Agile Business Change for November 2006

  1. Book review: "The Software Requirements Memory Jogger" by Ellen Gottesdiener
  2. On "labour-saving" devices
  3. Challenging the obvious

1) "The Software Requirements Memory Jogger" by Ellen Gottesdiener

This book, although small in size, is large in scope; namely, to provide a comprehensive reference for requirements activities in all sizes of software development projects. This sounds a tall order but the reader is in safe hands as the author succeeds handsomely. Read more...

2) On “Labour-saving” devices

Last week, the hard-drive on my PC failed for the second time in as many months. As I went through the long-winded and increasingly-familiar process of installing a new drive and restoring the backup data, along with the little “tweaks” required to get everything working again, I started wondering about the nature of “labour-saving” devices.

The PC was supposed to save us time and effort, but it seems as if we spend all this saved resource in keeping it backed-up and safe from viruses. The PC started out as purely a labour-saving device, but it now delivers more critical services to us than ever before; we either have to pay someone to maintain it or spend our own time doing so. So where is the break-even point? The majority, I suspect, will remain faithful and spend the resource needed to minimise risk of failure to an acceptable level. A small minority will give up and obtain the services through other media such as interactive digital television. Still, there remains an opportunity for a provider to supply PC-like services that need no maintenance at all. Has Google done it again?  See for yourself at

3) Challenging the obvious

One of the challenges with obtaining the requirements for large corporate software systems is to obtain the same world-view with all parties involved. For example, when I asked the attendees of a recent workshop how they defined the term “customer”, I was greeted with blank stares and “well, it’s obvious” mutterings.  I prompted further and obtained the following:

  • a customer is someone who bought something from us in the last six months;
  • a customer is someone who bought something from us in the last five years;
  • a customer is someone who once bought something from us;
  • …and several others in-between!

After some discussion, we settled on a definition that satisfied everybody.
This is an example of the sort of misunderstandings that can occur, some of which are subtle and can potentially lead to business inefficiencies. At Agilier, we are experts at helping companies solve problems like these:

All best wishes for the month ahead.

Kind regards,
Marcus Price

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