As business analysts, it’s our primary responsibility to bring clarity to requirements communication. Unfortunately, many words spoken by our stakeholders can be ambiguous. Not understanding these words in their proper context or without adequate information can lead to situations where different stakeholders can have a different understanding of the same word.
One of my very favorite words is Manage. Manage can mean anything under the sun to anyone. For example, managing a schedule to me means creating a schedule, viewing schedule, updating schedule, deleting schedule, importing schedule, exporting schedule, reporting on schedule, and alerting schedule delays. For the developer in my team, managing a schedule could simply mean creating a schedule, viewing the schedule, updating the schedule, and deleting the schedule (The four fundamental operations on data).
Discussing the ambiguous terms with stakeholders will give them the idea that something is also missing from their end. They can do some more research to find how exactly they want the system to behave rather than giving information that is at a higher level. In this blog, I am writing down the top 50 ambiguous words I came across as a business analyst. I want all my business analyst friends to contribute to this list so that we can comprehensively list the ambiguous words.
Any time any of our stakeholders use these words, we would know that there is some ambiguity involved. It’s not that the ambiguity is always bad, but it must be clarified before something goes for designing and development. So till the time we are far away from that, it’s ok, but as we come closer to the design and development phase, we must find the real concrete information so that the development team can design the solution as per the stakeholder requirements.
|Rank||The word||What makes it dangerous|
|50||Most appropriate||Who decides what’s most appropriate?|
|49||As soon as possible||In the next 5 seconds?|
|48||In future||By EoD Tomorrow?|
|45||Usually||Where is the unusual stuff?|
|42||To the greatest extent||Who decides the extent?|
|40||Where practicable||Conditions not specified|
|39||Supported||Passive voice, Actor unknown|
|38||Handled||Passive voice, Actor unknown|
|37||Processed||Passive voice, Actor unknown|
|36||Rejected||Passive voice, Actor unknown|
|35||Always||Assumed certainty which does not exist|
|34||Never||Assumed certainty which does not exist|
|33||All||Assumed certainty which does not exist|
|32||None||Assumed certainty which does not exist|
|31||Every||Assumed certainty which does not exist|
|22||Minimum required||Minimum shall be achieved|
|21||Minimum acceptable||Minimum shall be achieved|
|14||To the extent specified||Non-precise|
|13||To the extent required||Non-precise|
|10||Fantastic||What is Fantastic?|
|9||Multiple currencies||Which currencies?|
|8||Multiple languages||Which languages?|
|7||Multiple browsers||Which browsers? Even for the same browser, which versions?|
|3||Great performance||How do you determine that?|
|2||User||All users or specific types of users?|
|1||Manage||Possibly the most dangerous verb – Can mean anything under the sun|
What other words would you like to add to the above list?