When projects fail or get into trouble, the term “bad project management” is generally used. However, studies have long since found out that in over 60% of cases the reason is inadequate handling of project requirements, even if the actual project management is carried out quite adequately.
For this reason, the topic of “requirements management” (often also referred to as business analysis, requirements engineering or needs assessment) has been gaining more and more attention in various industries in recent years, but not all companies are convinced of the benefits of systematic requirements management. Opinions such as “Our customers tell us what they want anyway” or “We don’t want to write documents that aren’t right anyway” are unfortunately still often found in people’s minds.
Even companies that have recognized the importance of requirements management don’t always find it easy to anchor this topic successfully and sustainably in the project context.
As a solution to this dilemma, we have developed a method for tailoring requirements processes in recent years that helps companies to define a tailor-made approach for the individual context of a project or project type. Supplemented by an assisting software solution, companies can easily be enabled to actually use this success-critical discipline with justifiable effort and desired added value.
On 11.04.2019 at 19:00 we will present our approach as well as the associated software solution at the University of Applied Sciences in Karlsruhe and play through it together with the audience.
A few days ago, by chance, we became aware that the renowned website The Digital Project Manager had included our ReqSuite® in the list of the 10 best RM tools of the year. As a young company it makes us proud to play in a league with the flagship companies DOORS, Jama and Caliber for the first time and to perform only marginally weaker in direct comparison.
The review is shown below.
ReqSuite RM (from OSSENO Software) strikes a great balance between customizability and simplicity, providing enough features to be useful while remaining lightweight, easy to learn, and affordable.
This requirements gathering tool includes a well-rounded toolkit of definable templates (along with the ability to create reusable requirements), workflow definition and visual modelling tools, and collaboration features. The biggest selling point of ReqSuite is in its ease of use—the navigation makes sense, it’s not overloaded with complexity, and the tutorials for using the product are genuinely useful. It doesn’t offer the capability of enterprise-grade system management that a solution like IBM Doors does, but it’s a great fit for most other use cases, and especially as a software requirements specification software.
In terms of integrations, ReqSuite synchronizes bidirectionally with several other third party tools, including Jira, TFS, EnterpriseArchitect, and Excel—and their WebAPI lets you sync with additional systems.
Even though “Requirements Engineering” is our passion, we as an innovative software company are willing and able to develop promising software solutions for our customers even outside this important field.
For this reason, we designed and implemented the exclusive real estate platform landspells.com for a real estate company from Luxembourg over the past 12 months.
Unlike conventional real estate platforms on the Internet, Landspell’s addresses commercial players in the real estate industry who literally want to realize value-adding projects on greenfield sites. For this aim, Landspell’s brings together both property owners and potential buyers as well as other parties involved in the planning and implementation process (e.g. architects, engineers or financial experts) in order to support the entire value chain in a seamless manner.
In the current stage, members of the platform can, for example, add properties for sale, sell them by auction to other members with the highest bid, and thereby increase their value for both sides through intermediate planning and analysis services.
In addition, Landspell’s provides its members with all real estate-related news, background information and events on a daily basis, making landspells.com the central point of contact for real estate projects in Luxembourg.
Ease of use or even user experience have now become central features for the acceptance and success of software products. This is not the only reason why every software manufacturer claims that its solutions are simple and intuitive to use and that it takes hardly any time and effort to work productively with them. Encouraged by positive customer feedback, such claims are often used for marketing purposes.
We at OSSENO also receive positive feedback from our customers and test users about the intuitiveness and considerable power of our requirements management software ReqSuite®. But are such statements really reliable if they are made by people who have already dealt more intensively with our solution or other RM tools?
In order to answer this question, we wanted to start an experiment to confront a group of really inexperienced people with our ReqSuite® in a controlled environment. In the winter semester 2018/2019 we therefore accompanied the exercise on RM tools as part of the lecture “Requirements Engineering” at the TU Kaiserslautern.
18 students were asked to carry out typical RM activities on the basis of a structured work script with 40 steps, starting with the creation of requirements and the maintenance of relationships up to the administration of baselines and views. Although the students had previously attended a lecture module on Requirements Management, they had never worked with an RM tool themselves. Also, our ReqSuite® was not introduced or trained in advance; the students were “thrown in the deep end” and were supposed to familiarize themselves with the software first.
A total period of 80 minutes was available to familiarize the students with the tasks and to work on them. 13 students (72%) were able to complete all tasks during this period. The correctness of the work steps performed was over 95% for all participants.
In a feedback questionnaire the students were asked to rate ReqSuite® on the Likert scale with the scales “very simple”, “rather simple”, “rather difficult”, “very difficult” and a free text rating of the perceived strengths and weaknesses. They were also asked to indicate the tasks with which they had problems.
When asked how easy it was to find the functions needed for each task, three students answered “very simple”, 13 students “rather simple” and two students “rather difficult” (see grey bars in Figure 1). The question of how easy it was to perform the RM tasks themselves was answered somewhat better. Here, five students indicated “very simple” and the remaining 13 “rather simple” (see green bars in Figure 1).
In the free text question “What do you like about ReqSuite®?” eleven students mentioned usability features such as “easy to use”, “intuitive”, “easy to understand” and “clear”, while the remaining seven emphasized functional aspects such as export and import options or assistance functions.
In answer to the question of what was improvable, the usability of functions for which most of the problems were objectively observed during the experiment was mainly mentioned. These were the function for performing a version comparison, the function for reuse from external projects and the function for bulk processing of requirements. Seven or eight students could find these three functions only after a hint by the trainer.
All in all, however, the experiment confirmed our claim that ReqSuite® RM is an intuitive and powerful RM tool. Although the lecture exercise should have focused on the functionalities of an RM tool, the question regarding the strengths was mostly answered with simple and intuitive usability. This shows that the usability of ReqSuite® is something that even first-time and inexperienced users will notice positively.
Of course, we will also take the negative impressions as an incentive to further optimize our ReqSuite® as soon as possible.
Since January 2019, the partner network of OSSENO Software GmbH has been enriched by a specialist: OMNI Inform-Pro GmbH from Munich, a renowned service provider in the fields of technical documentation, process consulting, project management and programming, is now going down common paths with OSSENO.
After a successful cooperation with a customer in Tyrol in autumn 2018, the foundation for a long-term close cooperation in the interest of common customers has now been formally laid.
In particular, but not exclusively, the two managing directors Dr. Sebastian Adam (OSSENO Software) and Thomas Holzer (OMNI Inform-Pro) see a convincing added value offer for medium-sized mechanical engineering and technology companies by bundling their competences.
For example, the easy and complete adaptability of OSSENO’s innovative ReqSuite® allows a fast implementation of improved procedures according to the consulting results of OMNI Inform-Pro. This enables customers to establish professional procedures in quality, process and requirements management more quickly and sustainably.
Since this is currently of particular importance in product development, the two companies want to support companies in the professionalisation and modernisation of their product development processes in a first joint step.
On 18 March 2019, the 25th Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality (REfSQ) will begin in Essen. In contrast to the annual REConf in Munich, REfSQ not only brings together practitioners from German-speaking countries, but also international scientists working in the field of requirements engineering.
As a working conference at REfSQ, the workshops will play an important role in addition to the lectures at the main event. This year there will be eight different workshops, of which the workshop “NLP4RE” will deal with questions of Natural Language Processing in Requirements Engineering.
During this workshop, we from OSSENO will present our tools ReqSuite® RM and ReqSuite® QC in the afternoon of March 18th. The focus of the live demo will be on our functions for checking the quality of requirements, for example with regard to completeness or unambiguity.
We are looking forward to an interesting exchange with the workshop participants and other manufacturers, who will also present their solutions there.
Christmas is just around the corner and in a few days, as every year, countless Christmas mail items are eagerly sent to customers, partners and friends by traditional mail.
Even though we appreciate this custom and are happy about the appreciation we have received, we consider it just as effective to send well-intentioned requests by e-mail (which is now standard in the rest of the year’s conversations).
For this reason, we decided this year for the first time to save any expenses for Christmas mail or even gifts and instead donate a respectable amount to the association “Herzenssache”.
Since the foundation of the association, about 35 million Euro in donations have been received. Herzenssache e.V. has around 870 children’s aid projects in Baden-Württemberg. Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland supported and its goal a good piece more near came: To give in the long term equal chances to children and young people, who live in the southwest of Germany!
As already announced in the last blog post, OSSENO will be represented at REConf® again in 2019.
This year we have a central innovation: We will offer our own workshop on the day before the main conference. On Monday, March 11, 2019, between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm, we will teach interested participants our workshop entitled “How do I get to my requirements process – tailoring made easy”, how to develop a company-specific requirements process in a targeted manner.
Relevant textbooks, training courses and conferences on requirements engineering offer a great overview of proven methods and techniques, but it often remains unclear which of them can also work in your own company and whether these best practices currently have the essential need for action.
Our workshop would therefore like to show how one can pragmatically and successfully tailor or improve one’s own requirements process without trying out what has been read or heard in trial and error manner without reflection. At the end of the workshop, the participants have a first draft of their own (future) requirements process and know which important aspects have to be considered in order to be able to successfully implement it.
There will always be short theory blocks / impulse lectures, which will be extended with practical exercises in which the participants can develop their own process.
The following agenda is currently planned for the workshop:
Fundamentals of RE Process Improvement
Self Assessment – Where do we stand today?
Activities, templates, contents – what is important?
The mental model behind the requirements process
How much documentation do we need?
The first draft of a new process
We are looking forward to numerous registrations, which can be made via the REConf® website.
In 2019, OSSENO Software GmbH will again be represented at REConf® both with its own exhibition stand and with a presentation.
The focus of our participation will be on automation and assistance. In addition to our full-fledged requirements management software “ReqSuite® RM”, we will also present our new product for the quality assurance of requirements “ReqSuite® QC”.
The conference will take place from 11 to 15 March 2019 at the H4 Hotel München Messe.
Further information will follow.
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