Join Haydn Thomas for an in-depth discussion in this video Producing business rules and requirement traceability, part of Business Analysis Foundations.
- Imagine a very well-made cake made by a professional bakery. The texture of the cake is firm and moist, and the flavor is sweet, without being overwhelming. Imagine the same cake without frosting or any decoration. It just wouldn't be right. Would it? Requirements are like that cake. You can have a very well-crafted set of business requirement but more is needed to make sure your requirements package is like that perfect cake. The frosting and the decoration, as far as a requirements package goes, are business rules and a traceability matrix.
Let's talk about business rules first. If you're running a business yourself, you probably wouldn't sell any new product to a customer that already had an overdue balance on your books. Would you think differently if the overdue balance was only ten cents? This is an example of a business rule. What overdue balance, if any, would cause you to stop selling product to a customer? These are important considerations to clarify called Boundary Conditions and they focus your business requirements. Other typical business rules include decisions on how a process should be performed.
For instance, "Bank customers will not be allowed to withdraw cash at an automatic teller, or at a teller's booth, more than 3 times in any one day, to protect against possible fraud." That constraint, no more than 3 transactions, limits when a process is performed. In this case, how many times for a single customer in a day. Approval or ownership definitions. Example of this: how a credit card application may be approved. Someone with good credit would receive a standard approval.
People with some blemishes in their credit history may be approved with a minimal acceptable balance. For others who may currently have questionable credit status they may not be approved at all. Lastly, there are guidelines for moving forward with a process. "The process for fulfilling an order for a critical part may not proceed if the remaining inventory would become critically low." In other words, the order can only be filled when the inventory level of the part is x or higher. So now that we've examined the frosting on our requirements cake, let's look at the traceability matrix, the final decoration to apply to the cake that is your requirements package.
A traceability matrix is typically captured on a spreadsheet and provides the following important information: Firstly, it documents the source of all requirements. With this information, clarification, or verification of requirements, as more information is uncovered, helps ensure your requirements package is produced efficiently and effectively. It helps ensure that all requirements are met. In instances where time or funding constraints cut a project short, understanding the traceability requirements helps support balanced prioritization decisions when multiple business areas provide requirements to a project.
We also need to ensure that we deliver what the customer has asked and paid for. Scope/objective alignment is where we do not under- or over-deliver, ensuring the requirements match back to achieving one or many of the scope items. These scope items should then align to achieving one or many of the overall project's objectives Lastly, the traceability matrix assists in testing and quality control. A well-crafted traceability matrix captures how each business requirement will be tested, and who will conduct that test. Along with what constitutes acceptable test results.
This helps capture the origin of a business's expectation, how it will be achieved, and provides for an approach to verify that business outcomes have realized. There you have it. The frosting and decoration to ensure your requirements package can produce sweet results for your project and in turn, your organization.
Discover where business analysis lives in the project life cycle, how to initiate a project, the best way to gather requirements, and smart strategies to monitor results and test outcomes.
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- Understanding what business analysts do
- Defining business opportunities and objectives
- Identifying stakeholders
- Gathering requirements through observation and brainstorming
- Validating requirements
- Developing project acceptance criteria
- Implementing, testing, and closing your project<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.