how to draw up a high-quality technical task – experts answer

My direction in the software development department is engaged in projects to automate document flow processes. We develop and implement ECM, EDMS (vendor solutions and the CSED 3.0 system, our own development, which is included in the register of Russian software), electronic archives, we help to integrate these systems with ERP, EDO, MEDO, SSTU services, etc. And we are among the top five Russian players in the market of document management systems.

Every month we review about three to four dozen technical specifications from different organizations and write them ourselves, for example, for internal automation projects of a company or providing consulting on the preparation of technical specifications within the framework of projects for surveying customer business processes. At the same time, we prepare design solutions, as is / to be business process diagrams, as well as expert recommendations for their optimization. And here it is important to keep in mind the possibility of the subsequent implementation of such recommendations. Some customers or other players in the IT market sometimes forget about this. And it happens that you open a technical assignment and do not know how to do it all based on what is described in the technical assignment.

Some TK contains hundreds of pages of text, and almost nothing in essence. For example, often clauses in TK simply contradict each other. For example, in one of the sections of the terms of reference for the development of a document management system, there was a clause that the system must meet the requirements of the legislation of Russian office work. And in another section it was written that the same system should meet the requirements of the current office workflow in the company. Everything would be fine, only this company was international, and our office work processes are very different, and there are no internal local regulations taking into account Russian specifics. And that’s just the smallest thing.

Sometimes a 2-3 page TOR falls into the hands, and this can be a pain for a potential executor of this project, who, for example, needs to quickly make a decision to apply for a tender. Plus, when discussing such a TK with a customer, extremely inconvenient phrases appear like: “Colleagues, we have described everything in the TK, what is not clear to you?” At the same time, the customer, who will then accept work on such a technical specification, will also be at a loss.

Therefore, this document must be clear to all participants in the development process. The correct technical specification for the development of an automated system is a practically-useful document, the content of which is understandable for both the IT specialist and the functional customer from the business side, and the owner of this business / top manager, and, of course, the project executor.

Often, having already looked at the first 3-4 pages of a technical assignment, you can determine who prepared – an IT specialist, a future user or a business analyst. And this is bad, because the first ones often go too deep into the technical details of the project implementation, the second ones concentrate on the details of work in the system, which does not yet exist and it is not clear how it will look based on the results of trial operation, and the third ones – on how this will affect business performance. And it is also immediately noticeable when the terms of reference are written backhand or when the entire result of the project is not so important.

High-quality technical specifications are obtained only as a result of teamwork, which can be performed both by the customer’s internal experts and together with external IT teams. It is most expedient to involve external teams in reengineering and optimization of business processes, when experienced specialists of a narrow profile are required. Such services are also in demand when the company plans to build a starship of unprecedented size from unprecedented materials. For example, in our company, system and business analysts, architects, industry and other experts who have successful experience in implementing such projects behind them help with this task.

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