Successful Product Development Begins with Good Requirements
The successful development of any product starts with establishing good requirements. Requirements are at the core of everything – the step before a design blueprint – and the reason things can go wrong. In fact, the number one reason projects have issues is due to poor requirements.
What are requirements? And what makes them good? In this blog, we will discuss these questions in further detail.
Why are requirements important?
Everything in a product’s design is tied to a requirement. They are what you are going to test throughout the development process and beyond. Missed or incorrect requirements can result in costly changes that affect budgets, design, and the overall production schedule.
Requirements aren’t as intuitive as you might think. It is common, and should be expected, that you will uncover more requirements as you go through the development process. The key is to be as thorough as possible in the early stages to avoid as many surprises as possible down the line.
What are requirements?
An easy way to define requirements is to understand the following two things they are not.
Requirements are not design items. Requirements are the “what” and design is the “how.” Costly mistakes can occur when you immediately jump to solutions before you outline the key features. For example, a requirement is stating that a car will have 500 horsepower, the design is how you achieve it.
Requirements are not compound. Do not list more than one key feature. Be clear and concise. If a requirement seems too complex, it likely needs to be pared down into multiple requirements that are testable.
What makes a requirement good?
For a requirement to be good, you must be able to identify the rationale behind it. In other words, answer the question, “Why is this a requirement?” This triggers your development team to take the time to thoroughly consider each requirement and if it is correct for the product. In many ways, this is the biggest impact on the success of a product, as it is important to fully understand why you are making it in the first place.
It is also important to understand if a requirement can be changed or modified. Requirements should evolve as you move through the development process. It saves time, and potentially money, in the long run to document this – especially if it is a regulatory requirement.
Probably the most important characteristic of a good requirement is that it must be testable. After all, if you can’t test your requirements, how will you know if you’ve met them? For example, the requirement “it has to be red” can’t be tested. Instead, be specific and list the actual pantone color. Additionally, each requirement should have at least one corresponding test.
- Sample example of requirements:
The sensor device shall be capable of operating in a temperature range of -10 degrees C to 40 degrees C
The sensor device’s sample channel must be food grade material
The sensor device’s light source shall emit a wavelength of 930nm.
The sample device’s sample interface window material must transmit NIR wavelengths ranging from 726 – 1092nm
Given the complexities of product requirements, it is important to have them written by someone with significant experience. They can ensure you are using the best tools and resources to make those requirements as accurate as possible.
It’s also important to note that the requirements phase never really ends. Even the best requirement gathering for a new product is going to have additional requirements uncovered through the development process.
At F3, we can help you establish good product requirements and guide you through the entire development process. Only once you’ve got a comprehensive requirements document can you really get a feel for development schedules and costs.