Fred’s Laws #1: Requirements, who needs ’em?


Well, I guess it is fitting to start out Fred’s Laws at the beginning of the process – with requirements.

If you really want to start of on the right foot, and get your project well on its way to a spectacular flame out, this is a fantastic place to start. Remember, the best way to figure out what your software needs to do, how it should do it, and what it should look like, is to get your coders right in there coding. After all, who knows what the user wants better than coders?

This is especially true if you are building something new and innovative, or if you are short on resources or time. Just think of all the time you will save by not having to talk to users up front. And, all those resources you would have wasted talking to users can be redirected to more important things like coding (whether they know how to code or not). Just imagine how far ahead of schedule you will be right from the beginning!

Now, estimation and scheduling may be a challenge without some definition of what you are building, but you probably will not be doing any real estimation or scheduling anyway (see later laws). If you need to have estimates and schedules to show to management, you can always make something up out of thin air (but make sure not to talk to your developers about it!).

(and just think how much time you will save talking to users later on, since you won’t have any!)

To be really specific, make sure you avoid any of the following activities, which are known risk factors which could lead to success:

  • Set up a system for capturing requirements, using Access, Excel, file cards, or any other tools
  • Establish a process to review and prioritize requirements, and assess their value versus cost
  • Define a process for managing changes to requirements
  • Involve users or user representatives in the creation and/or review of requirements

All in all, avoiding requirements definition should save a great deal of time up front, and allow you to focus on the important work of trying salvage your failing project.

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