Until We Master the Force . . .

The Jedi Knights use the Force to guide their actions.  “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

SW blast shield
“But with the Blast-Shield down, I can’t see!”

I am amazed by the number of people who believe the Force is the best method to implement software.  With nothing visible in place to direct project activities, I can only assume they are relying on the force.  Unfortunately, I have not run into implementers / developers who have mastered the Force, dooming them to long, and frequently unsuccessful, projects.

A good set of requirements can go a long way to guide our actions during the project.  Unfortunately, this is frequently skipped or inadequate.  Why?  Here are some of the excuses I hear:

“There is no point; it will change during the project” 
All the more reason to have the blueprint established.  This is the vehicle that should be used to lead a discussion on the consequences of making a change.  Is this really a change from what was already agreed upon?  Will the change result in rework?  Does it add time/cost to the project?  Is it a “must-have” or a “nice-to-have”?

“I don’t know how”
An understandable dilemma.  This is a skill-set not many people have.  In fact, I find it interesting there is not a standard approach.  Other skill-sets on a project have a fairly standard set of techniques established; e.g. Project Management.  Even after working in the industry for so long, I couldn’t point a person in the right direction to gain such knowledge.  I hope this blog will address that and provide a practical method to establish a requirements document.

“We do not have time”
The most prevalent (and lamest) reason I encounter.  How could you afford not to have a requirement document in place?  Having no plan in place that describes the final solution is a plan for failure.  You would be crazy to hire a contractor to build a house without blueprints, so why hire a contractor to build a software system with no plans?  I believe this excuse is typically a different version of “I don’t know how”.  Generally when I hear this excuse and I provide some coaching, I am able to show the benefit.


“No more training do you require. Already know you that which you need . . . One thing remains. Vadar. You must confront Vadar.”


Until we master the force . . . the next best thing is a user requirements document.  Coming up next . . .the journey to good user requirements.