System Definition

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System Definition - summary of the new system-to-be


The dish

System Definition



Summarise the present understanding of the IT system-to-be in a few sentences (max. ¾ of a page is needed). Try to integrate the customer's main values into the system definition.

It is recommended to prepare more than one system definition with different philosophy views and let the customer choose the one that fits his expectations best.


The system definition is a short description of the system-to-be which is to be developed. It is the first description of the system according to the developer's understanding of the requirements. It follows the rich picture which has been drawn in cooperation with the customer.

The system definition is a good way of communicating to the customer how we have understood the system-to-be. Keep in mind that the development process is still in its early stages and the developer still needs to acquire a basic understanding of the type of system the customer wants. By describing the requirements in a relatively short summary (max. ¾ of a page), the developer can communicate his or her perception of the system.

Not only is it vital that the system definition encapsulates the essence of the system. It is equally important that the system definition also indicates the boundary of the system; i.e. at this point, it must be clear what should NOT be part of the system. Hereby, the following tasks and analysis can be focused to target the essentials, the system-to-be.

It is important to incorporate the customer's values in the product. Therefore, the system definition can be written in several versions, each differing by the way you express the customer's values, and thereby the philosophy in the product.

The customer's values may not be clearly stated, and there may be different employee values in the customer's company. The sales department may have different values and opinions about the new product than the research and development (engineering) department. The management may have values that differ from all other departments. Sales may want a product with smart, saleable options that might not be of any technical value for the engineering people who want a product with high technical functions. The management's interest is mainly a saleable product that solves the problem at the lowest possible cost.

Therefore, the developer should perform an analysis of the different parties interested in the project - the so-called stakeholders. The analysis can provide the developer with information about the different kinds of interest in the project. This knowledge should be kept in mind throughout the lifetime of the project.