Characteristics of Good Requirements

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FYI, if a potential employer asks a question such as, “What are the characteristics of good user requirements?”, the following would be a good list to memorize:

Unitary (Cohesive)
The requirement addresses one and only one thing.

Complete
The requirement is fully stated in one place with no missing information.

Consistent
The requirement does not contradict any other requirement and is fully consistent with all authoritative external documentation.

Non-Conjugated (Atomic)
The requirement is atomic, i.e., it does not contain conjunctions. E.g., “The postal code field must validate American and Canadian postal codes” should be written as two separate requirements: (1) “The postal code field must validate American postal codes” and (2) “The postal code field must validate Canadian postal codes”.

Traceable
The requirement meets all or part of a business need as stated by stakeholders and authoritatively documented.

Current
The requirement has not been made obsolete by the passage of time.

Unambiguous
The requirement is concisely stated without recourse to technical jargonacronyms (unless defined elsewhere in the Requirements document), or other esoteric verbiage. It expresses objective facts, not subjective opinions. It is subject to one and only one interpretation. Vague subjects, adjectives, prepositions, verbs and subjective phrases are avoided. Negative statements and compound statements are avoided.

Specify Importance
Many requirements represent a stakeholder-defined characteristic the absence of which will result in a major or even fatal deficiency. Others represent features that may be implemented if time and budget permits. The requirement must specify a level of importance.

Verifiable
The implementation of the requirement can be determined through basic possible methods: inspection, demonstration, test (instrumented) or analysis (to include validated modeling & simulation).

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