System Requirements

Whether your firm develops garden tools or children's toys or software, each product or project is undertaken for a purpose.

Requirements are the foundation for your design. This is so obvious that it’s almost trite to say it aloud. Yet, many projects fail because the underlying requirements were not adequately identified and analyzed. Requirements analysis seeks to solve the puzzle involving a system; its sub-systems, and the interrelationships between them.

Business analysts are concerned with business needs and solutions in an enterprise. Business requirements play a role in analyzing the system requirements of any project.

Systems analysis applies to the processes, procedures, and methods a system uses to accomplish a specific mission or goal. The work of a system analyst overlap those of a business analyst. However, the data each use are often differ significantly and, in some cases, their resulting analyses conflict.

For example, a new machine may be designed and built to more efficiently grade a road surface. The business goal for that machine will be to produce it at the least cost while earning the most income from sales. Business requirements, however, do not drive the analysis used to identify the system requirements of the product.

Requirements Analysis

With software projects, we look at each requirement and ask: “Can Johnny (or Sally) code this?” Requirements analysis does not produce the detailed design specifications needed to actually write code, but…the analysis must identify code-able elements and show how those elements fit together to form the system.

Let’s use the human arm as an analogy. If our goal is to design a human appendage to do what we can use an arm to do, our requirements analysis must identify:

  • What the appendage should do
  • With what tolerances or parameters the appendage should comply—maximum/minimum weight lifted, maximum/minimum range of motion, etc.
  • What subsystems are needed to accomplish the operational goals of the appendage (structural elements, communication system, heating, cooling, energy, lubrication, etc.)
  • Systems or subsystems exterior to the appendage with which the appendage must be integrated
  • Configurations for the appendage

The specific design specification follows from the requirements. Imagine the production problems that will result if designers have no requirements upon which they can base a design!

You need an experienced, professional technical communicator—me—to facilitate your requirements analysis!

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