Monday, March 7, 2011


I got a requirement from a customer recently that said this among other things:

"The report should be the same"

Okay, great! Same as...... what, exactly?

I feel like this is one of the easiest requirements problems to find. It's simple:

Every comparison should have a comparator.

If you're going to say something is "the same", you'd better say what it's the same as. If you're going to say something is "different", you should probably mention different from what.

When I get requirements, this is one of the first things I look for, because it's really fast to find, and it's a good indicator that they haven't really explained much, at least in the information you're looking at. These requirements usually imply that you've crawled inside the head of whoever wrote them and are happily gathering your requirements directly from their thoughts. As soon as this becomes possible, I'll be happy to. Until then, I'm going to kick these back to you and ask for a comparator for every comparison.


  1. Catherine, good point.
    Oneof the important things to keep in mind is that comparisons are, for their very nature, multi-dimensional: So when confronted with a "same as what?" question, one can also ask "same in which way?".

    In you example, the report should be same.
    Same as what?
    Same in which way? Which characteristics?
    What do you want be the same as the last report? The format? Style? The result :)? The dates? The price/cost?

  2. A very good point, Schmuel. If we wanted something exactly the same as chocolate ice cream in all respect, well, it would be easiest to just get some chocolate ice cream. If we want something the same as chocolate ice cream in the "chocolate flavor" and "eating with a spoon" methods, then we can go get chocolate pudding, too.