How Reuse Can Help You Define World-Class Compliance Requirements

Lately, we’ve been sharing our thoughts about the many challenges teams face developing quality regulatory compliance requirements. And it’s a long list: Regulations are hard to interpret, they change, and it’s tough to get to the busy people who can help you understand their impact. They can vary across countries or regions and impact multiple systems in different ways. And Product Owners and Business Analysts often lack the business and technical expertise to know who to talk to, what questions to ask, or how to interpret what they hear.

These challenges force teams to define regulatory compliance requirements in their own project or system siloes – an unfortunate outcome, given today’s needs to deliver faster and make the most use of slim resources. Instead of developing consistent compliance solutions to meet global needs, each team creates its own – duplicating efforts and delivering a diverse set of solutions.

If you face this challenge, there’s an industry best practice that can help you define world-class regulatory compliance requirements in less time: Requirements reuse.

Requirements reuse is the practice of defining requirements once, storing them centrally, and using them across projects and systems. There’s major value in developing and maintaining one high-quality, authoritative source of complete and accurate information – which can include user stories, use cases, process models, business rules, and other requirements artifacts.

  • Better requirements lead to higher-quality software. By pre-defining a strong set of reusable requirements, quality isn’t dependent on a team’s or individual’s unique perspective or expertise. Reuse of complete, accurate, well-presented requirements artifacts improves software quality across projects and systems.
  • Access to pre-defined requirements speeds up your delivery processes. Product Owners and Business Analysts don’t have to start from scratch eliciting, analyzing, and documenting. They save time by reducing the all-too-common bottleneck that happens when trying to get on stakeholders’ busy schedules. And those busy people’s time isn’t wasted on duplicate elicitation and requirements review sessions. Leveraging a pre-defined set of requirements artifacts has the potential to slice time out of the delivery process on every project that does it. It also reduces duplication of efforts and optimizes resource use.
  • More consistency simplifies so many processes. The impact of regulatory change is analyzed once instead of multiple times in project or system siloes. Creating user documentation and training materials is easier because requirements are the same. User training takes less time, because users don’t have to understand multiple solutions. Software change and support takes less effort because solutions are similar. Even corporate governance of regulatory compliance is simpler thanks to consistency.

Not all software requirements are candidates for reuse, but many are, including those related to concepts like access security, data confidentiality, data availability, authentication, logging, and auditability. Compliance requirements are prime reuse candidates, because they usually have a similar impact across projects and systems. Great examples include HIPAA’s security and privacy requirements. Why elicit, analyze, and document them multiple times in siloes instead of once in a common repository accessible across teams?

Developing a requirements reuse practice takes effort. Your organization needs to determine which requirements are reuse candidates and develop a set of high-quality artifacts to be reused. It needs to build a common repository and create a taxonomy for easy requirements identification. It must also develop processes for change management of these reusable requirements so they are always up-to-date. Fortunately, mature requirements tools provide robust functionality to promote requirements reuse, so there are ways to jumpstart your reuse practice development. And when it comes to regulatory compliance and other reusable requirements, the benefits are well worth it.

If regulatory compliance requirements challenge you, check out our other posts on the subject:

And for more information or a demo of Blueprint’s support for requirements reuse, please contact us today.

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