Need to Write a Business Requirements Document?

A Business Requirements Document (BRD) is a compilation of all requirements agreed by stakeholders in a project. The Business Requirements Document is the first in a series of documents that are produced during project execution. The key objective of this document is to detail the requirements in a manner that is understood by all stakeholders. The document will serve as a critical input to the project team members in the design and development phase of the project and will drive the development of the solution. The solution developed would be tested for conformance to the requirements specifications laid out in the business requirements document for acceptance and sign off by the stakeholders.

Requirements Management Process

A good starting point before commencing business requirements documentation is the identification of all stakeholders. The project charter document articulates the project objective, project scope and what benefits are proposed to be delivered through the execution of the project. The project charter would serve as a good reference point for the requirements definition. Requirements Management involves elicitation of requirements from stakeholders, analysis and documentation of the requirements to create the specifications document and finally conducting a walkthrough session with the stakeholders for approval and sign off. Once the requirements document is created, approved and signed off, the requirements management process will also address how changes to requirements would be handled and tracked through various project phases till completion. Business Analysts play a critical role during this phase and are responsible for the requirements management process.

Documenting Business Requirements

Documenting requirements happens through the sequence of activities as listed below:

  1. Identification of all stakeholders
  2. Setting up of meetings/workshops/interviews with appropriate agenda and topics for discussion
  3. Facilitation of workshops/meetings and documentation of the proceedings of these meetings
  4. Synthesizing the meeting notes for creation of business requirements documents
  5. Analysis of business requirements, identification of gaps and required clarifications
  6. Scheduling of additional sessions as required to ensure that all gaps are addressed and conflicts are resolved
  7. Preparation of the revised version(s) of Business Requirements Document
  8. Setting up of meetings/workshops for playback, approval and sign off of the requirements documents
  9. Baselining of Requirements Package
  10. Publishing the baselined Requirements Specification Document in the project repository

Tools and Techniques

Business Requirements Documents should be created using standard tools and templates. The templates used should be aligned to organization standards and support the Requirements Management process. Also, given the dynamic nature of requirements, tools that support tracking of changes to requirements during the entire project life cycle should be used.

Key Attributes of Requirements Specification Document

A Requirements Specifications Document should have requirements that are:

  • Documented in an adequate level of detail
  • Uniquely identifiable and provide traceability through the project life cycle
  • In line with project objectives
  • Accompanied by acceptance criteria for validation and sign off post implementation

One common aspect that is often overlooked in a Requirement Specification Document is Non-Functional Requirements. These pertain to performance, scalability, reliability and usability dimensions of the solution that is being developed. The Requirements Specification Document should capture these as well.

Summary

The Requirements Specification Document is the foundation based on which the design, development and testing phases of the project are undertaken. Hence it is important that adequate time is spent during this phase and the documentation is done with utmost care. The document should include project related assumptions, constraints and a clearly detailed scope. The task of preparing this document in adequate detail should not be postponed to a subsequent phase due to time constraints. Well written requirements documents are the key to project success.

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