Christoph Heike - Author

Christoph Heike

Blog Post

How to Write a Good Requirements Specification

Every business is different and that means having different needs. It is important that you understand how to write a good requirements specification so that service providers can give you a realistic quote and so budgeting can be planned accordingly. To avoid chaos and bad performance, you will want to create a good requirements specification Not sure how? Today, we’ll be highlighting what requirements specifications are and how you can write a good one.

Defining Requirements Specifications

Also known as Software Requirements Specifications, this is a document that outlines and describes what your project calls for. It should get into the nitty-gritty and be detailed enough to be used as a starter manual for your service provider. It will cover the needs of your software such as how you expect it to perform, what forms of functionality are needed, and what the software will do.

In a way, a Requirements Specification (RS) document “”forces” you to write everything down on paper and cover your corners. But, this is good. Even if you don’t know how to develop your own software, the provided details will transform your idea into a reality as closely as possible.

Common elements to include on your RS include:

● Overall description of your product

● Purpose of the product being developed

● Functional requirements to ensure optimized and intuitive use

● Non-functional requirements

● How the product will interact with other external hardware

● Performance of the software in a production situation

● Design constraints or limitations in the environment that the software will run in

● Key points related to user experience

As a general rule of thumb, if you have something that you want service providers to know about your project – it’s a good idea to put it somewhere.

The Steps to Write a Good Requirements Specification

This section, we’ll cover the step-by-step to writing an accurate and good requirements specification.

1. Start with an Outline

Outlines are always important, and allows you to build up your SR as you go. Start off by creating your own outline or using a pre-existing SR template. For those creating your own template, break up your document into several parts so it is easily readable.

Here’s a basic example of an SR and the headings you can use:

Part 1: Introduction

● Purpose

● Intended Audience

● Intended Use

● Scope

Part 2: Overall Description

● Definitions

● User Needs

● Assumptions and Dependencies

Part 3: Software

● Functional Requirements

● Non-Functional Requirements

● System Features

● External Interface Requirements

2. Define Your Purpose

You should be spending a large chunk of time defining your product purpose. The more fleshed out, the better. It can help service providers get a deeper understanding of your product and the expectations that you are holding them accountable for. Your purpose statement is a combination of an introduction, purpose, perceived value, intended audience, intended user, and scope.

It’ll be best to collaborate with stakeholders or other team members while fleshing out your outline.

3. Describe Your Product

It’s also important to discuss the technicalities of your product. Summarize how everything works and how an user is expected to navigate throughout the software in a typical day. Give general descriptions of the features that will be provided and how they can add value to the user. When describing your product, consider user needs, definitions, and assumptions you are making about your product in the current tech ecosystem.

4. Work Out System-Related Details

While you already discussed general requirements in the last step, this final section is where you really want to get into the specifics. Discussing system-related concepts in detail will help you get a realistic quote because service providers will then know what you need from them. In terms of the product itself, you’ll likely get something more suitable by submitting a SR too. This final section will cover functional and non-functional requirements, which are the most important parts of your entire SR.

5. Review and Seek Approval

Before sending off your SR to service providers, it is important to review and get approval. Read through the SR, and add additional or supplemental information if needed. Then, you need to get all stakeholders on board. Rather than having them read through the long SR document, it is encouraged to create a presentation and hold a meeting instead. This way, stakeholders can collaborate and ask questions in real-time.

6. Finalize Your Document

If requests or questions were raised while seeking approval, update your SR accordingly. Once that’s done, all you need to do is send your document off and get a realistic quote soon.