Non-Functional Requirements with Roxanne Miller

TBAC 042 | Author Cast : How to Succeed at Analyzing Non-Functional Requirements w/ Roxanne Miller

by Yaaqub Mohamed a.k.a Yamo

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  To Function or Non-to-Function? 

We all know the golden triangle of software requirements:
Business Requirements -> Stakeholder Requirements -> Functional Requirements.
Ensuring that the right business requirements are elicited and analyzed ensures that you are solving the right business need. Stakeholder requirements ensure that the stakeholder needs are identified and trace back to the business requirements. And finally, the Functional requirements bring forward the functionality that is expected of the glorious future state system. 
 
What about Non-Functional requirements? (I am not a big fan of the way they are referred to as) 
 
Why do they not get the limelight they deserve? How does one go about approaching them correctly? How do you ensure that you’ve asked all the right questions that help you elicit the pertinent Non-Functional requirements? 
 
In this episode of the AuthorCast, I am pleased to present Roxanne Miller a self-proclaimed requirements freak. Her extensive background in software development, training and consulting lead her to author one of the most sought after books on Non-Functional requirements – ‘The Quest for Software Requirements”. In this podcast we deep dive into some of the problems that plague the BA community when it comes to the specification and modeling of the Non-Functional requirements. 

Here is the episode:

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Sneak Peek of the Episode

  • Degree in MIS to Programmer Analyst.
  • Why she considers herself to be a “Requirements Super freak”.
  • Professional football player analogy – get paid to do what they love to do.
  • What made her write “The quest for software requirements”.
  • Her personal quests to help BAs understand the non-functional requirements area.
  • When we fail in NFR why it’s more costly.
  • The biggest mishap is failure to specify NFRs sufficiently .
  • Functional, Business, Stakeholder requirements had sufficient books to help BAs, but nothing addressed NFRs.
  • Part 1: The first three chapters could be read end-to-end.
    • Requirements introduction and overview
    • Stakeholder profiling and analysis
    • Interviewing techniques – improving the skills 
  • Part 2: Is a reference focusing on different facets of the project.
  • Challenges associated with eliciting NFRs.
    • Subjective nature of NFRs
    • Relative in nature (data integrity vs. safety… relative based on industry) Integrated – tradeoff between the non-functionals.
    • The user focussed approach to understanding NFRs
  • How did she come up with 2000 questions?
  • The structure for asking questions using Zachman’s Framework. 
  • The six focus areas of asking questions (what, who, when, where, how, why)
  • 14 common categories of NFRs for all systems.
  • The three groupings of questions (and 14 NFR categories common to all systems):
    • Operation
    • Revision 
    • Transition
  • The role of requirements suppliers (SMEs, Biz Users).
  • The role of requirements receivers (Developers).
  • Suppliers vs. Receivers – Dividing the Questions.
  • Category / User Concerns / Real World Examples of requirements. 
  • Tips for effective requirements NFRs.
  • How to apply the concepts in the book.
  • How to structure the questions / approach the Interview prep to elicit NFRs.
  • Using the excel questions tool to manage the questions in the book.

Insightful Quotes From This Episode

“You mean you needed that to work faster?… Ohh ya?” 
 
“Quite often BAs would come to me to review requirements, and more often than not the NFRs were blank”
 
“Any consultant in this industry should get it. (CBAP Certification)”
 
“There is plenty of room for more (requirements) super freaks” 
 
“Its a demonstration of your passion and investment in yourself and you care enough.”
 
“If we do miss requirements then NFR is where we fail the most often.”
 

Items Mentioned in the Show

If you have any comments or questions for this episode, please post them below.

Enjoy the show and don’t forget to spread the word about this awesome episode using the social sharing links.



  • If we do miss requirements then NFR is where we fail the most often

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Article by

Yaaqub Mohamed (Yamo), is the founder of The BA Coach community and host for the #1 ranked business analysis podcast in iTunes. He believes in adding relentless value to the BA community and advancing the practice.  He host this blog, and podcast to help business analysts throughout the world, do analysis better, by providing educational, relevant, and inspiring content. He's the author of 'The Five Pillars of a Great Business Analyst', best selling 'The Ultimate CBAP-CCBA Study Guide' and the creator of the revolutionary 'Ultimate BABOK Kit'. 

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