New survey results released from Borland Software Corporation, a global leader in software delivery optimization, suggest that while IT organizations understand the importance of effective requirements management, perception differs from reality when it comes to how they go about gathering, defining and managing requirements. More than three-quarters of the 348 U.S. IT professionals who participated in Borland's survey felt that their organizations had an effective process for specifying and managing software requirements, yet only 30 percent have an automated system to manage the process. Further, nearly one-third reported that their organizations offer no training on requirements definition and management processes.
The study revealed that 84 percent of respondents believe that getting software requirements correct was "critical" or "important" to their business. More than 90 percent of respondents said that improving overall requirements processes could provide companies with a competitive advantage. Furthermore, over half of the respondents felt their particular organization could save more than 30 percent in development costs by implementing better requirements processes - confirming a concept that many analysts and industry experts push with IT.
"It's ironic that IT professionals recognize the business impact of good requirements management processes, but they either don't understand or don't invest in making that process more disciplined and efficient," said Dave Hauck, director of product marketing at Borland. "You can have the best process in the world, but if your teams aren't trained on it and there's no system in place to automate or enforce the defined process, the results will be unpredictable."
The Root Cause of Requirements Challenges
Nearly one-third of survey respondents said their number one software requirements challenge was poor training, processes and systems, with respondents still relying on basic tools such as word processing documents (26 percent), spreadsheets (23 percent) and email (20 percent) to gather and track requirements. Another one-third of respondents cite poor business-IT communication as their most significant requirements challenge.
"Experience has shown us that gaining a clear definition of requirements is very difficult for organizations because of the communications gap between business and IT," continued Hauck. "We see a lot of companies investing in this area - in how they're training their teams as well as in the tools they're using to help elicit, visualize, analyze and validate requirements."
While the majority of respondents reported still relying on basic tools, the survey shows that many companies are already beginning to automate and streamline their overall requirements processes. Twenty-five percent of respondents have already adopted automation technology, with another 13 percent planning adoption within the next year.
Respondents are also beginning to tie requirements into other areas of the software delivery lifecycle, an important step in making software delivery a more managed, efficient and predictable business process. For example, 40 percent of respondents said they are in the midst of, or planning to, integrate their requirements and Quality Assurance processes within the next year. This is no surprise given requirements touch every phase of the software lifecycle - from defining what the software is supposed to do, to testing whether the software that is delivered actually meets business and customer needs.
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