By Jimi Wikman
Requirements are very important. In fact I would say that 95% of all failed IT projects can be traced to a poor requirement process. This is baffling because requirements are really not that complicated and yet I see people fail in organization after organization.
After I started to look into the different flavors of Requirements I start to understand why things are so very hard to understand for many. There are such confusion about what type of work you should actually do, who you actually work for and what you actually should deliver.
So let us define what a requirement is first:
"A Requirement is a legal agreement between the requester and the performer."
That statement alone will surely get a few people raising their eyebrow for the simple reason that it does not fit in their job description. Again this baffles me that we have so many different work description for a single discipline. My only explanation is that people are confused on what different levels you work with requirements.
If we simply break down the three most common way of working I have seen: Facilitate, Investigate and Document. Then add it to the three common areas of work: Business, IT and translation between the two, then we can make a nice matrix. From there we can see what actual roles people have.
For me I think that anyone working with facilitating meetings as their primary function is a manager. Anyone who just document the need is a secretary. Those two types of "requirement analysts" I see frequently and in my opinion we should make sure that we call them for what they are so people do not think that this is requirement work.
In the investigative category it is common to work in all 3 areas depending on who you work for. Business analysts help business to define their need and IT analysts help IT define their need. This is however not requirements as their final product, but need. That comes BEFORE requirements. In this matrix we can see that the only role that actually work with requirements as the final product are the Requirement Analysts. This makes sense since the definition of requirements as a final product is:
"The outcome of a Requirement is a translation between need and realization of that need."
This is where many fail. I see many, many requirements that are nothing more than a granular break down of a need, but lacking the translation. Many are often either to undefined and border on a business need, or other times I see technical specifications instead of the need. My theory is that people do not understand what requirements are and who they are for.
We can see this in the delivery of requirements as well. I do not know how many times I have seen people claiming to work with requirements simply dump a bunch of documents on the development team and move on to next project, or next iteration of the project. This way of working when you build walls and throw packages over it is NOT a proper way to work with requirements.
As we can see in the matrix above a requirement analyst sit between business and IT. There she function as a bridge between the two, translating need in both direction to ensure everyone understand and agree on what should be realized. This can only be done with active communication, person to person, and you never deliver a requirement, you make a handover.
I think that this is the key for making requirement processes work: handover and asking development and test to take over the responsibility of the requirement. To ask the most important question there is: "do you understand what business want and can you realize that need with the information you have been provided?" If the answer is no to that question, then you are not done with the requirement.
If you just understand your place in the requirement process and you understand what a requirement is, then the requirement process will be easy for you. If your organization understand that as well, then life will be great for everyone.
So do you still think requirements are difficult?
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By Jimi Wikman
In the past 5 years I have been living my dream. I have been through a journey that far surpass all my dreams and I find myself in a position where I can look back with a happy smile and a heart filled with satisfaction. This is when I take the next step and try new things.
I started almost 5 years ago as a Neurowebdesigner and since then I have held positions as designer, tester, project manager and many more. I have worked with large and small companies and I have had the privilege to work with some of the best minds in the world. It's safe to say that I have been truly blessed being able to learn from such greatness.
As this summer begun I felt it was time for a change. For far to long have i restricted myself in terms of writing about my work, or rather the fields in which I do work as the work itself is mostly classified. I have my personal page where I so far have mixed personal topics with my professional topics. It has always bothered me a bit to not be able to have those separate and I have had a vision in my mind of what I want to do.
Now it's time to make reality of that.
In the past few days I have started to build the new website and after almost a week of tinkering I feel I am closing in on something that resemble what I want. It's a big site and the concept of building it around hubs of information and not in the standard blog-like fashion still feel a bit strange, but in a good way.
I build this new site on Wordpress of course with Buddypress and BBpress as the community base, but it's the concept of hubs that makes it really fun to work with.
I have divided the site into my areas of interest: Code, Design, E-commerce, Leadership, Quality, Security, Strategy and Tech. These will be the focal points of the site and then each area will be divided into additional hubs.
For example I have a hub under Code called Code IDE which list the different IDE's like Webstorm. This hub will act as a list, while the Webstorm Hub will be a full hub with ratings, news, videos and so on.
It's a bit abstract right now until I get things going, but I have the idea ready so now I just need to start adding content and fix the design.
This new project that I call omniconsultant.se is just the first change of many coming my way this fall. I have another great surprise to share in a few weeks, but i need to keep it under wraps a little longer due to a promise.
I will write here about the changes and if you feel like it, please follow me here or join me at omniconsultant.se. You can also follow Omniconsultant here on Linkedin and on Facebook of course.
So, until next time...have a great summer!
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[Article] Are we breaking down things to much for design and complicate the process or is it necessary in a more complex world?By Jimi Wikman
UX design, visual design, interaction design, creative technologist, GUI designer, usability consultant, information architect. The titles are endless these days and as someone who work with all of these pretty much every day I am starting to wonder if we are breaking things down to much these days, or if it is actually necessary to get things done?
10 years ago most of these titles were pretty uncommon, at least compared to the way they are used today. They still existed, they just were not as clearly defined and separated as they are today. Most just called themselves "designer" and that was pretty much ok.
When I had my own design business there was no distinction between a visual designer or a UX designer for example because without the knowledge of one you can not do the job of another.
Without knowing the information structure and the technical limitation of the platform I am designing for, I can not set the interaction design. Without the interaction design I can not set the UX and without the UX I can not set the visual design. It's not quite that linear as they all blend on multiple levels, but you get the idea.
So for me these things are always connected and maybe that is why I never felt comfortable focusing on just one area. How can I best help a client if I do not understand the whole picture? How can I create a solution without understanding everything from psychology to visual principles to information architecture and interaction patterns in the different touch points in a customer journey?
As the fields expand rapidly, just as they do for front end development, the information flow becomes almost unmanageable. Is this perhaps the reason why we see people that proclaim to be UX designers, visual designers or interaction designers? Or is it just that they still are "designers", but just focus on one area of expertise more than the other fields?
Unfortunately I see a division, just like the division happening for the front end developers, where we have designers that put the creative power of the visual design as their only craft and others with the intellectual focus of interaction and psychology as a separate craft.
I have been in projects where this division have worked fine and I have been in projects where this does absolutely does not work at all. It all depends on the people and the methodology where communication is always the key.
As we dig deeper into the psychology of design and user behavior, for the web in general and e-commerce in particular, does this mean that it become to difficult to stay on top of the development in all these fields so a division of discipline is required?
The tools we use suggest the opposite however and the borders between visual deign, interaction/UX design and even code becomes more and more blurred. So from a technical point of view we move towards where I was 10-15 years ago where you are doing just "design".
As of now I am not really sure what is the best way moving forward. Is it better to have very focused individuals that form teams to get the full width of the design process? Or is it better to have less focused individuals that can handle the full range of disciplines on their own? What does this mean for methodologies and work processes, does it matter at all?
What are your thoughts on this matter? What direction do you think we are headed and how do you feel about that?
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By Jimi Wikman
Last Thursday I had my first meeting with the Claremont UX group that I am now a part of and it was one of those meetings where you just sit and go "wow" because your co-workers are just the greatest people you have ever met!
While the UX part of Claremont is fairly new the people are sharp and experienced wizards for sure. The exchange of knowledge was through the roof and the level of discussion was at the highest level! It's been a while since I was not the sharpest UX mind in the room so sitting with these great minds was just amazing.
I look forward to be a part of this group who truly is passionate about making the world a better place by making it as user friendly as possible. I see no limit to the amazing things that we can do together and my heart is just glowing with inspiration and passion right now. I can't wait to get to work on Monday!
My new co-workers completely rocked my socks and it was epic!
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By Jimi Wikman
As I am leaving the current project, due to the fact that I am leaving for another company, other people are taking over my duties and I get less and less involvement in the work that I used to hold together as the spider in the web.
This is very difficult as I am used to be the one in the center of all things and now I am on the outside. The new team lead do things differently and the process of change always leave a residue of confusion and every fiber in my body just want to step in and "fix" things.
The thing is that there is nothing to "fix", it's just change and the fact that I no longer sit in the center of the project any more. The new team lead have things well under control and the project is doing just fine without me.
The realization that you really are not that important is both liberating an a bit sad. On one hand I am glad because it means that I have succeeded in making myself obsolete and the team no longer have need of my guidance. They work just fine without me following the processes and workflows we have built together.
On the other hand I feel a bit like a parent no longer being needed by their children and they move from home. Just in reverse as I am the one leaving. It's a bit sad to realize that you will no longer be the one they come for when they need help or the one they turn to for advice and comfort.
While this is a strange and sometime uncomfortable situation it is also a great opportunity to observe and learn from the new team lead and also to lift my gaze and look at things outside my part of the project. It's quite interesting and it's a very good learning experience, especially when you can pick up on body language. I see so many things now that I have not yet had time to observe before and it give me a wealth of new insights.
So I am in a position right now that feels a bit weird, mostly because I am not just leaving the project, but the company as well. It's also sad as I have to much time to think about how much I will miss my team and my co-workers when I leave.
Have you ever been in the same position and what did you learn from that?
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