Extending a Great article on using TFS for Requirements Management

I love this article, as it talks about one of the biggest challenges we face when building software products….. “defining and communicating the right requirements”.

I have spent the last quarter of my 20+ year career focusing on ways to improve how we define and communicate requirements, so it is a passion of mine.

During my time as CTO at Blueprint I kept hearing from our customers and from our sales team that Blueprints biggest competitor was Microsoft Office, as this is the tool set that requirements authors like to use.  Although Office is a popular tool for defining requirements, it can be better.  This is why I decided to start PowerStory.  PowerStory is focused on enhancing MS Office and Team Foundation Server to be better at defining and communicating requirements, as well as optimizing how test cases are created.

When we built the current version of Blueprint, we used TFS as our requirements repository to gain insights into it’s strengths and weaknesses for requirements definition and management.   What I concluded during this experience is that TFS was great and a lot of the key requirements for requirements management, such as traceability, and requirements organization, prioritization etc.  However what was missing was a good set of tools to actually create rich requirements definitions in the form of Use Cases, UI Mockups and Storyboards.   In other words TFS provides all of the Requirements Mgmt capabilities you need (and I had to build from scratch at Blueprint) but does not have all of the requirements authoring tools you need.  This is very consistent with what Martin Hinshelwood talks about in his article above.

When I started PowerStory we initially built a Use Case Editor plugin for TFS, which enabled an author to define a structured use case, which could have then be used to create test cases and simulations etc.   However I decided to stop that prototype and pivot the focus of PowerStory on to embrace the fact that requirements authors like to use MS Office tools to craft requirements details. This significant pivot lead to the creation of PowerStory for PowerPoint & Team Foundation Server.

PowerStory” enables Business Analysts to define “use cases” including main flows and alternate flows, directly within PowerPoint and then evolve these use cases into “UI Storyboards” by adding a UI Mockup created on a PowerPoint Slide, to each step in the Use Case. This approach combines your Use Cases, UI Mockups and UI Storyboards into one deliverable ensuring that these typically separate deliverable types are always in sync, preventing misunderstandings leading to rework. 

In addition PowerStory will also generate test cases automatically and export them into Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) as formal functional test cases or into MS Word if you don’t use TFS. The test cases exported to TFS are automatically traced to their corresponding requirements work items within TFS, helping you determine test case coverage of your requirements.

Because “PowerStory” is built on PowerPoint, your team already knows how to use the product. This is important for collaboration and gaining feedback from your team and stakeholders. In addition the built in presentation capabilities of PowerPoint have been even further enhanced with a Navigator that makes it easy to walk through the requirements in a simulation like manner while keep context of where you are in the storyboard and what is ahead in the storyboard.

For more information about PowerStory, please visit http://www.power-story.com

Martin Crisp

CEO PowerStory

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