Requirements Sci-Fi

Science fiction authors have had a huge impact on the development of science and technology. The flip-phone and PDA were inspired by Star Trek. Submarines were inspired by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I thought the requirements space could use some similar visionary input (not that I’m on par with any of those sci-fi legends). I hope you think this is fun.


Some time in the not-too-distant future…

I walk into my requirements gathering meeting and boot up the room. It takes 15 seconds to warm up – this old hunk of junk is getting on my nerves. Before long, the walls light up with the familiar Windows VistaXP SP5 logo. I refuse to upgrade to Panorama.

People’s avatars start filtering into the room. Bob is running late (as usual), but his Personal Assistant Program is here to fill in until he arrives. I don’t really mind. Bob’s PAP usually makes more interesting conversation anyway…

“Okay, our new sales portal is launching at the end of the week. We need to figure out what this thing is supposed to do in the next 45 minutes so the codeMonkey programs can create our prototype by this afternoon’s meeting,” I say.

“Well, let’s make sure we get the users involved this time. We don’t want a drastic reduction in traffic like we had with the last release,” says Mary.

I had heard about the last release and its abysmal traffic and I was determined to get the requirements right this time. After all, my career chip said I was supposed to be a Business Analyst, I should be good at this stuff.

I pull up our User Profile program and open a few representative personality downloads. Single Mom, Busy Professional, and Corporate Purchaser all pop into existence, ready for the interview.

“Okay, if you wanted to buy a new personal transportation device, what would you look for first?” I ask.

The walls of the meeting room light up with images, half-formed thoughts, and desires pulled straight from the personality programs’ database. I reach out and grab a few pictures and save them for later.

“What would you do next?”

Again, a flurry of still images, video, and text flash all around. I pull the next set of images from each user into one corner of the room.

This goes on for several minutes until I have a complete set of thoughts from each of the users in the room. Now for the fun part.

“Okay everyone, I want to craft a User Experience Model from all of the requirements we just elicited here. Please feel free to chime in with any suggestions as I go along,” I say.

I look through the different impressions pulled from each user. Their personal goals, needs, and wishes are all laid out in front of me. I think back to the corporate goals and pull those into the mix as well. I try on different formats, flows, and presentations, quickly scanning for the set that fits as many goals as possible. Before long, I have the features, functions, and behaviors that the systems needs to satisfy everyone.

I play back the User Experience Model I just created for all of the stakeholders and users. Everything flows smoothly, no problems, no concerns.

“Looks good. Let’s start building it.” says Mary.

“Okay everyone, I’ll see you at the prototype walkthrough at 4. Thanks for coming,” I say.