Home Books Materials That Will Help You Write Better Agile Software Development Requirements

Materials That Will Help You Write Better Agile Software Development Requirements

Well-shaped software requirements lay the foundation for the efficiency of your development process, and therefore shorter time-to-market and product success. Still, many professionals who deal with requirements management disregard this part of product development, which leads to complaints from both – the development team working on the product and their customer. The main side effect of inappropriately documented software requirements is a waste of developers' work hours spent on correcting or re-writing code that was written based on blurry requirements, entailing missed deadlines, poor quality of the end product, and delayed releases.

Read on to find our list of books and materials that will help product owners, product managers, business analysts, technical writers, and other tech professionals become experts in writing top-level Agile software requirements.

  1. "Software Requirements" by Karl Wiegers and Joy Beatty

    software requirements

    This book is a must for anyone looking to become a professional product manager/business analyst with a long-term perspective. However, if your aspirations aren't about mastering a new profession, "Software Requirements" may serve you as a desk reference – use it whenever you need to find specific information about Agile software requirements. 

    The book provides a comprehensive understanding of what software requirements should look like. It also directs you through the framework for describing software requirements, covering every aspect of the process of software requirements management.  

    It's a canonical book for every business analyst, product manager, and product owner. And though the book is written in an academic style, which isn't that fun to read, the remuneration is worth it – you'll become a pro in writing software requirements.

  2. User Stories by Mike Cohn

    Mike Cohn, the creator of this video, is an Agile enthusiast who has his own successful company – MountainGoat software. Mike's videos are concise and straight to the point, so after watching his videos, you'll take your software requirements management skills to the next level. 

    User story is the most popular format for describing software requirements in Agile development. So it's essential to write comprehensive user stories with all of the necessary structural elements – the title, body, acceptance criteria, definition of ready and definition of done.   

    This video is your extensive guide to writing high-quality user stories. You'll find that the title is the main part of any user story, which should contain the core information about the function that needs to be developed. For example, your title could be: "As a user I want to see the login screen so that I can enter my credentials to log into the system." Here, it's crucial to state not only what the user will see, but also the purpose or result of the action. This way, the development team can understand why the function is needed and what is its business value. 

    Basically, the video explains in detail each aspect of creating a well-written user story. Apart from the user stories, the video covers all levels of Agile software requirements.

  3. Improving User Stories With a Definition of Ready by Nathan Donaldsond

    improve user stories with definition of ready

    This short article will help you figure out why the definition of ready is critical for creating good user stories. If you don't outline the definition of ready, you won't understand whether your user story is documented properly. For example, the definition of ready for your user story could be: "The user story has the title, has a detailed description, and acceptance criteria, the user story is registered in Jira, estimated, and put in a backlog." (This is only one of the multitude of possible ways to describe a user story's definition of ready that different teams can use.) 

    The same goes for the definition of done – without it, it would be hard to make sure that all of the requirements are fulfilled. Take it as the measure of a project's success, which indicates that everything you've documented was done correspondingly. The definition of done is a checklist that can control the accurate completion of a user story, a sprint, a release, etc. Fundamentally, you should not only write the story accurately, but also write the checklists for testing its results. 

  4. “The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products” by Dan Olsen

    the lean product playbook

    The concept of MVP (minimum viable product) is at the core of this book. Though the book in essence isn't about writing the proper Agile software requirements, it helps a lot with prioritizing – after reading it, you'll learn how to distribute the development of each part of the product in a logical order. 

    Prioritizing is especially crucial for startups, because at this stage of a company's development it's important to facilitate the product's time to market. For example, you'll need to decide which features of the product should be developed and released first so that you can receive quick feedback from the market and further define your scope to implement at a later date. "The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products" will help you release your product efficiently within minimum timeframes.

  5. New to Agile? INVEST in Good User Stories by Bob Hartman

    INVEST in good user stories

    This article makes a great addition to other materials on Agile software requirements, as it will help you double check your user story. The author states that a good user story should be aligned with the INVEST mnemonic – Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small, Testable. 

    You can use the article to test your user story by matching it with each of the above concepts. This will help you feel more confident about your user story and write better user stories in the future.

  6. Why Your Product Backlog Should Look Like an Iceberg by Mike Cohn

    why product backlog should look like an iceberg

    Oftentimes, the product team manages tasks incoherently, focusing on future releases instead of dealing with more urgent matters. We don't mean that you shouldn't care about future releases, it's just about the efficient arrangement of the workflow – you can get to non-emergent projects a bit later, when the proper time comes. 

    According to the author, it's useful to keep the principle of an iceberg in focus – detail and split the requirements into small parts, categorizing them by priority. At the same time, you can hold future releases in a backlog like ideas in large blocks, without paying attention to them ahead of time. 

    The problem of a chaotic work order is one of the most widespread reasons for unsatisfactory project results – future releases are mixed with current ones, which leads to not only a waste of developers' work time but also to poor quality of the product. The article will guide you through the rules of the right timing that will help you structure relevant Agile software requirements.

  7. Techniques to Prioritize Requirements by Anand Krishnan

    prioritize requirements

    According to the author, there are 5 main categories of prioritizing techniques: 

    • Decision Analysis
    • MoSCoW
    • Three-level Scale
    • Timeboxing/Budgeting
    • Voting.

    As prioritizing is a crucial part of writing great Agile software requirements, this article outlines versatile approaches on how to determine whether the requirement is currently important or not. After reading the article, you'll be equipped with several prioritizing techniques that will help you forget about the pains of putting requirements in order of importance.

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