Geeks With Blogs
Daniel Bradley

In my first post I started by discussing the motivations for re-designing a large information system from scratch. In this post we’re going to get a little more into the practical steps you can take to ensure you’re actually implementing a system that will actually meet the requirements of the business.

The plus-side of re-implementing an existing system is that all the current requirements are already defined by the existing code, the down-side being that it can be completely in-comprehensible and there may be features or tools buried deep down in the code that only 1 person uses!

To go beyond replicating the existing system you have to get involved in the day-to-day use of the system. I personally had a fair amount of experience with the last system I was working on, however, there was still a plethora of feature that I had no idea about until I talked to the people using the system.

Some of the operations that people do may not be something implemented using code, rather the existing system may well involve managers with large spreadsheets to track performance and assign tasks to their teams. Also this may involve people creating workarounds for the current system, such as printing or writing out information they use on a regular basis because they can’t get at the information they need at the necessary times. Although to a software engineer these practices seem slow and counter-intuitive, however, there’s probably a very good practical reason why these things have developed which will mostly likely point back to failings in the existing system and these are very important pointers to take note of.

Be agile

When trying to extract requirements the most important aim is best summed up by the last line of the agile manifesto:

Responding to change over following a plan

However thoroughly you research what you’re trying to build you’ll never fully capture everyone’s needs first time, so be open to changing major parts of your system even late on in the project if required.

Posted on Saturday, July 10, 2010 5:09 PM | Back to top

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