42 SMART requirements

Congratulations. You have painstakingly crafted 42 perfectly formed, unambiguous requirements. They are as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) as can be. A job well done!

Or is it? I think it is highly unlikely to be a good job.

Even leaving aside the discussion you can have about “Relevant” (such as: who decides if it is relevant; relevant in which context. etc.) there are many questions you could, and should, raise. Here are just a few that spring to mind:

  • Are these all the relevant requirements? Each requirement on it’s own may be relevant, but how many other relevant requirements are there that you missed? If the answer is “yes, these are all the relevant requirements”, follow up with: how do you know that these are all the relevant requirements?
  • Are these requirements consistent with each other? Each requirement on its own can be fine, but put together they could be nonsensical or contradictory
  • What is the purpose of these requirements? They could be SMART enough for an initial go/no-go, but useless for the Elbonian software company that needs to develop the solution. For starters, they are not in Elbonian! (or is it Elbonese?)
  • How do these requirements relate to each other? If this is a set of requirements, they must have some kind of relation to each other. They could be at different abstraction levels (parent-child relations, such as: “There’s a house at the top of a tree” – “In the house there is a room” – “In the room there is a chair”.), some of them could be related chronologically (“First check that the road is clear” – “Then cross the road”), one requirement could constrain another (“Exterminating may only be done by Daleks”), and so on. These relationships had better be clear, or the developers could interpret them differently.
  • How important and how urgent is each requirement? If we can only finish 30 of them within time and budget, which ones would you rather have? Do your boss and your neighbour’s wife agree?

I’ll leave it at this. It’s far more fun to think up your own questions, and I’m sure you’ve got the gist by now: you need at least 43 SMART requirements! 🙂