Thursday, August 31, 2006

I start some vacation today...and boy, do I need it.

Has anyone ever distributed a Requirements document/deliverable to a team to get feedback (or prepare for a walkthrough), and have the main business user instead send back an edited version of the document with the changes they want, and then demand that it be the version reviewed by the rest of the team, or then flatly state that their version is the final version to be created, and signoff their own version?

I know that's a long question, but it reflects my exasperation with recent experience. I don't want to say more publicly at this point, but I have privately written a description of this experience, mainly so I could get it out of my head and move on. Its a fine piece of writing, IMHO, and I may share some of it at a better time, allowing for some distance first.

In the meantime, does anyone have any similar 'war stories' that they want to share? I have only one from the past, as follows:

In 20 years of Requirements work, I have only ever had one ‘User from Hell’, an underwriter at an insurance company where I worked 10 years ago. While gathering CRM requirements with 3 business people, using multiple day-long sessions, this person complained/whined about why this needed to be done, and would not accept questions about the business; she just wanted us to blindly accept her input as the Requirements. I eventually turned her attitude around on this, to the point where she was presenting/defending the Requirements to other people outside the Project. However, when a new phase started for which requirements were needed, she now thought she could do all the Requirements and documenting herself, and would not meet with me at all;. I escalated this to the joint Project Managers, one IT and one Business (which actually worked well...) and they decided that since the underwriter was a long-time employee and well-known for being stubborn, they would let her go ahead while I started work on another phase that did not involve this person. Well, the results were not good, and I had to re-work everything in time to meet the target date. At this point, the underwriter was just mainly silent but did answer questions when I had them. I didn't know whether she had grudgingly accepted the situation, or would suddenly 'go postal' on us.
Anyway, I had already been looking for another job for totally un-related reasons, and left soon after this all happened. The project was slotted to go on for another couple of years, but within a year, the company was taken over and absorbed by one of the really big insurance companies, so I don't know what happened after that. Underwriters are always in demand, so I know that my 'user from hell' probably survived it all or moved on as well.

OK, now its your turn.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Free membership at Requirements Networking Group

Was just at , and the main page has a button to get free membership (for a limited time, it says). So, I recommend anyone reading this post head over there and join up, ASAP!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Requirements Networking Group, and other stuff...

If you are reading this for the first time, and/or have been here before, do leave a comment to let me know if anyone is reading this.

I have also been blogging over at as well, re-working some previous posts from this original blog and waxing on about other things; one thing it tracks is how many people have read your entries. There is also a good forum section, and some notable people are using the site, like Alastair Cockburn and David Hay. You need to join the site, which has fee, but leave a comment here saying you would like to join, and provider a little info about yourself, and your email,... I can send you an invite to join free.

Speaking of David Hay, I am reading through his book that I mentioned in an earlier post, "Requirements Analysis: From Business Views to Architecture". The meat of the book is a chapter for each Zachman Framework column. As expected, Data and Process columns have a lot of material and model types, but his chapter on People starts with saying there are virtual no common models for this column;so, he looks at Beer's Cybernetic models as a method for documenting how an Organization works as a system, made up of lower-level sub-systems. I think I will be reading that chapter again to absorb more, if I can.

I think I said earlier that I would review this book, but at the halfway point I think can succintly praise it as a book I wish I had written(!).

That's all for now...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Optimal Trace: Analysis or Design Tool?

I got the following email today, about the Optimal Trace product for Compuware. It is marketed as a requirements tool, but it looks more like an external design tool. Has anyone used this tool?

Hello David,
The Optimal Trace (formerly SteelTrace) product primarily covers the front end of the application lifecycle, that is the activities concerned with gathering, documenting and managing the correct and appropriate business and technical requirements in a structured fashion. It forms the foundation for the downstream activities of design development and testing. Therefore Optimal Trace is primarily used in analysis and then forms the bedrock of the 'contract' by which design, development & testing is conducted. Other of the Compuware family of products such as OptimalJ, DevPartner, QACenter etc. support these other phases of the lifecycle. I've attached an information sheet from the Optimal Trace website at for your reference. It should help you understand the value offered.
You can get other downloads at: TRIALS. You may download Optimal Trace and receive a 15-day trial license at RECORDED WEBEXs.
You can get a real good feel for Optimal Trace by viewing recorded product WebExs at I will follow-up with you within a few days, but do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need clarification.

Java Development and Performance Management Inside Sales Representative
Compuware Corporation

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

OK, no more rants on Agile from me...

I posed the issue about Agile saying "don't do requirements up front, because they will change" in a forum at and Scott Ambler himself weighed with the best answer yet on this, so go on over there and check it out. An email conversation with Peter Coffee has also helped me a great deal.

My conclusion is that originators of Agile did not see it as Extreme, but rather as Flexible; that I can understand. So, no more rants from me on Agile... but now I want to what in our profession is still bugging everyone out there. Please leave a comment, and if i get enough stuff, I will publish a "top ten' list.

About Me

Ontario, Canada
I have been an IT Business Analyst for 25 years, so I must have learned something. Also been on a lot of projects, which I have distilled into the book "Cascade": follow the link to the right to see more.