It is understandable that software projects deviate from the estimate. However, software project estimation can be reasonably accurate with the right approaches.
How to Define the Software Development Requirements of Your Project
There are many steps involved in developing new software, and one of the most important is the research and planning stage. This is where the product owners, project managers, members of the design and development team, and other stakeholders come together to discuss the software requirements. They then establish a roadmap with which the software development team can follow to complete the project.
To assist with the research and planning stage, the team will create a document known as a Product Requirements Document (PRD). Also known as a SRS or Software Requirements Specification document, the PRD outlines how the team will build, launch, and (if applicable) promote a new software product.
In this article, you will find out what the common software requirements specifications are for a typical project. You will also learn what information should be in a PRD and how we at Orient Software define the requirements of a software development project.
What Are Software Development Requirements?
The requirements of a software development project outline the steps a development team will take to complete a project. These steps may include designing, developing, programming, testing, and launching a software product. Another vital step is conducting interviews with the client and target user. The purpose of these interviews is to better understand the client’s goals and the end user’s expectations, pain points, and desired outcomes. This information helps the development team make informed decisions about the software, including the features, layout, and design.
The requirements of a software development project vary from team to team, project to project. Regardless, the point of defining the software development requirements is simple: To ensure all stakeholders are on the same page. About what, exactly? About what the software will do, how it will work, and why the software is to be made this way. By answering these questions, the development team will have a clear vision to follow, and the client will have the assurance that the development team will deliver on their promises.
What Is a Product Requirements Document (PRD)?
A PRD provides a comprehensive overview of the development process to build, launch, and promote a software product. The document serves as a useful guide for the software development team to follow, as it outlines the software product’s features and functional requirements, technical stack, target users, challenges (for the team to anticipate and mitigate), and outcomes (that the client hopes to achieve). The PRD also contains essential project information, such as the proposed budget, timeline of delivery, and milestones.
Aside from serving as a software engineering roadmap, the PRD has information about not just what the team is building and how but also why they are doing it. This information comes in the form of user stories, which are customer interviews that help the team better understand the user requirements. These include their challenges, their past problem-solving attempts, and their desired outcomes. This helps the team figure out how to make their product better than what has come before.
Why Is It Important to Define Software Development Requirements?
There are many reasons why it is important to define the requirements of a software project. Here are three of them and what achieving these goals will mean for your project.
Define the Vision
Defining a software requirements document gives development teams a sharp vision to follow. Without a development roadmap, a team may fail to understand the what, the who, and the why of their project. They may fail to incorporate the right features, fail to meet the user’s expectations and fail to deliver software with a clear purpose. However, by understanding the requirements of a software development project, a team is far more likely to deliver a great software system, a product that has the right features, which is a joy for users and that can help a client achieve their business outcomes.
Another good reason to define project requirements is to assist with stakeholder communication and collaboration. Developing software requires input from multiple stakeholders, including designers and programmers, marketers, and testers. For a project to be successful, everyone should be able to communicate with and understand each other. This is what a PRD does, as it helps all parties be on the same page. This way, there is no confusion as to who is doing what and what the end goals are.
Boost Client Confidence
Clients are responsible for choosing a software development team to help their business achieve its goals. However, entrusting such a task to a third party can be daunting, and if the project fails, the client could be on the hook for making the wrong choice. To help alleviate a client’s concerns, defining the software requirements spells out – in black and white – everything they need to know: the business requirements, the functional requirements, and the non-functional requirements. The document will also outline the potential challenges that may lie ahead and how the team will mitigate those challenges.
What are the Challenges of Defining the Software Requirements?
Despite the obvious benefits of project planning, software development challenges do come up. Disputes, miscommunication, and a lack of participation can quickly derail planning efforts. Here are the two main challenges of defining software system requirements.
Lack of Participation
There needs to be equal participation among all stakeholders for there to be consistent and productive communication. Without equal input from everyone, team members may leave out or misinterpret crucial information. This may reduce the quality of the planning documentation, making it harder for the team to stay on track and make creative decisions.
If the project requirements change midway, software developers must update the software requirement specification document. This can be time-wasting and expensive, particularly if the changes are significant. For this reason, the development team should receive continuous client feedback and then update the PRD accordingly. This way, the team will make changes in small, incremental steps, not large, dramatic leaps.
At Orient Software, how we work by following the Agile methodology, as we have found it to be the best for delivering Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and full-scale systems. We incorporate testing and feedback into each stage of the software development process, from UI/UX design to programming and quality assurance.
What Should Be Your Software Development Requirements?
The four main components of a PRD should include the following software development requirements:
This provides a comprehensive summary of the project. It should have information about the stakeholders, the current project status, the budget, and the timeline. It should also describe the purpose of the software and its type. Do you require web application development or mobile application development? It should also cover the type of technologies required, whether it be web development technologies, mobile technologies, or even Artificial Intelligence (AI).
This should contain the information collected from the customer interviews. It should describe the target user’s pain points, their assumptions about software of this nature, the features and the functionalities that they expect, and why current software fails to meet their needs. With this information, the development team will have a comprehension of who the target audience is and what the software needs to be different.
Along with interviewing target users, the team should consult the client and its business. The most vital details relate to their desired outcomes. What do they hope to gain (e.g., improved safety, productivity, and compliance)? What do they hope to avoid (e.g., damaging their reputation or losing their competitive edge)? And how will the software help achieve these outcomes?
User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)
Based on the information collected so far, the team can start to create mock-ups and wireframes for each page in the software. The UI/UX design services should start to explore the individual pages of the software. These include the login screen, main menu, service pages, and more. The point of this step is to determine the design layout and theme, including the choice of color palettes, font, images, and user journey.
Understanding the Orient Software Approach
At Orient Software, we are enthusiastic about building great software. But we are also enthusiastic about making the process easy and straightforward. That is why we take the time to understand the unique requirements of a project – before the work begins. We assess your needs, including your business goals, pain points, technical stack, target audience, timeline, and budget. This helps us better understand where you are coming from, where you want to be, and what it will take for us to help you get there.
On top of this, we are open and honest about our capabilities and our ability to deliver your project under the agreed terms. This way, you will know what to expect from us, our process, and the outcomes we can achieve for you. By far, defining your software development requirements – and preparing the necessary documentation – is the best way for us to communicate our capabilities to you.
To learn more about Orient Software and our approach to delivering incredible software, contact us today.
Topics: Project Management
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