Checklist for generating requirements

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What Is a Checklist for Generating Requirements?

Figure 1: Example of a Checklist (from student report)

Checklists for Generating Requirements are lists of questions that you can ask yourself when creating a design specification (list of requirements). Checklists ensure that you adopt a systematic approach to the creation of the programme of requirements. The most important thing is not to forget a particular requirement, meaning that we have to arrive at a complete collection of requirements.

You can create a programme of requirements by taking into account three points of view:

  1. the stakeholders,
  2. the aspects involved, and
  3. the product life cycle.

You can take these different points of view into account when generating requirements, and some provide explicit, clear-cut checklists (for example Pugh). Other points of view, for example the process tree, are not checklists by definition. However, they help the generation of requirements in the same way.

The Stakeholders

The aims and preferences of people set the requirements for a new product. Who are the people affected by the new product, what interests do they have, what do they decide on, and what information can they provide? Important stakeholders are the company, its (future) customers, suppliers, transport companies, wholesale and retail trade, consumer organisations, and legislators. An example of a checklist to distinguish relevant stakeholders can be found in Jones (1982).

Aspects Involved in Product Design

There are checklists of aspects which usually play a role in the assessment of a product. By aspects we mean such general issues as performance, environment, maintenance, aesthetics and appearance, materials, and packaging among others. Such checklists have been drafted by Hubka and Eder (1988), Pahl and Beitz (1984), and Pugh (1990) - see the example in figure 1.

Product Process Tree

The process tree of a product provides a third viewpoint to arrive at a complete specification. Between its origination and disposal, a product goes through several processes, such as manufacturing, assembly, distribution, installation, operation, maintenance, use, reuse and disposal. Each of these processes comes with certain requirements and wishes for the new product. You become aware of these requirements by making a process tree.

When Can You Use a Checklist for Generating Requirements?

Checklists are useful when devising a first list of requirements, at the end of the analysis stage in the design process.

How to Use a Checklist for Generating Requirements?

Starting Point

The starting point of using checklists is formed by the information found in the analysis of the design problem, the context of the design problem etc.

Expected Outcome

The outcome of using checklists for generating requirements is a first list of requirements, which contains redundant requirements.

Possible Procedure

  1. Search for the appropriate checklist.
  2. Use the checklist to generate as many requirements as possible.
  3. Work systematically through the checklist. Do not skip any of the points on the checklist.
  4. Follow the procedure indicated in design specification.

Tips and Concerns

  • Use more than one checklist; checklists complement each other.
  • More practical guidelines for developing design requirements can be found in: Cross, N. (1989) Engineering Design Methods, Chichester: Wiley.

References and Further Reading

  • Roozenburg, N.F.M. and Eekels, J. (1995) Product Design: Fundamentals and Methods, Utrecht: Lemma.
  • Roozenburg, N. and Eekels, J. (1998, 2nd ed.) Product Ontwerpen: Structuur en Methoden, Utrecht: Lemma.
  • Jones, J.C. (1982) Design Methods: Seeds of Human Futures, Chichester: Wiley.
  • Hubka, V. and Eder, W.E. (1988) Theory of Technical Systems: A Total Concept Theory for Engineering Design, Berlin: Springer.
  • Pahl, G. and Beitz W. (1984) Engineering Design: A Systematic Approach, London: Design Council.
  • Pugh, S. (1990) Total Design: Integrated Methods for Successful Product Engineering, Wokingham: Addison Wesley.

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