Ambiguity is Your Worst Enemy in Requirements Communication

Lesson 4.1 of the eCourse “Writing Requirements for IT — Simply Put!” View the full course overview and outline at
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DESCRIPTION (lesson 4.1)
Co-author and instructor Tom Hathaway first presents an overview of chapter 4 “Finding and Fixing Ambiguous Requirements”. He then follows with lesson 4.1 and defines ambiguity as the major source of communication problems that plague IT projects. He introduces and discusses the challenges associated with achieving a COMMON UNDERSTANDING of a requirement across cross-functional areas.

In the world of IT, misunderstood, ambiguous, and assumption-laden requirements cause more project failures than any other single factor. A recent study reported that over seventy percent of all IT project failures are blamed on poor requirements.

“Writing Requirements for IT — Simply Put!” gives you a set of 4 simple rules that will make your requirement statements more easily understood by all target audiences. The focus is to increase the “common understanding” between the author of a requirement and the solution providers (e.g., in-house or outsourced IT designers, developers, analysts, and vendors).

To enhance the learning process, the course includes several exercises in each section and provides expert feedback for each exercise.

Upon completion of this course, you can:

• Write requirements that focus on the business need
• Test the relevance of each requirement to ensure that it is in scope for your project
• Create and maintain a question file to reduce the impact of incorrect assumptions
• Minimize the risk of scope creep caused by missed requirements
• Confirm that each audience shares a common understanding of the requirements
• Use our Peer Perception technique to find ambiguous words and phrases that can lead to misunderstandings
• Reduce the ambiguity of a statement by adding context and using standard terms and phrases


To view even more requirements training, visit the Business Analysis Learning Store at

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