Recently I was reading Presentation Zen, one of my favorite blogs and the author struck a cord regarding society’s fixation on never failing or more appropriately the fear of failing. I started thinking about how our industry has not really evolved over the last 20 years and how this is most likely due to designers and analysts fear of failure or often more applicable their managers fear of allowing their employees to fail.
If you look at the way requirements are delivered, over 80% of projects still use Microsoft Word and Excel, some project teams use Requirements Management tools like IBM Requisite Pro, HP RM or Blueprint but at the end of the day the final deliverable produced from said tool is still an MS Word or Excel document so we’re back to step one. This leaves the stakeholder stuck with lugging around lbs of paper or worse tethered to a headache inducing monitor, ever try to read and validate 10,000 requirements on a monitor, there isn’t enough Excedrin in the world to alleviate that pain.
So what is the answer? Well here at OneSpring we call it an Interactive Requirements Document™ (iRD). Basically an iRD is a modern, innovative solution for delivering infinite amounts of requirements and making the consumption of those requirements a more enjoyable experience.
The ingredients for an iRD consist of this. Take your company’s existing Requirements template (SRD, BRD, PRD, etc.) and infuse it with interactive elements, for us this means narrated videos of the visualization. The visualization can be anything from an iRise simulation, Axure prototype or even old fashion paper prototypes; we of course prefer something more dynamic like an iRise or Axure solution. Next include any additional accompanying files like swim lane diagrams, RTMs, architecture diagrams etc. Finally compile everything into an industry standard .ePub format and then load onto a light-weight tablet such as an iPad or Galaxy. We prefer the iPad simply due to the user experience and the interaction of Apple’s native iBooks application however any tablet can be used as long as the ePub reader supports video and other rich media formats.
Now I’ll admit this didn’t come to us over night, we’ve spent years trying to create a better delivery solution and with this we’ve failed numerous times; from horrific Sharepoint attempts, Amazon Kindle concepts, DVD based solutions and other traditional textual byproducts of those previously mentioned RM tools. Lucky for us each of those failed efforts led to an understanding of what could work and deliver an entirely new way of consuming vast amounts of textual and visual requirements. Of course having a client curious in experimenting with the iPad and a threshold or lack of fear of failing was the critical component that led to our ability to take a chance in producing a uniquely different offering.
This leads us back to the title of the post and an old Japanese proverb “Even monkeys fall from trees.” (Saru mo ki kara ochiru — 猿も木から落ちる.) It is this knowledge or understanding that we must have in order to try something new that allows us to create something truly unique and industry changing. Failing is an option; quitting or never starting due to the fear of failing is not an option.