e-Talk Radio: Hendrickson, Elisabeth, 15 February 2001

[article]
Rebroadcast 29 March 2001

Is that kind of aligning what you found out on your shopping trip with your original requirements again?

ELISABETH: Absolutely! Because what you are going to find is that perhaps you...the wish list that you have there is just is no tool that is even going to come close to it, and maybe it's time to reconsider what you want it to do, or maybe you are going to find that you were too modest in your expectations. And there's a lot of great stuff out there that you can make good use of, and now that you know it is available, you can go back and determine how you would apply that in your environment.

CAROL: Now, is there a danger when you are at this point of going in and adding in wants instead of needs?

ELISABETH: Sure. But I don't consider that a danger. I actually consider that a good thing. Because when you get to the evaluation part, you are going to have to be able to make a decision about which tool is going to best meet your needs. And sometimes that comes down to wants. So, as long as in your checklist you have a clear distinction between, "We absolutely need these features, these capabilities. If we don't have them, we don't have a solution at all." And then there is the wish list. The...the...the "It would be nice to or it would be really good if..., or we could make a lot better use of this tool if..."

CAROL: And...and I think that is something we didn't really mention when we were talking about the business requirements, about the initial requirements, is really identifying which ones are the critical, cannot live without ones, and the ones that are, "Yeah, this would be great, I'd kind of like to have this," but it's not a deal breaker.

ELISABETH: Right. Identifying your deal breakers is critical.

CAROL: And those would be the ones that are absolutely critical.

ELISABETH: Yep.

CAROL: So, once you've refined your requirements, you'd advise us to narrow the list. And that is really when you start ranking them.

ELISABETH: That's right. Because, now, sometimes you get to refine the requirements and you discover there's one less that meets your needs...Okay, you're done. If you chose to go ahead and purchase a tool to do this, and that's always another choice, which is "Well, maybe we decided that we don't need anything right now at all." But, if you decide to go ahead and purchase, if you're down to one choice that meets your must have requirements, then you're done. More likely, though, you're gonna have several that could potentially meet all or some of your requirements, and so now is the time to figure out which is going to be a best fit with all of our requirements, or our capability requirements, what does it need to do, and also our budget requirement.

CAROL: And I really like the way that you have put together in the article itself on how to rank priorities. I'd just like to walk through them. You said a face-to-face meeting is a good form for prioritization. And if you can't find a tool that meets all of your requirements, you will need to prioritize the requirements, so that you can choose the tool that is the best fit. And you put together five steps that says, "Number one, invite in everyone with a say in the tool selection decision. Number two, post a list of the requirements, print it large enough to be read from

About the author

Elisabeth Hendrickson's picture Elisabeth Hendrickson

The founder and president of Quality Tree Software, Inc., Elisabeth Hendrickson wrote her first line of code in 1980. Moments later, she found her first bug. Since then Elisabeth has held positions as a tester, developer, manager, and quality engineering director in companies ranging from small startups to multi-national enterprises. A member of the agile community since 2003, Elisabeth has served on the board of directors of the Agile Alliance and is a co-organizer of the Agile Alliance Functional Testing Tools program. She now splits her time between teaching, speaking, writing, and working on agile teams with test-infected programmers who value her obsession with testing. Elisabeth blogs at testobsessed.com and can be found on Twitter as @testobsessed.

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