Managing Requirements in Mobile Development
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There is no doubt that the evolution of computing has moved into the era of the mobile device and any business that wants to remain competitive in an increasingly difficult economic environment needs to embrace this with the care and attention it deserves.
With over a million devices being activated every single day it is predicted that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake the PC as the most common web access device worldwide!
Companies that simply try and tweak their existing web sites to run in mobile browsers are missing a trick as users expect very sleek interfaces that make use of their devices capabilities such as Geo-location and camera. With this in mind the perceived quality of the application comes from both its functionality and perhaps more importantly the design. The design of the applications user interface is also critical when trying to improve brand loyalty and therefore businesses are keen to see their brand image extended to mobile devices where they can reach a much wider audience.
So where does Requirements Management fit in?
Well, a good requirements management process that is incorporated into the wider development life cycle will allow the business to communicate exactly what is required of the mobile application; enabling the development team to be clear on what needs to be created, and for testers to begin writing test cases earlier in the lifecycle. With the need for good user interface design it is important that requirements are not purely textual and so with tools like Rational Requirements Composer, Business Analysts can model Use Cases, Business Processes and also visualize the user interface through UI Sketches, Screenflows and Storyboards. This means the business can be very clear on what the expected result should be and remove any unnecessary ambiguity that only slows down development and ultimately prevents applications going to market quickly.
One significant trend in the development of mobile apps is the adoption of Agile methodologies such as Scrum, which fits in well with the short timescales and rapid change and release management that mobile apps have. This makes it even more important for the Requirements Management process to also be agile and allow greater collaboration not only within the Business Analysts team, but also with the other teams involved such as development and testing. A web based requirements management tool like RRC encourages wider engagement with stakeholders and also provides dashboards with live information, collaborative reviews and reporting to promote visibility and allow decisions to be made quickly and effectively.
Traceability is one of the corner stones of good Requirements Management, because without it you cannot determine if the resulting product has actually satisfied the original requirements outlined by the business. RRC is a part of the wider solution called Collaborative Life cycle Management and allows the requirements to be linked to the resulting development work items and associated test plans, test cases and defects. This means that from any given requirement you can see exactly what development task is going to implement it, which test case is going to test it and what defects were found in relation to that requirement.
In summary, mobile application development is an exciting and important part of any business plan and due to its inherent complexity you really need the right tools to make it a success.