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The Other 8 Groups in the Software Requirements Audience

Do you know who your audience is for your software requirements? Why, it’s the development organization, of course! And while that is true, development is the main audience for software requirements, there are many other audience members as well.

1. Testing Team. I am sure that most of you also thought of the testing team as another audience for software requirements. The software requirements give the test team a baseline from which to write their test plan, test cases and test scripts. The test team looks not only to see if the software works, but does it work the way the user wants it to work, according to the software requirements. You may also find that your test team is an excellent group to review your software requirements for clarity. They tend to look at software requirements from a perspective of “how would I test that requirement?” If they cannot think of a way to test the software requirement, the software requirement may not be clear and/or concise.

2. End Users. What about the end user? Those who are communicating what their needs are, of which the software requirements are intended to capture? They are also an audience for your software requirements. We need their reviews to make sure we have documented their needs clearly and accurately.

3. Technical Writing. Technical writing is another group that relies on software requirements for their work. We all hope that the Help content of the product reflects what the software does, the best place for the technical writing team to get that information starts with the software requirements. Of course they will also confirm their content with the software itself, but they can certainly get started with the software requirements.

4. Translation Teams. Translation teams also rely on software requirements to help them understand what the product is supposed to do, so they can translate not only the software but also the technical documentation appropriately for their language and culture.

5. Training. Organizations that develop training courses for the software also rely on the software requirements. Like many groups, the software requirements help the training department plan and structure their curriculum, so they can develop and deliver courses quickly and that are ready for training the end users when the software is implemented.

6. Support Organizations. Support organizations, both internal help desks and product support groups that take the front line calls from customers also use the software requirements to help trouble shoot issues reported. By looking at the software requirements, Support can help determine if the issue reported is a flaw in the software, or if it is working as intended.

7. IT. Internal IT groups are also interested in software requirements. Beyond the technical requirements for hardware, software, etc that will be required to support the software, IT groups also want to understand any interfaces to other existing software that must be built. They need to understand the support requirements of the software, what sort of administrative tasks will be required of them.

8. Consulting. If you are working in a commercial software environment, your consulting organization would also be an audience for your software requirements. They need to understand the new software that is soon to be released, so they can plan implementation or migration services for your customers.

There are lots of audiences, make sure you are including them all when you design the format/layout and include them in all the appropriate review meetings.

One Response to The Other 8 Groups in the Software Requirements Audience

  1. Julia K March 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm #

    Thank you — This contains the most succinct description of the front-end problems of software change work that I have yet seen. I can use these ideas to convince the local deciders that the "one big hopper" method of tracking CR and defects holds within it it's own limitations on what these managers complain is their biggest problem with our change process: time lost to "churn".

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