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Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design [Hardcover]

Donald C. Gause , Gerald M. Weinberg
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 49.09 & FREE Shipping. Details
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"Anyone who wants to build a product should understand this book." -- Watts S. Humphrey, Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University

"a superb new book on systems analysis. . . . you simply must read and absorb this gem. -- Ed Yourdon, American Programmer

"makes a very important, serious subject fun and easy to read." -- Bill Loveless, PC News and Reviews

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
In a world where there is strong emphasis on project management skills and design skills, this is a welcome book that emphasizes that requirements must come first. The process of defining requirements is vital to success and, with good requirements, quality is assured. I recommend this book to anyone who works on solving problems or in building systems of any kind. Gause and Weinberg are excellent in presenting complex concepts in an entertaining and informative way.
There is a human tendency to want to rush into solutions as soon as an opportunity surfaces. And... the result is usually not what was needed. Then, there is a rush to "add quality" to the result by fixing the flaws. This is costly and often fatal to the project. This book takes the reader down a different road. A road of first defining the objective that is to be attained and being sure that all parties understand and agree to the requirements. If you only have a few books in your business library, this should be one of them. I shared my copy with so many colleagues that I finally had to buy another copy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Requirements by Design June 14 2002
The authors define development as the process of transforming someone's desires into a product that satisfies those desires. Their book deals with the early stages of the process.
It is easy, they say, if readers focus on five critical words: desire, product, people, attempt and discover.
Then why is it, to borrow statistics used by Microsoft at their Project 2002 product that 74 per cent of projects in the United States are either behind schedule or fail at a cost to industry of $74 Billion a year?
If you watch how people successfully develop systems, the authors say, you will observe that the process of developing requirements is a process of developing a team who:
1. Understand the requirements.
2. Stay together to work on the project.
3. Understand and practice teamwork.
The project, the authors say, will probably fail if one of these conditions is not met. Team members must develop and concentrate on three critical, but often ignored human aspects of the process:
1. A clear understanding of the requirements by all members
2. A sense of teamwork
3. The required skills and tools to work effectively as a team.
This conversational book is written to be read in modules or front to back. Either way, the exercises and tools provided should help rank your project with the successful 26 per cent.
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"So, what do you want it to do?"
It looks like such a simple question. But this query - posed every day about Web sites, other software, indeed about buildings and cars and furniture and all sorts of designed objects - is one of the toughest questions that can be asked of an organisation. It triggers the requirements process. A thirteen-year-old book by Donald Gause and Gerald Weinberg, "Exploring Requirements" shows how to manage that process. Most Web developers and managers haven't read it, and should.
Like the man startled to find he had been speaking prose all his life, most of us have taken part in a requirements process, and many of us don't know it. Requirements analysis is actually a life skill that can be applied particularly often in your working life. If you've had an architect design renovations, or a friend build you a PC, or a large consulting firm build you a business reporting system, then you've been on the end of a requirement process, formal or informal. If you've ever designed or built something, and seen a disappointed look on the recipient's face, you've experienced requirements failure. If you've ever had a client rave about how great a Web site is, you've achieved requirements success.
Like that other classic, DeMarco and Lister's "Peopleware", "Exploring Requirements" makes ample use of large numbers of measurements collected over many years - like the numbers showing that programers are quite good at producing what they are actually asked to produce, if only they are asked to produce it. This data allows Gause and Weinberg to enunciate a simple principle: you'll quite likely get what you want, as long as you say what it is.
Saying what you want, though, takes surprising amounts of both discipline and technique.
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This book is a refreshing approach to eliciting and analyzing requirements and has completely changed my thinking. What I like about it (and how it influenced me the most) is the human-approach that accounts for how we illogical creatures perceive, think and react. The authors use humor to lure us into a logical way of seeing the world and applying critical thought and a good dose of reasoning to the process. For the first time I was able to clearly see how difficult it is to effectively communicate, which is key to eliciting requirements, and how perceptions need to be managed. The anecdotes scattered throughout this book made it lively reading (rare for a "technical" book), and the skillful writing and well thought out structure of the book leads you into regions of thought and thinking where one rarely ventures on their own.
With 25 years of IT experience, and countless frustrating cycles of eliciting what I thought were firm requirements only to discover that there were still disconnects, I can only say I wish I had read this book years ago. However, better late than never. I recommend that anyone involved with eliciting or analyzing requirements read this book. It will almost certainly change your approach, and will definitely teach you a thing or two about human nature. I agree with a previous reviewer in that this book will be as valid a decade from now as it is today and the decade ago that it was first written.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be 6 stars!
Like Weingerg's other books (and I have read them all -- most more than once), "Exploring Requirements" is about human nature, the way we react as individual beings to... Read more
Published on Jan. 2 2003 by Lloyd Walker
3.0 out of 5 stars Where is the rationale and verification for each requirement
I have developing requirements and implementing manufacturing systems for 20+ years. The last 2 years I have been using the Ivy Hooks methodology (see her book) with great... Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2002 by Dale C. Maley
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond mechanics
I read this book some time ago and continue to refer to it. I have even incorporated some ideas into my courseware. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2001 by William L. Turner III
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it! You won't regret it
The other descriptions lauding this book are correct. I won't bother reiterating what's already been said. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2001 by Liam Friedland
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic that will be around a decade from now
In the decade since I last read this book I've gained a wealth of experience in requirements elicitation and management. Read more
Published on March 26 2001 by Mike Tarrani
4.0 out of 5 stars About peoples and requirements
I own this book because Suzanne Robertson make a lot of references to it and I liked a lot her book. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2000 by Christophe Addinquy
5.0 out of 5 stars The hidden pitfalls of human communication
Great book!! The examples are all simple, but are remarkably similar to every set of bolixed up software requirements -- and to the delivered products that didn't meet... Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2000 by Lawrence R. Babb
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading
By no means have I read everything there is to read on the subject of software requirements, but I've not read anything better than this book. Read more
Published on July 24 2000 by D. Read
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambiguity anti-matter
This book really isn't about digging for requirements, nor is it about use-case diagramming or weight-lifting [1]. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2000 by Dan Green
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