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Business Requirements: Don’t complicate it

Sakhile Khumalo
03 March 2021

The purpose of business requirements is to define a project’s business need, as well as the criteria for its success. Most people get caught up in the how of business and forget that business requirements need to be one thing, simple. Let’s look at it this way:

Building paper planes

Paper planes are horrid little things that don’t fly too well.

If you’ve ever come across paper, chances are you’ve tried your hand at the fascinatingly simple endeavour of trying to build a paper plane and fallen victim to the broken promise of achieving unmanned flight with a creation of your own hands. You carefully folded the piece of paper with German precision, closing in at every crevice, and masterfully sharpening the nose. You got your hand into position, readying the plane for take-off and, with a lightning jolt, thrust it forward with all your might. But, alas, the horrid little thing loops in the air and sharply dives headlong to your feet.

business requirements

The challenge

Some years ago, when I was in University, one of my lecturers asked us to meet him outside in one of the university’s lawned gardens for our introduction lesson for his class. He got us into groups after which we all stood nervously waiting for whatever weird task this unorthodox lecturer of ours would require of us. He handed each group a piece of paper, a handful of paperclips, and rubber bands, and commenced to give us his instructions. “Your task”, he began, “is to build a flying object that can be flown from this end of the lawn to the other.”

The objective was very clear to everyone. We had to create paper planes capable of being flown a few meters. The teams came up with a myriad of unique and interesting designs. Most teams had cleverly added extra weight to the nose of the plane using the paperclips. Physics!

Taking flight

Soon it was time for all the thrust-men, one from each team, to demonstrate if their teams had managed to fulfill the requirement. One after the other, each thrust-man flung forward his plane. However, the horrid little things, at best, flew no further than the halfway mark. Every team had failed, dismally! After all the failed attempts, our lecturer, with a smirk on his face, got all of our attention to, finally, demonstrate how the requirement could have been easily met.

He took the paper clips, wrapped them all with the piece of paper into a neat little ball. Then he tightened the crumpled ball of paper with the rubber bands, tying and twisting every which way. He flung the flying object across the lawn, all the way to the other end.

Business requirements: don’t complicate it

Paper planes are not horrid little things when craftily designed. They can be flown very long distances with the correct thrust and angle. The best designers, analysts, and software engineers, however, know not to be tricked by the paper and the paper clips. They know not to build a paper plane when the requirement is simply to build a flying object.

Here at Integrove we don’t complicate things. We strive to truly understand our clients’ business requirements in order to create the best solutions. Contact us to find out more.

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