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Shallmeisters, Get Over It.

If you pick up any reference article or book on requirements engineering, I think you’ll find that most “experts” in the field don’t obsess over “shalls”. They know that there’s much more to communicating requirements than writing down tidy, useless, fragmented, one line “shall” statements. If you don’t believe me, then come out of your warm little cocoon and explore for yourself. Here are just a few references:

http://www.amazon.com/Process-System-Architecture-Requirements-Engineering/dp/0932633412/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257672507&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.com/Structured-Development-Real-Time-Systems-Introduction/dp/0138547874/ref=pd_rhf_shvl_1

http://www.amazon.com/Software-Requirements-Second-Pro-Best-Practices/dp/0735618798/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257635918&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Requirements-Process-Suzanne-Robertson/dp/0321419499/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257635979&sr=1-1

With the growing complexity of software-intensive systems that need to be developed for an org to remain sustainable and relevant, the so-called  venerable “shall” is becoming more and more dinosaurish. Obviously, there will always be a place for “shalls” in the development process, but only at the most superficial and highest level of “requirements specification”; which is virtually useless to the hardware, software, network, and test engineers who have to build the system (while you watch from the sidelines and “wait” until the wrong monstrosity gets built so you can look good criticizing it for being wrong).

So, what are some alternatives to pulling useless one dimensional “shalls” out of your arse? How about mixing and matching some communication tools from this diversified, two dimensional menu:

  • UML Class diagrams
  • UML Use Case diagrams
  • UML Deployment diagrams
  • UML Activity diagrams
  • UML State Machine diagrams
  • UML Sequence diagrams
  • Use Case Descriptions
  • User Stories
  • IDEF0 diagrams
  • Data Flow Diagrams
  • Control Flow Diagrams
  • Entity-Relationship diagrams
  • SysML Block Definition diagrams
  • SysML Internal Block Definition diagrams
  • SysML Requirements diagrams
  • SysML Parametric diagrams

Get over it, add a second dimension to your view, move into this century, and learn something new. If not for your company, then for yourself. As the saying goes, “what worked well in the past might not work well in the future”.

Shallmeister

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