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Adopting EARS Notation for Requirements Engineering

Adopting EARS Notation for Requirements Engineering

Table of Contents

Why is it Important to Write Great Requirements?

Writing great requirements is an essential step in ensuring that a project is successful. Clear, well-structured requirements provide a roadmap for the entire project and help guide teams to the desired outcome. By documenting all aspects of the project before it begins, teams can ensure that everyone involved has a shared understanding of what needs to be done. Well-written requirements also reduce confusion and minimize errors by providing clear definitions and expectations around scope, timelines, deliverables, and resources needed. Finally, they help to ensure that stakeholders are kept up-to-date on any changes or issues as they occur throughout the lifecycle of the project. Ultimately, writing great requirements helps organizations stay organized and remain on track with their projects while mitigating risks associated with changing requirements and unexpected delays.

What is INCOSE?

INCOSE, or the International Council on Systems Engineering, is an international not-for-profit membership organization that provides standards and guidelines to help organizations create better systems engineering processes. The INCOSE System Requirements Standard (SRS) contains a set of rules and standards that are designed to help organizations evaluate requirements statements before they are implemented. The SRS has been adopted by a number of major corporations as well as governmental agencies around the world and can be used in many different industries for various applications. It’s important for stakeholders such as software developers, business analysts, project managers, testers, IT department personnel, and other team members to have a strong understanding of these requirements before beginning work on any system requirement statement or project.

Ultimately, writing good requirements involves a careful balance between being detailed and concise, as well as making sure that the requirement is testable and feasible. The INCOSE SRS offers principles and guidelines so that teams can write good-quality requirements and help ensure that their projects are successful. This will help to avoid costly errors during development or after deployment, thereby helping organizations create better systems in a shorter amount of time.

What are INCOSE Rules?

Requirement Statements are evaluated through the rules of INCOSE. These standards help organizations to assess the feasibility and quality of requirements before they are implemented. The evaluation process includes four main criteria:

  • Clear – The written requirements must be clear, easy to read, and understandable. Clearly specify the information using affirmative sentences that are to be exchanged between the actors. Every requirement must describe clear success criteria. Try to use simple vocabulary and avoid abbreviations. For example, “The user shall be able to view the Audit Log Report”.
  • Atomic – Each requirement should be treated as a discrete test case. Conjunctions such as and, or, and so on should not be used because they might lead to missing out on requirements. This is particularly crucial since terms like these may cause software developers and testers to overlook requirements. Splitting complicated needs into smaller parts till each one can be tested separately is one way to prevent this from happening.
  • Unambiguous – Unclear, incomplete, or contradictory requirements can lead to errors and rework. To prevent this from happening, requirements should be reviewed by every stakeholder before they are finalized. This will help identify any gaps early on which can then be addressed.
  • Verifiable – Everyone on the development team should have access to the document so that they may reference it as often as required. Because requirements must be clear, team members don’t want more information. They should all be accessible in the SRS document.
  • Necessary – Each requirement must document something that the users really need or something that is required to fulfill a standard or integration need due to the existence of an external interface. Also, it is important for each requirement to have an authorized source.
  • Design Independent – Each requirement must define what is necessary, not how it will be implemented. The requirements must define the characteristics of the system that will be observed externally, not the internal details.
  • Feasible – Each requirement must be technically executable and should be implemented taking into account the budget, deadline, and other restrictions that affect the project. The requirements should reflect the actual state of affairs, including cost, timeline, and technology. They shouldn’t be contingent on future technological advancements.
  • Complete – The requirements document should include enough information for your development team and testers to complete the product and ensure that it fulfills the user’s requirements without bugs.
  • Correct – Requirements specified in the documents should be very precise to avoid any sort of confusion. They must not have any loopholes, ambiguities, subjectivity, superlatives, or comparisons. Hence, In order to write correct requirements, we must obtain correct information and correctly document the information that is gathered.

Adopting EARS Notation for Requirements Engineering

EARS would be an effective methodology here. It stands for Easy Approach to Requirements Syntax. In this method, we write the clear, concise, and understandable language. This improves the whole requirements engineering workflow and simplifies the work by making things pretty easy to understand. 

To achieve this, here are some principles that must be kept in mind while writing the requirements. They involve:

  • Each requirement must be in the form of a complete sentence. No bullets, acronyms, abbreviations, or buzzwords should be used. Try to make short, direct, and complete sentences. 
  • Make sure that each requirement has a proper subject, predicate, and verb. The subject would be the user type or the system that we are talking about. The predicate would be the conditions or actions or desired results we expect. We must use words like ‘shall’, ‘will’, and ‘must’ to express some kind of necessity, and words like ‘may’ to express optionality in the requirement. 
  • Each requirement must efficiently explain the end result we desire from the system. 
  • Also, the requirement must describe the quality we expect from the system. It helps when we measure the end result and see if the requirement is properly implemented or not.

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