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SMART Requirements – Time-bound (Timely, Traceable) (#6 in the series SMART Requirements)
By Jessica Popp

Time-Bound (timely, Traceable): where appropriate each requirement should be time-bound or specify by when or how fast a requirement needs to be completed or executed. In software engineering, you may see the “T” in SMART being used to mark whether a requirement is “traceable”, which is my opinion is a separate but important topic in developing software. For this general requirements overview, the focus will be on the time-bound requirement.

  • Weak Requirement: The report will be available soon after month-end close.

    Why is it weak? Who is to say what is “soon”? You cannot rely on what you consider to be reasonable expectations of the customer. You may know the time cycle of month-end close and that it takes the first 5 days of the month to complete. The customer may assume that soon means on the 1st of the month.

  • Strong Requirement: The report will be available by noon on the first business day after the successful completion of the month-end accounting reports (insert identifying report id).

    This clearly explains to the customer when they can expect the report (first business day, not on a weekend) and only after a successful run of the closing monthly reports from accounting.

Jessica Popp is a practicing project manager in software engineering. She has more than 13 years experience in software development, project management and people leadership in both Fortune 500 and startup companies. She has a wealth of hands-on project experience from the smallest project to projects whose budgets exceeded $50M per year. Jessica holds a BBS in Information Systems, an MS in Decision Sciences and has a current PMP certification. Jessica runs Project Management 101, a blog dedicated to disccussing various topics about Project Management.

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