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Independent Interpretation

This post is from George Dinwiddie's blog by George Dinwiddie. Click here to see the original post in full.

Many organizations segregate their programmers and testers in order to achieve independent validation of requirements.  If the system is tested according to an independent interpretation of the requirements than used for implementation, then errors in those interpretations may be detected.

This course of action is obviously prudent when the requirements are handed down to the development organization in the form of a document.It does not, of course, detect errors in the requirements document itself. Nor does it detect errors of interpretation if both the programmers and the testers read the requirements in the same, incorrect way. When there is significant distance between writer and readers, this is distressingly common.

It’s difficult work to write clearly in prose. Publishing industries have developed the roles of editor and proofreader to check documents so that erroneous or unclear segments may be rewritten before they’re seen by potential readers. People who write requirements documents are frequently better versed in the desired functionality than in the process of writing them. And, they frequently don’t have so much help.

It’s also difficult to precisely interpret the writings of others, particularly of people you don’t know. A word may have an obvious and precise meaning in the context of the business, but an obvious and different meaning in the context of software development. In the fields of literature...

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One Response to “Independent Interpretation”

  1. Kelly Waters says:

    Verbal communication is certainly a richer form of communication than written and is more effective than written if the conversation is occurring just as the information is needed. Otherwise it’s a little too easy to forget. Pictures, of course, are worth a thousand words, whether they are written or verbal, so a conversation about a feature just before it’s developed, supported by sketches or diagrams, is probably best – especially if the pictures are low-fidelity hand-written drawings so they’re ever so fast to do and don’t imply that they’re any more precise than they really are.


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