The most important task in creating a software product is extracting the requirements or requirements analysis. Customers typically have an abstract idea of what they want as an end result, but not what software should do. Incomplete, ambiguous, or even contradictory requirements are recognized by skilled and experienced software engineers at this point. Frequently demonstrating live code may help reduce the risk that the requirements are incorrect. One specific method here is Software Elements Analysis.
Once the general requirements are gleaned from the client, an analysis of the scope of the development should be determined and clearly stated. This is often called a scope document. Certain functionality may be out of scope of the project as a function of cost or as a result of unclear requirements at the start of development. If the development is done externally, this document can be considered a legal document so that if there are ever disputes, any ambiguity of what was promised to the client can be clarified.
Domain Analysis is often the first step in attempting to design a new piece of software, whether it be an addition to an existing software, a new application, a new subsystem or a whole new system. Assuming that the developers (including the analysts) are not sufficiently knowledgeable in the subject area of the new software, the first task is to investigate the so-called "domain" of the software. The more knowledgeable they are about the domain already, the less work required. Another objective of this work is to make the analysts, who will later try to elicit and gather the requirements from the area experts, speak with them in the domain's own terminology, facilitating a better understanding of what is being said by these experts. If the analyst does not use the proper terminology it is likely that they will not be taken seriously, thus this phase is an important prelude to extracting and gathering the requirements. If an analyst hasn't done the appropriate work confusion may ensue: "I know you believe you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant.