Monty Python and Software Requirements

Arthur and knights

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of the funnier movies ever made. It was rereleased a couple years ago with digital remastering, deleted scenese, and lots of extras in a two-disk version. The rest of this post will make you chuckle if you’ve seen the movie.

Bugs Can Come From Anywhere

Software bugs can come from any of several places in the SDLC (software development lifecycle).

SMEs That Aren’t Experts Give Bad Data

“But how do you know she’s a witch?”
Interviewing session

When we interview subject matter experts and business owners, they may give us misleading or incorrect information. They may lack a key insight or understanding, or they may oversimplify or overcomplicate the problem.

Stakeholders Change Their Minds

“Blue. No, Yellow! Aaaarrrrgh”
wants and needs

Kent Beck argues that customers will not know what they want. A SME needs to be able to clearly identify what they need.

Poor Listening Skills Cause Miscommunication

“Right. We’re not to leave, unless Prince Herbert comes with us.”

misunderstood requirements

Even when our customer knows and expresses his requirements, we may not listen correctly. Active listening is a key technique to avoiding this miscommunication.

Ambiguous Documentation Prevents Communication

“If he were dying, he wouldn’t have bothered to write ‘Aaaaaarrrrgh’.”
reading ambiguous requirements

We have to document our requirements unambiguously if we hope for people to interpret them properly. We also have to keep in mind that we are writing for someone else to read the docs eventually – not just taking dictation. Writing for the implementation team can be even harder when outsourcing – we limit our ability to clarify and reach a common understanding.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming…

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