In my previous blog post: Never Solve the Same Problem Twice, I introduced the concept of a Requirements Design Pattern, and explained how it could benefit an organization to document a series of requirements for intended reuse on future engagements. This post will explore some ways to manage these patterns within the organization, and will describe some of the tools that can be used to achieve this goal.
As an organization grows, and its use of Requirements Design Patterns matures, its quite common to be faced with a large amount of patterns with uncertain contents. To address this concern, it is recommended to designate a single contact or team of contacts as a Pattern Manager or Pattern Management Team. The decision to select one or several people should depend on the size of the organization. Typically, the person or persons fulfilling this role are experienced Business Analysts within the company and are familiar with addressing the challenges of managing requirements across multiple projects.
The Pattern Manager or Pattern Management Team typically manages a Requirements Design Pattern Library, which is a central repository where all Design Patterns are stored. The team also maintains an index, typically in the form of a spreadsheet or internal Wiki, which contains the pattern ID, Name, Hyperlink to the Pattern, Version, and Description of the Pattern. The index is the “go-to reference” for Business Analysts within the Enterprise, and provides a straightforward way to review pattern contributions. As patterns are identified and created on individual projects, they can be submitted to the Pattern Manager or Pattern Management Team for review, and inclusion in both the Library and Index.
Depending on the size of the Enterprise, a variety of tools may be available for maintaining Requirements Design Patterns. A solution such as Microsoft SharePoint can version patterns automatically, is offered by a number of storage hosts on the Internet, or can be hosted internally. Cloud-based solutions such as Google Docs, or Dropbox can also accomplish pattern management. For organizations that utilize internal wikis, it is fairly simple to build out a series of pages to facilitate pattern management. Even if these tools are not available, pattern management could be accomplished by way of something as simple as a folder on a shared network drive.
With a total picture of Requirements Design Patterns now in mind, consider it a challenge to explore the benefits of deploying such patterns today in your Enterprise. We strongly believe that such an approach can save your teams time, and improve overall requirements quality, which should ultimately result in a positive impact on both your project delivery schedules and bottom line.
About the Author
Chris Staufer is a Sr. Visualization Analyst with OneSpring. When he’s not developing innovative ways to document requirements for federal and corporate customers, he enjoys practicing martial arts and spending quality time with his wife. Chris lives in Atlanta.