ABE IT CONSULTING LLC
our clients want to achieve the following outcomes:
Complete projects on time
Document the right requirements
way to assess these goals is to measure the return on investment
(ROI) for all projects. Keeping score is part of human nature
as we are always comparing ourselves or our performance to others,
no matter what we are doing. According to Forrester Research,
more than $100 billion is spent annually in the U.S. on custom
and internally developed software projects. For all of these
software development projects, keeping score is also important
and business leaders are constantly asking for the return or
ROI on a proposed project or at the conclusion of an active
project. However, asking for the ROI without really understanding
the underpinnings of where value is created or destroyed is
putting the cart before the horse.
waste and complete projects on time
Project delays are costly in three different dimensions:
Project costs For every month of delay, the project
team continues to rack up costs and expenses. When a large part
of the development team has been outsourced, the costs will
start to add up quickly and are very visible if contracted on
a time and materials basis (T&M). Fixed price contracts
with external parties limit this risk. For internal resources,
the costs of delays are not as readily apparent, unless time
spent by resources is being tracked against the project, as
labor costs are essentially fixed costs.
Opportunity costs Opportunity costs come in two
flavors lost revenue and unrealized expense reductions.
Some projects are specifically undertaken with the purpose of
driving new or additional revenues to the bottom line. For every
month of delay, a company foregoes a month of this new revenue
stream. The purpose of other projects is to improve efficiencies
and reduce costs. Again, each month of failure postpones the
realization of these expense reductions by another month. In
the vast majority of cases, these opportunities are never captured
or analyzed, resulting in misleading ROI calculations. Of the
two opportunity costs, the lost revenue is the most egregious
and the impacts are greater and longer lasting.
the right requirements
Business analysts want to make sure that they define the application
in a way that meets the end-users needs. Essentially,
they want to define the right application. This means that they
must document the right requirements through listening carefully
to customer feedback, and by delivering a complete
set of clear requirements to the technical architects and coders
who will write the program. If a business analyst has limited
tools or skills to help him elicit the right requirements, then
the chances are fairly high that he will end up documenting
requirements that will not be used or that will need to be re-written
resulting in rework as discussed above. The time wasted
to document unnecessary requirements not only impacts the business
analyst, it also impacts the rest of the development cycle.
Coders need to generate application code to perform these unnecessary
requirements and testers need to make sure that the wanted features
actually work as documented and coded. Experts estimate that
10% to 40% of the features in new software applications are
unnecessary or go unused. Being able to reduce the amount of
these extra features by even one-third can result in significant
Efficiency can be achieved in two ways: by reducing rework and
by shortening project length.
Rework is a common industry headache and it has become so common
at many organizations that it is often built into project budgets
and time lines. It generally refers to extra work needed in
a project to fix errors due to incomplete or missing requirements
and can impact the entire software development process from
definition to coding and testing. The need for rework can be
reduced by ensuring that the requirements gathering and definition
processes are thorough and by ensuring that the business and
technical members of a project are involved in these processes
from an early stage.
Shortening project length presents two potential benefits. For
every month that a project can be shortened, project resource
costs can be diverted to other projects. This can lead to savings
on the current project and lead to earlier start times of future
projects (thus increasing revenue potential).
the challenges and risks of project analysis and planning.
a formal requirements engineering process, they focus on three
1. Elicitation. Gather, capture and confirm all relevant requirements
(high-level and detailed; functional and non-functional).
2. Analysis. Prioritize, organize and model requirements, often
resulting in use case diagrams, business process models and/or
3. Documentation. Publish requirements for all project stakeholders
to reference. A vital output of requirements maintenance and
documentation is the requirements traceability matrix (RTM).
The RTM demonstrates the many linkages among each detailed and
high-level requirement (as well as test cases and defects).
It serves as a decision-making tool by illustrating a system's
complexity and interconnectedness.