Well-done or done well?

I remember flipping through the channels on TV and finding an interview with George Lucas (yes, that George Lucas.) The interview occurred shortly after the release of the Special Edition version of the first Star Wars trilogy. The interviewer asked George Lucas how complete the original trilogy was now. Mr. Lucas' answer was that he felt the movies were about 85% complete. The obvious follow-up question then became, "Are you going to revisit them and complete them?" The response was:

"A movie is never finished, only abandoned."
I wondered if this quote had any bearing on requirements and projects in general. My experience is that when you ask end-users what they want, a lot of them have a tendency to ask for everything under the sun. Features and requirements that probably would never be used by the vast majority of end-users will surface. Feature creep and change requests galore!

As a business analyst or business systems analyst you have a few cards to play to counter this.
  1. Sometimes it is too early in the requirements gathering stage to get that specific. If you do not understand the general concepts and objectives, then getting into the nitty-gritty will not help. If this is happening to you, just ask your client to help you understand the big picture while stating that you made note of where you parked their thoughts so they can continue later.
  2. When you prioritize things using cost-benefit analysis and dependencies, many specific features will become less and less important. Remember, not everything that is asked for necessarily is provided (refer to How do you know you are done?)
  3. At some point in time, the team will need something they can work with. Lock-down the requirements for the iteration. Any changes require either a formal change request or must wait until a later iteration.
Number 2 in the list, implies that not everything will be developed. I think people have a mind-set that everything they have asked for is important and should be provided. But, as you know, some things are more important than others while other items are not important at all.

I would rather spend my time getting the most beneficial and important features done correctly than waste time chasing after one-offs. After all, use of your time is an investment. Would you rather invest in more profitable activities or not?

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