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How to Save a Failing Project (Management Concepts, 2009)

How to Save a Failing Project

How to Save a Failing Project provides the knowledge, insight, and tools to recognize a failing project, determine what to do about it, and transform it into a success. Even more importantly, it provides methods and techniques that will greatly help project and program managers prevent failed projects from ever happening. Some of the topics addressed include analyzing your project, how to create and use a plan, how to build a team, identifying the products that will be needed and estimating product size, identifying the work effort that will be required, establishing a schedule, minimizing risks, managing external and internal expectations, managing scope and quality, and a recommended approach for project success.  A unique and helpful feature of the book is that brief synopses of other helpful references (the best of the industry literature) are provided at the end of each chapter.

Success depends on teamwork: on a common purpose, on agreed goals, on people in different roles working effectively together. Many engineering textbooks barely mention management; many management books barely consider engineering. Worse, different schools of thought scarcely give each other the time of day, when in fact they are dealing with complementary aspects of the same problem: making a project work. Young and his team are equally at home quoting software and systems engineers as management gurus. They can draw pragmatically on Six Sigma, on requirements engineering, on software estimation, on systems engineering, on peer review, on software inspection, on earned value management, and many others. This is good and right, and hugely necessary.

More than three dozen figures are provided that illustrate processes, how to involve customers, sample tools, templates, requirements-related topics, metrics, and guidelines. A card is included with the book that describes “The Project-Saving Process”, including inputs, outputs, and steps to follow.

The book provides a useful glossary, an excellent set of references, and a comprehensive index. The Foreword is provided by Ian Alexander,


This book is available from all of the popular booksellers. Shop for it at:

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Performance-Based Earned Value (IEEE Computer Society and John Wiley & Sons, 2007)

Performance-Based Earned Value (PBEV) proposes a change to industry practice to enable earned value (EV), also referred to as earned value management (EVM), to become a more useful and more cost effective methodology. EV/EVM is required by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for large projects; however, the history of use of these techniques is abysmal (see the Foreword to the book by Eleanor Haupt for a concise summary of the history of EV/EVM).

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Project Requirements: A Guide to Best Practices (Management Concepts, 2006)

This book is written for program and project managers (PMs) to help them realize how important requirements are to the success of projects. The book explains why requirements are critical and how to make improvements in the project’s approach that will make a huge difference in the results you achieve.

This book has many features that make it an essential reference for any PM:

  • Concise: you can select a few ideas to try in just a few minutes; you don’t have to digest the entire book to make immediate improvements!
  • Written from the PM’s perspective, based on experience on real projects!
  • Includes contributions from several practitioners—for example, see:
    • Chapter 10-perhaps the best explanation available anywhere concerning what is Quality on a Project?
    • Chapter 11-How to manage Risk.
    • Appendix A-The best explanation available concerning the critical topic of requirements traceability and the requirements traceability matrix (RTM).
    • Appendix B-A one-page article by Neal Whitten (PMP): “Meet Minimum Requirements-Anything More is Too Much”
    • Appendix C-A template for a project vision and scope document developed by Karl Wiegers.
  • Standardized Terminology and Processes
  • The Impact of Requirements on Project Success – A PM’s Perspective
  • Identifying Project Stakeholders, by Suzanne Robertson.
  • A description of a facilitated partnering process that could provide the basis for getting your project back on track.
  • Requirements-related project start-up issues and remedies for them.
  • Fostering effective teamwork.
  • Coaching the project’s requirements manager and requirements analyst.
  • Improving communications on projects.
  • Being agile: The “Right” Amount of Discipline and Process.
  • How to enable continuous improvement.
  • A rich set of recommended references and resources.
  • High-level requirements process.
  • Risk management process

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The Requirements Engineering Handbook (Artech House, 2004)

Requirements Engineering Handbook - Cover

This popular book is a desk guide for business and requirements managers, analysts, and engineers. It also is a resource for systems and software engineering courses that address requirements-related topics. It explains how to do requirements-related activities. A case study is provided with each chapter.

View sample contents from The Requirements Engineering Handbook.

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Effective Requirements Practices (Addison Wesley, 2001)

Effective Requirements Practices - Cover

Ralph Young's first book, Effective Requirements Practices, explains what to do and is available in stores from the Information Technology Series published by Addison-Wesley. To download a .pdf copy of the book cover, please click here.

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The 77 Deadly Sins of Project Management (Artech House, 2009)

The 77 Deadly Sins of Project Management

Dr. Young is one of 40 contributors of brief discussions of 77 difficult areas in project management, presented in this book as “sins”. For each, the following are provided:

• A definition of the sin.
• An explanation of how the sin arises in the context of project management.
• A brief case study/example
• Danger signs to watch for
• Suggested solutions, and
• Tips for addressing the sin

Examples of the sins include miscommunication, politics, poor planning, poor requirements, powerlessness, meetingitis, process immaturity, democracy, consensus, and scope creep.  These areas have serious ramifications for project work and the work environment.  The extensive experience of the authors (who are all seasoned project managers and team members) is invaluable to any project manager or member of a project team.  A suggested assessment tool is provided to help you zero in on the particular areas that will provide the best results for your project.

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