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The Santa Approach to Requirements Gathering – part 2

Story continued from yesterday


Now, as anyone knows, if you are going to develop new toys, it is very important that you understand which other toys the new toys will need to interact with. For example, if a kid has a Lego set, you cannot just buy Duplo’s and expect them to work together. The elves therefore must spend a bit of time peeping around to really understand what toys each kid still has and uses, which toys need upgraded with new features and which ones are legacy and need replaced. For the ones they know they must integrate with, they take some detailed notes around compatibility issues.

Functional Requirements

Once the elves have narrowed down the scope, determined who the kids are, how well they have behaved and what toys they must integrate with, they must take on the most important step. They must determine what the children actually want! The elves are pretty tricky about how they elicit these requirements. They rarely actually interview the children directly. Certainly they talk with the parents a little, but we all know that talking to “management” doesn’t necessarily get us to the right requirements. Sometimes they will do surveys via commercial-watching monitoring. However, the elves’ preferred method is to use passive observations of the children going about their daily lives. They hear the kids talking to friends about the latest toys, see the dreams at night of cool games and watch catches the kids’ eyes in toy stores. And to clear something up – when Santa visits the kids at the malls at Santa-fiscal-year-end, you might think he’s still requirements gathering – but that’s really the elves’ last chance to validate the lists of requirements they gathered.

Development through Release

Throughout the year, as the elves gather new requirements for the children in their regions, they immediately enter them into ReqPole, their requirements management tool of choice. That way the elf teams still up at the North Pole can start developing and testing toys very early in the year. This is the only way they could possibly get them all done in time for a December 25 release.

And so, when December 24 arrives, the sleigh is loaded and Santa heads out with his star reindeer to deliver the toys around the world. After the elves watch the sleigh launch, they immediately go nestle up in their beds to rest up for a solid day. Because they all know, on December 26, they start the cycle all over again.

And whether you like the Santa Approach to Requirements Gathering or not, you have to give it to them, they ALWAYS deliver on time!

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