The High Cost of Poor Requirements


You have a problem. Your requirements are bad.

Now you are thinking to yourself, I have been doing my job for years, developing technologies that work, with requirements that “work.”

Do you think those who follow the status quo will be industry leaders? Will your current traditional methods keep you competitive? Will legacy always work? It’s not just a you problem, each sector is experiencing the same issue.

The current design process is causing the progression of innovation to stall. We spend more money, involve more people, with higher levels of education, to produce fewer ideas. To sustain constant growth in GDP per person, the United States must double research efforts every 13 years to offset the increased difficulty of finding new ideas. The burden of knowledge required to innovate is growing.

Reviewing the design process, it may be hard to pinpoint where improvement can be found. But we’ve found it, and it’s at the very beginning.

You may not think requirements are the limiting agent within your design process, but we know they are. Errors within your system are not cordial, they will not make themselves known. They fester throughout your design process costing you valuable resources in time, money, and people. Your satisfaction in your job and meeting the status quo does not indicate that a project may be error-free.

Legacy engineering processes will not design revolutionary products. To produce innovation your design process must be innovative. The technology leaders of tomorrow will be those who choose to innovate their design process today. Welcome to the fourth industrial revolution; you need to integrate technology and automated practices with communication and traditional methods to maintain industry advantage.


Now more than ever, communication must be intentional, explicit, and succinct. The most enduring record of communication remains the written word, particularly for requirements specifications. Without a common shared understanding, any artifact derived from requirements will not and cannot be correct.

Three decades of research have shown that up to 80% of product defects can be avoided if detected during the requirements stage. If those defects lurk throughout the development stages, the severity compounds over time. Although collaboration and workflow management tools are important, in the end – as it was in the beginning – content is king. What matters most is the quality of your requirements, and how soon you can get to that quality.


Problem Requirements

At this point, you may be considering the true risk of poor requirements but comforting yourself with the fact that you have hundreds of requirements. You’ve properly outlined the full scope of your project, and perhaps provided user stories – even if some requirements are less-than-perfect, your quantity can override quality. This thinking is ineffective.

Data from QVscribe, QRA’s requirements analyzer, identified that an average of 34/184 requirements have a QVscribe score of 1/5. That means an average of 18.5% of your requirements are high-risk and pose the largest threat to the organization… now how confident do you feel?

Exploring the relative severity and resources these 34 requirements drain from your project, risk management in the requirement stage becomes much more compelling.

Error correction is not the issue — the timing of the error correction is.

Interested in learning more about the High Cost of Poor Requirements? Download our whitepaper to continue reading!

Book mockup for QRA's whitepaper, "Risk Mitigation in Requirements: The High Cost of Poor Requirements"