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Three types of requirements
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  • There are three types of requirements – the requirements of the problem, the requirements of the solution and the requirements of the project.

    Project Managers and business managers often cannot distinguish between the three and so lump them all together. This is dangerous. It can change a Tame problem into a Complex of Wicked problem and always leads to troubled projects.

    Problem Requirements
    These requirements assist in describing the problem to be solved. They are often high level, not easily quantifiable, sometimes expressed in terms of solutions, are understood by the business, do not take into account implementation or operational/ support issues and address symptoms rather than causes.

    The process of problem solving results in the identification of a solution which may or may not be an Information System. This is an important concept as it implies that the solution may not be an Information System at all. It may be possible to avoid a problem rather than solve it.

    Solution Requirements
    Once a solution that will solve a problem has been identified it is possible to determine the solution requirements. This is another important concept. The solution determines the solution requirements, not the other way round. Those Project Managers who think that solutions are defined by running a few requirements' workshops, just don't understand problem solving. This type of Project Manager is, IMHO, responsible for many failed projects.

    Solution Requirements can be divided into two types:
    1. Functional Requirements, which lead to Application Requirements; and
    2. Non-functional Requirements, which, with Application requirements lead to Infrastructure Requirements.
    Project Requirements
    These requirements are those which relate to the project that implements the solution. One of these requirements is the Solution requirements however there are others such as development, test and acceptance environments, developers, testers, implementers, finances, time etc.

    The following diagram shows the relationship between them.

    The Three types of Requirements

    Bernard Robertson-Dunn
    31 March 2011

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