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June 24, 2016

Why Are Requirements Important to Agile?

2 mins read

The Agile Manifesto has 4 key value statements.

Individuals and Interaction over Process and Tools

Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation

Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation

Responding to Change over Following a Plan

To achieve these value statements, we are dependent on requirements which communicate the need necessary to deliver customer value.

Of the 12 Agile Principles, two in particular recognize the value of requirements.

Principle 4: Business People and Developers Must Work Together Daily Throughout the Project

Our team may create an awesome product, but what value does it have if no one wants to use it?

Google Glass prototypes started in 2012. By 2015, Google paused development and marketing of the product. The product wasn’t the problem. Google failed to identify the problem Google Glass would solve for people.

Principle 10: Simplicity – the Art of Maximizing the Amount of Work Not Done – is Essential

When we develop a product – software or not – we need to regularly test our assumptions early in the process to ensure our final product is what customers want and works as intended. The main assumption we make is that all features are used and valuable. In fact, 45% of features are never used.

We test our assumptions by starting with a minimal viable product. We build the features determined as key and get them in the hands of customers for feedback. Based on that feedback, we then determine what the next set of key features. We repeat this process until we have a usable product that delivers the customer wants.

85% of Agile Teams use Scrum Framework

One of the core values of Scrum is FOCUS. To achieve this focus, we need a clear vision and roadmap. And each item our team executes needs to align to this vision. Connecting our daily tasks to our product vision happens through requirements.

We incorporate these requirements at each level of the Scrum process:

  • Vision and Roadmap – we need to know what the customer wants and our objectives to achieve it
  • Release Planning – we identify the features which deliver value to our customers
  • Sprint Planning – we break down those features into value statements which represent a need
  • Daily Scrum – For each product backlog item, the team identifies tasks which help achieve the objective
What’s in This Series

In this blog series, we will explore the life-cycle of requirements in an Agile environment. We will investigate ways to improve our requirements which in turn improve our products by maximizing our return on investment and deliver value to our customers sooner.

Stay tuned for articles on

  • The role of a business analyst on an Agile team;
  • Ways to improve our discovery;
  • Learning techniques such as story mapping and slicing requirements;
  • Understanding product backlog items, requirements, and user stories;
  • How we can automate testing and determine that we’ve built the right thing;
  • How to know we are ready to start development.

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