As the IIBA Business Analysis Body of Knowledge core team debates requirements categories, a lot of interesting questions are coming up about what is a requirement. Our definition, which is derived from the IEEE definition is “A requirement is a condition or capability needed by a stakeholder to solve a problem or achieve an objective.” Does a screen prototype qualify?

Well, obviously, once it has been approved, a screen prototype is intended to solve a problem or achieve an objective. It has been requested by a stakeholder, someone (the executive sponsor) has agreed to pay for its development and ongoing maintenance, and an IT person has agreed that this visual display and associated functionality is technologically possible and fits with the enterprise architecture. Sounds to me like something that is needed by a stakeholder!

Is it a “condition” or “capability?” Well, even a simple inquiry screen provides information, facilitates decision making, and supports the enterprise mission so that sounds like a capability to me. A data entry or update screen provides users the ability to do work, this also sounds like a capability.

Some people say that a prototype is part of the design (a.k.a., design phase, deliverable package, specification). I don’t disagree, but that doesn’t exclude it from being referred to as a requirement. I vote yes, it is a requirement.

One unique feature of a prototype as a requirement: it typically does not survive the project. Once the screen is developed, the actual screen layout is used for documentation, user training, and maintenance documentation. Any enhancements to the software and screen are usually specified/documented using a grab of the actual screen layout. As such, a prototype is a requirement only until it’s software component is built.

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