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Using User Classes to Simplify Software Requirements

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When defining requirements for a software package I like to break them down by user class. A simple definition of a user class is a group of users with identical requirements for a system. For example, I frequently work on pipelines for pre-rendered cinemetics for video games or commercials. Some of the user classes might be: Producer, Modeler, Animator, Lead, etc. I try to list the requirements of each group. Here are some simple requirements for a time tracking system.


  1. Enter own hours for the current and previous day.
  2. Modify own hours for the current and previous day.
  3. View own hours from any time period


  1. Enter own hours for the current and previous day.
  2. Modify own hours for the current and previous day.
  3. View own hours from any time period


  1. Enter hours for anyone on his or her team for any day.
  2. Modify hours for anyone on his or her team any day.
  3. View hours for anyone on his or her team.


  1. View hours for anyone on the project.
  2. View a summary of hours for each discipline on the project.

These are just example requirements; I'm keeping it simple for the purposes of this article. The first thing you probably noticed is that Modeler and Animator have the same requirements. I would probably combine these into one group named something like Artist. By splitting the requirements into groupings you might notice that you're better off with two different interfaces than one interface. For instance, the Producer doesn't change data. In this case I might not even put a summary page into the software. I might make a special spreadsheet report that gets sent to the producer every day or week.

Breaking up the requirements by User Class helps to organize the requirements and direct the design. It also simplifies requirement gathering since you can focus on one group at a time and have smaller lists of requirements to deal with instead of one long master list.





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