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Author: Remzil Kulkarni

Requirements for the App – Tips and Tricks for the iPad World

Tablets are omnipotent these days. They have revolutionized the way we do a lot of things. App developers are in high demand and businesses with a product are jumping over themselves trying to get ahead in the game by establishing a presence through offering an app. The recent slew of customers that approached us for requirements related to an app offering got me thinking of how doing requirements engineering for an app is different from a regular product and what key things you should bear in mind as you develop your app.

It’s all about the look

What makes an app on a table device cool is that the graphics are slick and somehow makes the person using the app feel tech-savvy in the process. Like it or not, the “cool” factor for a user interface is one of the things any app is rated on. My advice is to not take this area lightly, but rather to invest in user design experts whose work you have access to and appreciate. Ensure the process is creative and collaborative.

Tip: In order to contribute as a BA, explore various leading apps in the same domain or targeted at a similar audience in order to find out what you like, what’s popular and what suits your app perfectly.

The sense of touch

Tablets are typically devices with touch screens, so your app will have to respond to touch events well. This can open up an entirely new dimension of engaging with the user. The level of satisfaction a user derives from a well-performed task in response to an intuitive action can be very high and almost addictive, and can encourage usage of the device and app frequently. Innovation can be key in this area as well – the iPad started a revolution simply by tapping the potential of this aspect of interaction with the user.

Tip: Mimic the actions you would perform where applicable. For example, flipping a whiteboard to get to the next page, or for a charting tool, pulling a pie slice out to see what the rest of the chart looks like without it. Then, ensure your user interface responds to such motions.

Give something back quickly

While we are using tablets more and more for certain tasks, not everything has changed. Recent surveys of tablet usage [1] show that while we use tablets more for tasks such as listening to music, downloading, maps and information when we’re on the go, we continue to prefer our desktops for activities that require extended periods of attention. A lot of work therefore continues to happen on desktops and laptops. Given this nature of usage, a good principle to follow is to give something back to the user quickly.

Trick: If your app is helping someone plan their finances, make realistic assumptions based on some key data to show them projections quickly in order to demonstrate the capability and value of your app. Then give them the opportunity to fine-tune the accuracy of projections by entering their data for better results. Once users can see what your app can do, they will take the time to enter data as they know what they will get in return.


Organizations are rushing frantically to put an app version of their product “out there” and establish a presence in the mobile space. But the problem is that when you have an existing product or solution, you can’t really take it in its entirety and “app it.” You typically should consider reusing components and bear in mind the overall goal of the solution, but feel free to make the app different where it needs to be in order to fall in the category of a well-thought of and useful app.

Tip: A good exercise to carry out is to study the scope of the existing solution that’s available and prioritize what is necessary and what can be forfeited. Your app should have functionality that’s absolutely vital but can leave out the bits and bobs that are incidental.

Keep your app light

Keep your app light. Reuse components from an existing app by making them available as online services. Avoid unnecessary data capture. However, if your app needs to function as a standalone app, balance the need to keep it light with its need to be functional in a disconnected mode.

Tip: Explore non-functional requirements related to app development to ensure all aspects of the app are covered.

Be aware of app guidelines

Lastly, be aware of the limitations and guidelines for your app. While most leading target operating systems (Android, Blackberry, Nokia’s Symbian operating system) don’t proactively publish guidelines before putting an app on their store, Apple has stringent guideline [2] and your app will have to go through a two-week approval process before it is made available on the App Store. However, even for apps targeted at operating systems other than iOS, the guidelines on Apple’s website are a great read to help you develop a good app.

Trick: Go through the guidelines on the Apple website for pointers on your app.


With all of that said, requirements for apps are exciting and a brilliant learning opportunity. The aspects I’ve put forward in this article are an excellent starting point but there’s lots to discover along the way. I wish you all the very best for putting together your app – happy discovering!

Don’t forget to leave your comments below. 

[2] Apple app guidelines can be found at 

Remzil Kulkarni has over 15 years of experience in technology enabled business transformation focused on Insurance, Telecom and Finance. She has a Masters degree in Engineering Management from Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX and is President of the IIBA Pune Chapter. She is a certified Prince2TM Practitioner and a Fellow of LOMA (FLMI). She currently heads the Business Analysis Centre of Excellence at Mastek Ltd., where she has worked for the last 6 years. 

The Role of the Implementation Consultant – 3 Things You Must Know!

Congratulations! You’ve just won your first large client and you are being chosen to play the role of the Lead Implementation Consultant for the engagement. You are being chosen because you are, at your core, an excellent BA and have a very high level of expertise about the product or solution that has just been sold. You will now be the one chiefly responsible for understanding the client’s requirements and , as far as possible, addressing gaps so that the solution or product that has been sold will meet your particular client’s needs.

 While the role of an Implementation Consultant sounds (and in fact is) very exciting, there are few things you must know before you dive head long into the shoes of an Implementation Consultant. It is obvious that knowledge of business analysis is critical to succeed at this role. However, this article is not about the art or techniques of how effective business analysis is performed. There are far too many guides, models, and other bodies of knowledge that cover these essential tools.

What then are the other things any Implementation Consultant should be aware of? The things you should pay heed to and have a strategy for comes from a finer understanding of the role of the Implementation Consultant itself.

The Role of the Implementation Consultant

Typically, the Implementation Consultant is hired by the product or solution provider; and while they may consult with the client or customer for the duration of the Implementation, they most probably will return to their employer to be staffed on some other engagement once the current implementation consultancy is done. In terms of long term association and who is responsible for job security, the employer has the upper hand.

As a consultant to the client however, the Implementation Consultant needs to build strong and lasting relationships with the client. The Implementation Consultant will be one of the major representatives to the relationship the client will have with the provider. The key to any strong relationship is trust. Essentially, the Implementation Consultant has to perform his/her role by staying true to the client’s interests, and thereby build a relationship built on proven good faith and trust.

While this may sound relatively easy, it can be very tricky, meeting both your employer’s and customer’s goals and meanwhile doing what’s right for the role itself. However, by bearing in mind these important keys to the trade, you will find yourself far better equipped to perform effectively, rather than if these situations catch you off-guard.

Handling Conflict – The Implementation Solution Roadmap

While managing conflict sounds easy, most conflicts arise when what the customer truly wants would involve extensive changes which they believe cost relatively nothing. In return, the provider would like to propose alternatives that might meet certain parts of the requirement but probably wouldn’t agree to do exactly what the client wants or has requested.

 In liaising between the two, the conflict often lies in whether the Implementation consultant should be true to his/her employer, recommending what they would prefer, or honoring the trust based relationship they have established with their customer.

However, the best way to handle conflict is to study the requirement and determine what’s best for that particular implementation, irrespective of what the customer says they want, or what the provider says they can (or are willing to) offer.  This involves understanding true business value and clarifying these concepts into measurable processes or results.

For example, while the client may want a user interface for entering batch data (multiple rows), the customer might provide an interface to accept data one record at a time. The true solution to the requirement might not in the end be either what is requested or offered! The Implementation consultant should investigate the source of the data, the volumetric data involved, the business process and goal, and offer a solution based on these aspects of the requirement. For example, it is very likely that the implementation consultant might suggest an EDI file upload, which would bring immense value in terms of reducing data entry effort, face to face time with the system and increase the ability to perform a key function more quickly and easily.

Configuration Vs Customization

In terms of their responsibilities, the Implementation Consultant is in charge of understanding the client’s requirements and suggesting how best these requirements can be met by the proposed product or solution. While every proposed product and solution will have gaps, over-architecting the means to address gaps can be the biggest pit an Implementation Consultant can fall into.

In such situations, the goal of the Implementation consultant should be to address all gaps via “configuration” rather than “customization”. Configuration level changes are made to settings that do not require the code to be rewritten and the executables to be rebuilt. Customization, on the other hand involves changes to the code which are custom built or specific to this implementation.

Confining most changes to the Configuration realm will allow quick and effective changes to the product or solution rather than long drawn out changes which will require time, effort and money! This strategy also allows the client to get the best out of a ready to ship product or solution where their time to market is minimized.

Industry is recognizing the importance of this principle and it has resulted in the popularity of the widely hailed “SaaS” or Software as a Service model. Most organizations follow the 80-20 rule where gaps which can be addressed by customization up to 20% of scope is acceptable, beyond which it’s not advisable and would tend to reduce the benefits you get from a proposed product or solution.

Changing the Business Processes

Every product and solution will have a logical process that runs through the lifeline of the product. When a customer purchases a product or solution, most want to have the product or solution changed to match their business processes. In fact, most customers will realize value by changing the way they do things to match the inherent process present in the proposed product or solution.

While I’m by no mean suggesting a major change to a business model or making an existing business process ineffective, quite a few business processes in use in an organization have evolved as a result of the demands of the current infrastructure. A typical example of such a process would be how a particular department processes dividend payouts which would involve steps such as recording the dividend announcement, the dates and the rates, isolating the qualifying payees, calculating the amounts, clearing payments, reconciling differences and finally processing payments. The order that an organization performs these steps could very well be a dictate of how their current solution processes this task.

Rather than carry these types of processes forward to the new implementation, however, it is absolutely essential for the Implementation Consultant to explain what business process the proposed solution expects and encourage and drive change within the customer’s organization to suit it. While regulatory processes, for example, will not be subject to change, certain other processes such as the one detailed above should be redesigned based on how the new solution works.

In Summary

All said and done, the role of the Implementation consultant is tricky, complex and very influential. How well this role is played out can make all the difference between a successful implementation that is the canvas for a case study and one that turns out to be a disaster,  retold for years to come about how things can go wrong.

Every Implementation Consultant has to play the base role of a Business Analyst over and above which they have to manage the direction of the implementation. Being aware of the 3 key aspects of implementations we’ve talked about will help guide your implementation down the right track, and ensure your customer gains the maximum benefit out of their investment in your solution.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below!

Remzil Kulkarni has over 15 years of experience in technology enabled business transformation focused on Insurance, Telecom and Finance. She has a Masters degree in Engineering Management from Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX and is President of the IIBA Pune Chapter. She is a certified Prince2TM Practitioner and a Fellow of LOMA ( FLMI ). She currently heads the Business Analysis Centre of Excellence at Mastek Ltd., where she has worked for the last 5 years.