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Exploring Requirements: Quality Before Design Hardcover – Sep 1989

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dorset House (September 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0932633137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0932633132
  • Product Dimensions: 26.5 x 18.3 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #480,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
"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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Format: Hardcover
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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