by Robert Halligan

There are several reasons:

  • the most basic reason: do we have a requirements problem, and if so, how big a problem do we have (i.e., as an input to estimating the amount of work to do a requirements analysis)
  • we are a manager and have staff developing a requirements specification or doing a requirements analysis. Are they working effectively?
  • we set a standard for our requirements specifications in terms of the value of a requirements quality metric, actually, more probably three values for different circumstances:
    • original novel development in demanding circumstances
    • original novel development in non-demanding circumstances
    • very routine development.
  • in contracting with a service provider to develop a requirements specification or do a requirements analysis to a defined standard
  • as a professional service provider providing professional advice on requirements quality, in terms of the value of a quality metric, followed an interpretation of the consequences of the quality value in the circumstances which apply
  • in requirements-related litigation.

Of all the metrics in use in engineering, I find a requirements quality metric to be one of the most valuable, addressing as it does historically the single biggest problem in engineering: developing the wrong thing.

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