Consulting Requirements Specifications

OVERVIEW
There are a wide range of Requirements Specifications types and formats, and we have used them all extensively.The important thing is to select the correct representation for the process and audience.

APPROACH
The Requirements Specifications approach that we take depends on the audience and the requirements. The 3 most common ones are:
Process flow diagrams
Our standard approach for process flow diagrams is to use MS Visio to create swimlane type diagrams. The various actors / systems are represented by the swimlane headings, and the interactions can be visually mapped out. This is a useful format and tool to workshop and discuss with clients how a process works, or should work. The advantage is that these diagrams are relatively easy to follow (if done well). Usually these diagrams need to be supported by some explanatory text, either inside or outside the diagram itself.
Table of Requirements
This requirements are listed in a tabular format and grouped by function, department or system. The advantage of this format is that it is easy to use as a checklist or the basis for scoring. This representation of requirements is therefore useful on options analysis and is frequently used in tendering and as appendices to contracts. It is frequently used as a “2 dimensional” representation of the swimlane-type diagram.
System specifications
System specifications are requirements that are detailed enough and have been documented in a way that they are ready to be handed to technical resources to configure or develop a system. As Lodestone has a development arm, we know exactly what is required in a system specification to get an effective and accurate outcome.
PRODUCTS AND TOOLS
For our requirements specifications we tend to stick to tools that can be easily accessed and amended by the client if required e.g. MS Word and Visio. We have used many custom process modelling tools, but have found that unless they are used by the client themselves, they are too inflexible to add much value.