The Role of Management in Quality Requirements


For years I have been preaching that problems in requirements manifest themselves in design and development and are exposed in testing. While, this is true and completely accurate, it can hardly be said that development problems of this nature are purely the responsibility of the Business Analyst.
So where does quality and the motivation to produce quality come from? Well first let’s look in basic terms, at how a person moves through their career.
At first, a person takes on a new role and has to learn how to do the job (learning). Then they need to learn to do the job better (functional). Next they begin to advance to where they can show others how to do the job (supervising), and finally, they move to a point where they’ve done the job well for some time and understand it enough to be able to make changes to how the job is done. This is innovation.
It is challenging for organizations to attract and retain innovators unless they can demonstrate that they foster and nurture innovation in the next generation as well. It is especially difficult and almost impossible in an organization that focuses on cost as the primary metric by which success is measured.
Nothing we do happens in a vacuum. Business Analysts are certainly no exception. Corporate management is just as much responsible for deliverable quality as it is accountable. The truth is that innovation is nurtured in an environment that encourages it, rewards it and fails at it.
Building quality is really an inherent part of the development process when you have innovators on your team. But, don’t assume that just because you hire better business analysts, you suddenly have a winning proposition. In fact, the best and most innovative resources (business analysts included) will wither and stop contributing in the wrong environment.
Some of the environmental factors that are closely tied to quality & innovation are business model, company values, management styles and job satisfaction. This is because your employees are keenly aware of any discrepancies between internal & external messaging, how all other employees are treated, and how well people are rewarded for doing a good job.
By sending the message (verbally or non-verbally) to your employees that they are expendable or that the bottom line is more important than talent, that individual contributions are not recognized, feedback & input is ignored, and where micro-managers are promoted and retained, breeds complacency, micro-management, and disempowerment. Above all else, it shows up in the client relationships we have and quality work our resources produce.
Management sets the tone for quality. There is simply no question that we limit ourselves and our organizations when we foster this kind of environment even if it does function on some levels.
As IT managers, we have the opportunity to change and transform our organizations through the technology that is brought in to support production of our core business products & services. Well-defined and managed technology unties and provides opportunities for collaboration at all organizational levels in a way that is unique.
We ensure, the tools exist to create and deliver a quality product to our customers, we ensure that the technologies and people who build those products integrate and form a streamlined business unit. Even in an organization that does not value or foster contribution, it would be hard to overlook delivery of better products and improved customer services that drive up sales for the organization.
In a way, you could say that the IT manager’s role in creating a positive and empowering environment supersedes other managers, because all other managers and employees are only as good as the tools we provide them with. After all, business success is hinged on right product, right place & right time, and we ensure that all of that happens.

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Posted on 02/12/2010 by

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