When reading Michael’s post, The Recipe for Success in Cooking…up Software Requirements, I began thinking about other parallels between recipes and software requirements.
My grandmother made great watermelon pickles. Everyone in the family loved them. My mother decided to learn how to make them and got Grandma to send her the recipe. Try as she would, Mother’s pickles didn’t come out like Grandma’s. For one thing, they had too much cinnamon. Mother was carefully following the recipe–three sticks of cinnamon. Mother finally got the opportunity to watch Grandma make the pickles. It turned out that what Grandma called “3 sticks of cinnamon” was actually 3 pieces of a cinnamon stick, each about 1 inch long. Mother had been using about 3-4 times the amount of cinnamon actually desired.
Like with Grandma’s pickle recipe, we need to remember:
- Words matter. The more precise we can be with our words, the less possibility for misinterpretation.
- Observation helps. It’s great to actually watch people use the system if you’re updating or replacing an existing system. You’ll learn so much. What people tell you they do is not always what they do.