Thursday, July 31, 2008

Experiences with Requisite Pro

As a business analyst in LA for close to ten years, I've worked both as a full-time employee and indpendent consultant working for typical LA based fortunte 500 companies including Warner Brothers, The Capital Group, Countrywide Financial and Sony. Honestly, I'm not tooting my own horn. These are very stoggy, conservative companies and the projects are typical not exciting, management is often over-weighted and slow to make any decisions. One other thing all of these firms have in common is that they want to adopt a process, usually RUP, but stumble through it and find they can't get there because of their enormous size.

I have used Requisite Pro at all of these companies, and the end result has proven unsuccessful. Now I'm not saying Requisite Pro is the cause of the failure, it's usually the fault of overall adoption. Lets face it, a tool is only as successful as the employees allow it to be. If one person has a fax machine, it's useless in the world around them. Same principal applies to software, and to requirements management tools.

Since I have seen the failure of Requisite Pro at all of these companies, I will tell you the common reasons for the failure and will get to some positive aspects about the software as well.

1) The Price Just for starters, although this isn't a reason for failure, only the deepest of pockets need to deploy a tool that goes into the 20-88,000 dollar price tag. ReqPro was built to layer into Rational Rose so they could offer requirements management.

2) Complexity of Parent-Child Relationships Requisite Pro provides vary interesting parent-child relationships in all elements of requirements -- features, software requirements, use cases, glossary terms, test cases, etc. The problem is that this complexity strangles any business analyst who wants to keep their project simple. Features are typically not parent-child based, software requirements are. There is no way to keep the project simple, unless you read documentation for simplification.

3) Microsoft Word into Req Pro, but not vice versa? Requisite Pro provides a pretty slick way of providing the ability to document everything from Microsoft Word and then migrate the document into your Requisite Pro hierarchy. After several hours on hold with IBM and speaking with several Rational consultants, there is NO way to reverse engineer requirements from Requisite Pro back into a Word document. This seems like such an obvious request, yet if you want to keep your document updated, you have to do it manually. Doh!

4) Use Cases with no Diagrams I love use cases, especially the visual context of use cases, although another Requisite Pro abortion is the lack of diagramming tools from within Requisite Pro. Any IBM expert will tell you that's what Rational Rose is for, but what about the 9 out of 10 business analysts who don't have access to Rose or don't care to have to juggle multiple layers of overloaded tools

5) Reports are plain ASCII If you like to build requirements documents in plain text, maybe this tool is for you, but for the 99% of the executives who like to bold, italicize, add images, layer in color, your out of luck with any recent version of Requisite Pro.
Requisite Pro has some pretty nifty features, my favorite being able to provide traceability at all requirement levels and being able to segregate and workflow all requirement elements -- but not for the $6,000 a seat price tag.