case study

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Measuring Requirements Quality

Driving quality improvements through objective measurement of the quality of requirements texts

Client: UK Ministry of Defence, Defence Equipment & Support

Context

The Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation within UK MOD is dedicated to the procurement, maintenance and sustainment of military capability. With an annual spend of £14 billion and a workforce of 20,000, DE&S equips and supports the UK's armed forces for current and future operations.

The effective management of requirements for military capability, and their decomposition into system requirements suitable for robust procurement contracts, is of fundamental importance to DE&S' mission.

What we did

We were commissioned to investigate how DE&S could undertake objective measurement of the quality of requirements material being produced by its many Integrated Project Teams. We began by working with client stakeholders to establish how requirements quality measurements could be used to deliver business benefits. We concluded that a properly designed measurement approach could deliver benefits by:

  • allowing management to detect systemic acquisition issues
  • focusing on the performance of teams and clusters of teams
  • enabling compliance to be audited at defined points in the acquisition cycle
  • enabling self-assessment and self-improvement at user level

Informed by this initial analysis, we applied our insights into recognised characteristics of requirements 'goodness', together with our understanding of the practicalities and limitations of quantifying these characteristics, to define a comprehensive measurement and analysis methodology.

Our approach is based on reasoned combination of low level measures into higher-level indicators. Some measures relate to individual requirements; others are properties of collections of requirements; yet more address aspects of the requirements process. This combination of both product and process measures lets us derive a range of 'product goodness' and 'process adherence' indicators which, in turn, can be benchmarked and used as the basis for assessing maturity.

This generic approach is independent of the nature of the requirements texts and the form in which they are stored. While it can, in principle, be applied manually to any requirements material, its benefits are most apparent when the analysis process is automated. We therefore developed a software tool to analyse requirements information held in the DE&S DOORS® database, and designed to be packaged in different ways to allow both self-assessment by individual users and corporate assessment for projects and teams using the same criteria.

Outcome

The requirements quality measurement tool was used to support a DE&S quality improvement initiative by benchmarking the quality of requirements material produced by project teams. 'Before' and 'after' measurements were used to obtain quantitative evidence of the benefits of the improvement programme. The tool is also available for self-assessment purposes as an optional component of integrate's KEYPAQ® suite of productivity enhancement tools for IBM Rational DOORS®.

Rational® and DOORS® are registered trademarks of IBM Corp
KEYPAQ® is a registered trade mark of Integrate Systems Engineering Ltd