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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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3.8. Bringing it all together: requirements

Planning creates large amounts of interesting information (asking many questions tends to make that happen). The challenge becomes how to simplify the information and convert it into a form useful for defining a plan of action. At a high level, a vision document is where all of the perspectives, research, and strategy are synthesized together. We'll talk more about that special document in the next chapter. But at a medium to low level, the simplest tool is the use of requirements. Vision documents often contain requirements information, but depending on whether specifications or other, more focused documents will be written, detailed requirements might be contained elsewhere.

Many projects use the requirements as the way to define the direction of a project. A requirement by definition is anything the team (and client) agrees will be satisfied when the project is completed. In the simplest sense, ordering a pepperoni pizza is an act of requirements definition. You are telling the pizza chef specifically what you want. He may ask you questions to clarify the requirement ("Do you want a soda with that?"), or he may negotiate the details of the requirement ("We're out of pepperoni, will you accept salami instead?"). In the more complex case of software development, good requirements are difficult to obtain. There are many different ways to interpret abstract ideas ("make it run fast" or "make it crash less often"), and the process of eliciting ...

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