Common sense and requirements, for better or worse, do not always go together. People get literal-minded, especially on larger projects and in huge organizations. I have seen a project get held up for weeks before because the business requirements said “Response times must be under 5 seconds”, and in testing 1 in every 500 responses came in between 5 and 6 seconds. When I finally got people to let me cut through the red tape and talk to the original business owner that set the requirement, he saw no problem with the response times. In reality, he wanted sub-5 second times most of the time- in her case, she defined that as 90% of the time. Thing is, no one bothered to ask her that to begin with, and we wasted a lot of time and money, simply because no one thought to check the requirement parameters.
What does this teach us?
- If you have a question about a requirement, revisit the requirement with the business analyst and/or the requirement source. Don’t follow it blindly.
- Any time you see an ‘absolute’ requirement, make sure that it’s absolute. Often, there’s actually a range that applies, not a hard and fast rule.
- When someone says “what” they want, be sure you always ask “how often” as well.