The Free Dictionary defines requirement as something demanded or imposed as an obligation. An enterprise is required by its customers to keep its products or services available or else they will go elsewhere to meet their needs. Regulators demand that enterprises conduct themselves in certain ways or else they will sanction them in prescribed ways. Management requires the employees to perform certain functions in prescribed ways or else they might face disciplinary action. Requirements come from every direction.

Most Architects are familiar with the requirements because requirements are necessary to define the functionality of the systems they build. I call these local requirements because they are requirements for the specific system being designed.  Local requirements are easy to gather and easy to track because they are a significant deliverable to the project at hand.  The Project Sponsor will want all of his requirements met.

There is another set of requirements that are generally lost in the euphoria of the project process.  I call these enterprise requirements because they are important to the overall enterprise.  Unfortunately, they can actually serve to make the current project more difficult and more expensive.  It is important to note that often times, enterprise requirements become refined into local requirements and that’s a good thing.

Requirements can be subtle or deliberate. All requirements are deliberately set forth by some constituency but they can be delivered very subtly. Local requirements are certainly deliberately set forth and delivered.  They are the wants and needs of the person paying for the project.  Enterprise requirements may not be so important to the Project Sponsor so they become more subtle.

Casting these concepts back into terms we have used previously: local requirements are generally about what we do (or want to do) and enterprise requirements are about what we’re supposed to do.  Unless an enterprise has a mechanism for tracking those enterprise requirements, they can quickly fall out of focus to the people charged with implementing them.

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