A requirements engineer is an expert who explicitly takes care of requirements. What does that mean?
To successfully implement projects and bring them to the finish line, many aspects are required. One of them is the knowledge of the requirements for the project and the project goal. And handling those requirements is the main task of a requirements engineer.
The requirements engineer therefore plays an extremely important role within a project. To answer the question of what the result should look like and how best to proceed to achieve it, it is essential to know exactly what the requirements for the result are.
What a requirements engineer is and what he does exactly, I explain in this article.
What is a requirement?
Even if the term “requirement” does not initially cause any difficulties in understanding – here is a brief definition for our context.
By a requirement we mean all capabilities or conditions that are needed and must be fulfilled to achieve a project goal (a specific solution or product). This concerns both the product itself (what must it be able to do? what problem should it solve?) and all the people or groups involved in it – the stakeholders.
What is a requirements engineer?
The requirements engineer is responsible for systematically identifying and managing all requirements within a project. This requires a comprehensive understanding of processes and systems, as well as knowledge of the demands of all those involved in the project. In their entirety, they must analyse and prepare the requirements in a structured way for the goals of the project, i.e. the desired solution or result or product.
In addition to comprehensive experience in the project environment, communication skills are particularly important for the requirements engineer.
Incidentally, requirements engineer is not a job title in its own right, but a role within a project. Transitions to other roles are fluid and sometimes the requirements engineer also takes on other roles, e.g. business analyst.
Analyse, document, review, manage
Essentially, the requirements engineer analyses, documents, reviews and manages all requirements that are relevant to a project. These tasks can be done sequentially, but often – especially in agile projects – in parallel. They are also not considered a one-off activity but are always flexibly adapted to changes or new developments in the course of the project.
The tasks in detail:
There are requirements for the project and the desired outcome or product itself as well as for the stakeholders. These are all the people or groups that are involved or relevant in some way.
A requirements engineer has the know-how and various methods to elicit all these requirements in a complete, efficient and orderly manner. As this is of great importance to the overall success of the project, requirements analysis is an enormously important step.
There are a number of stakeholders in a project: The client or customer, the project manager, the software developer, various internal departments, the customer or consumer and often many more. And each one brings along different requirements. The client, for example, wants to have a profitable product developed, the project manager wants to deliver on time and in budget, and the software developer has to implement this technically and may have architectural restrictions.
The requirements engineer needs to bring these different requirements together and lead them to a common goal. His strong communication and mediation skills are extremely important here, as there are often conflicts between the requirements of individual stakeholders.
The requirements engineer has an overview of all requirements and their priority.
The requirements engineer must ensure clarity and comprehensibility in the structured development of requirements.
After all requirements have been collected and analysed, he documents them (e.g. in Word, Excel or a special tool for requirements management) and makes them available to all stakeholders. This also includes recording and keeping track of any changes to reflect the most current status as well as to be able to trace changes that have been made.
Requirements are not fixed unchangeably after their first publication. Therefore, the requirements engineer regularly reviews the requirements to see if they are still relevant. And, if necessary, takes measures to steer them back in the right direction.
In a nutshell: These are the tasks of a requirements engineer
The role and tasks of the requirements engineer are summarised once again:
- requirements analysis: complete elicitation and categorisation of requirements
- requirements documentation: clear and comprehensible preparation of the requirements for all parties involved
- requirements review: ongoing review of the requirements and taking measures for adaptation
- requirements management: administration, control and prioritisation of requirements and resulting procedures
Do I need a requirements engineer?
As an expert for requirements, the requirements engineer takes care of exactly that: your requirements in the project.
He brings structure and order to the multi-layered requirements of complex projects. Also, he maintains an overview and stays in close contact with all those involved; if necessary, he moderates coordination workshops. He draws on his experience and brings all stakeholders and their goals together, not least through comprehensive communication.
Is that exactly what you are lacking? Then it would be time for a conversation, I suppose.