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Reuse is an eternal grail for those who seek increased software productivity. People think most often in terms of code reuse, but many other software project components also have reuse potential. Reusing requirements can increase productivity, improve quality, and lead to greater consistency between related systems.

Reuse is an eternal grail for those who seek increased software productivity. People think most often in terms of code reuse, but many other software project components also have reuse potential. Reusing requirements can increase productivity, improve quality, and lead to greater consistency between related systems.

Reuse is not free, though. It presents its own risks, both with regard to reusing existing items and to creating items with good reuse potential. It might take more effort to create high-quality reusable requirements than to write requirements you intend to use only on the current project. In this article, adapted from our book Software Requirements, 3rd Edition, we describe some approaches an organization could take to maximize the reuse potential of its requirements.

Just because a requirement exists doesn’t mean it’s reusable in its present form. It could be specific to a particular project. It might be written at too high a level because the business analyst could safely assume certain knowledge on the part of the development team or because some details were communicated only verbally. A requirement could lack information about how to handle possible exceptions. You might have to tune up the original requirements to increase their value to future BAs.

Well-written requirements lend themselves to reuse. The steps you take to make requirements more reusable also increases their value to their original project; it simply makes them better requirements. Reusers need to know about dependencies the requirement has on others, as well as other requirements that go with it and that might also be reused, so they can package sets of related requirements appropriately....

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Karl Wiegers

Karl Wiegers is Principal Consultant at Process Impact, a software development consulting and training company in Portland, Oregon. He has a PhD in organic chemistry. Karl is the author of numerous books on software development, most recently Software Requirements, 3rd Edition (with Joy Beatty). He’s also the author of Successful Business Analysis Consulting: Strategies and Tips for Going It Alone, a memoir of life lessons, and a forensic mystery novel, The Reconstruction. You can reach him at ProcessImpact.com or KarlWiegers.com.

2019-12-08 Making Requirements Reusable Making Requirements Reusable

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