Have you ever gone grocery shopping without a list? When I go shopping without a list, two things happen. I usually come home with items I didn’t need (chips, chocolate chip cookies, etc.), and I arrive home without some items I really did need (milk, bread, eggs, etc.). The same is true when organizations go shopping for new equipment and furniture without a shopping list.

This type of shopping list will be referred to as a set of requirements. On our home grocery list, we will have wants (potato chips, cookies, etc.) and we will have needs (bread, milk, eggs, etc.). The responsible shopper will purchase all the needs first, and if they money left over in their grocery budget will purchase some of the wants – a treat to have while we’re watching your favourite show or maybe a dessert to go with one of your meals. We purchase our needs first, so that no one in our house goes hungry.

A set of requirements for a product we are purchasing may also contain some items that are needs (shall statements), and others that are wants (should statements). Here are some example requirements:

  • The chair shall be height adjustable (need).
  • The chair shall have adjustable lumbar support (need).
  • The chair should have a heated seat (want).

Whether you are going to buy groceries, buy a new office chair, or selecting a piece of heavy equipment you need to have a shopping list – a set of requirements. An ergonomist can help you develop those requirements if you don’t have them, or evaluate products against a set of existing ergonomic requirements. Watch for a future blog on developing testable requirements set.