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25 Agile Requirements Specification

Monday, 27 October – 8:30-12:00 Morning

Jennitta Andrea, ClearStream Consulting Inc., jennitta@clrstream.com
Gerard Meszaros, ClearStream Consulting Inc., gerard@clrstream.com

XP advocates streamlining the requirements specification activity process, to the extent that conversations and automated tests replace thick, formal, and invariably incomplete/outdated requirements documents. The dials are turned to the maximum settings, resulting in maximum agility. There are most certainly situations where this approach is a perfect fit. But what about situations where this approach is not possible (e.g. distributed teams, safety critical systems, etc)? If we fiddle with the settings of some of the dials, will the end result still be agile?

This tutorial explores strategies for tuning the requirements process to optimize agility for a given set of project factors (e.g. team size, project complexity, project criticality, team knowledge and experience, stability and completeness of requirements, etc). Topics discussed include: What work products do we need to use? How much detail is required? How formal does the communication channel need to be? How formal does the notation need to be? What kinds of tools do we need to use? What is the impact of unexpected change?

Attendee background

This tutorial is targeted to developers, managers, analysts, and "customers."

Prerequisites: Knowledge of common requirements artifacts such as use cases and UML notation (use case diagrams, activity diagrams, state transition diagrams, class diagrams) is beneficial but not required. This tutorial focuses on the application of more general concepts and not the specifics on any one set of requirements artifacts.


This tutorial is extremely interactive (definitely not "death by PowerPoint"). Simulation exercises provide participants with first hand experience and rapid feedback on various approaches to requirements specification. Guided group discussions following each simulation enable the sharing of insights and facilitate a deep and lasting understanding of the underlying concepts.


Jennitta has been a senior consultant with ClearStream Consulting since 1994 as process mentor, OO developer, requirements analyst, business modeler, instructor, and retrospective facilitator. Jennitta has been a practitioner of XP since 2000 in a variety of capacities: developer, mentor, and writer/speaker ("Managing the Bootstrap Story," XP 2001, "Catalog of XP Project Smells," XP 2002, and "Framework XP," XP 2002). Jennitta is an experienced instructor; she has recently co-developed and delivered multiple sessions of a three-day course on automated testing for developers and a three-day workshop on agile requirements specification.

Gerard is Chief Scientist at ClearStream Consulting, where he leads teams applying agile software development techniques (such as eXtreme Programming) to help ClearStream's clients achieve faster and higher quality application development. He has presented successful tutorials at the past four OOPSLAs and has presented papers on automated testing and developing object oriented software frameworks at past XP and OOPSLA conferences.