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Good Requirements Deliver a High ROI
by John Parker | Feb 18, 2013 | Business Analysis, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ellen Gottesdiener

A while back, Ellen Gottesdiener from EBG Consultants assembled a
list of citations about ROI and requirements titled Do You Know Your ROI on Your Requirements Work.
Ellen did an excellent job researching this topic and presents a comprehensive list of citations in
her article.
Also, Ellen and her business partner Mary Gorman have recently published a new book with the
title Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis. Ellen and Mary did a great job on this
book and I would recommend it to all business analysts, and especially the ones involved in
product management.
Below is a brief extract from Ellen’s article.
Success with Requirements Pays O䏒ᤀ Quickly by allowing you to:

Shorten your product development cycle
Deliver the right product on time
Boost your team’s productivity
Reduce rework and con䏁㴀icts arising from unclear requirements
Cost Savings:
Getting requirements right, early in your project, can save up to one-third or more of your
overall project budget (Hooks and Farry, 2001)
By investing only 10% more e䏒ᤀort in requirements before freezing them, large, complex
projects experienced signi䎼吀cantly lower cost overruns – 30% to 130% overruns fell to 10% to
20% overruns (NASA Comptroller’s O䏈㠀ce, reported in Hooks and Farry, 2001).
The costs of requirements errors are extremely high. For example, the cost to correct errors
injected early (during requirements development) multiplies as your project proceeds –
costing you 50, 100, or even 400 times more as the project proceeds (Reifer, 2007; Dabney
and Barber, 2003; Boehm and Basili, 2001; Nelson et al., 999; McConnell, 1996; Boehm and
Papaccio, 1988).
You save money by getting requirements right the 䎼吀rst time. Why? Because 䎼吀xing
requirements errors accounts for 70% to 80% of your rework costs (Le䏈㠀ngwell, 1997).
Well-de䎼吀ned and well-managed requirements reduce your application’s total cost of
ownership (Light, 2005).
You will save precious money and time by correctly de䎼吀ning your product needs. (Ellen
Gottesdiener)
Collaboration and User Input:
Trust. Shared vision. Common goals. These are ingredients for a healthy project community
and a successful project. It is essential for technology projects to start with a shared vision
and a common understanding of product needs. This makes for a smart start. Early on,
business and technical stakeholders collaborate around these goals and product needs. (Ellen
Gottesdiener).
Project success factors include user involvement, clear business objectives, minimized scope,
and agile requirements processes (Standish Group, 2003).
Collaboration between business and technical stakeholders can give you a 10-to-1 return on
investment (Jones, 1996).
Shorter Delivery Cycles:
De䎼吀cient requirements are among the top 䎼吀ve causes of poor project estimation (Davis,
1995).
Requirements rework is not only costly but it also slows down your project (Jones, 2000).
Incremental delivery is smart when it’s based on customer priorities and architectural
dependencies. It lets you reduce the myriad of risks associated with requirements errors.
Adapting agile requirements practices – such as using iterations, creating analysis models,
developing low-䎼吀delity prototypes, and co-locating your teams – can reduce development
time by 20% to 40% (Lindquist, 2005).

Successful projects use requirements iterations (three or four) and spend more time on
analysis modeling and elicitation than less successful teams (Hofmann and Lehner, 2001).
Business agility is enabled by your business analysts ability to clearly de䎼吀ne and manage
requirements (Henschen etal, 2007).
Deliver The Right Product:
Early and continual customer involvement in developing your product requirements is
essential. If you don’t obtain customer requirements through e䏈㠀cient means, you won’t
deliver the right product. (Ellen Gottesdiener)
You are spending precious time and money de䎼吀ning requirements you won’t even use. (Ellen
Gottesdiener)
Getting the right product means eliminating the many risks associated with requirements.
You do that by using sound requirements processes, actively involving users, appropriately
documenting requirements, validating and verifying requirements, and managing
requirements changes. (Leishman and Cook, 2002).
Defects originating in requirements contribute to about one-third of the total delivered
defects in your product. Missing requirements make up the largest portion of these defects.
(Firesmith, 2003; Lauesen and Vinter, 2001)
Customers won’t buy or use a defective product. A defect is not just a bug in software. A
defective product fails to do what the user needs. Your product may be missing functionality,
or it may not conform to expected quality attributes. (Ellen Gottesdiener)
To get the right product, you need to articulate your requirements early on, before the cost of
䎼吀xing requirements errors kills your development budget, causes ill will with customers, or
jeopardizes your business. (Ellen Gottesdiener)
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