A QUICK SUMMARY – FOR THE BUSY ONES
To learn more about each step, read on.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Contrary to popular belief, great apps don’t just spawn out of thin air. They are an effect of careful planning, work of many people and long time of development. Preparation is as important for you as it is for the people that will eventually work for you. That is why it’s good to come prepared to talk with a software development agency you want to outsource your project to.
So how to write a good project specification?
Below you’ll find a set of essential information that should appear in the project specification document that you hand out for assessment and estimation.
A project specification document, also known as a software requirements specification (SRS) or a functional specification, is a comprehensive document that outlines the detailed requirements and specifications of a software development project. It serves as a blueprint and a communication tool between the client and the development team, ensuring a shared understanding of the project's goals, functionalities, and constraints.
The project specification document provides a detailed description of the software system, including its features, functionality, behavior, and user interactions. It defines what the software should do, how it should behave, and the expected outcomes of user interactions. It covers both the functional requirements, which describe the desired features and capabilities of the software, as well as the non-functional requirements, which specify the qualities and constraints of the system, such as performance, security, and usability.
A well-written project specification document ensures a common understanding between the client and the development team, reduces ambiguities, and serves as a reference point throughout the software development lifecycle. It helps align expectations, guide the development process, and facilitate effective communication and collaboration between stakeholders.
The best way to start off is to make the document transparent – the top section should contain the most basic contact info: company name, website, people involved and their contact details. Plus, here you can give an introduction, informing what this document is about and why you send it.
Knowing what your company does and what role the app will play in your business will help a vendor understand you and your needs better. When a development team understands why they’re coding something, they’ll be able to match their solutions to your goals.
Provide a list of your business requirements the software needs to address. Here you can also give description of project's value proposition.
Describe your needs towards technical side of the project. Provide:
There are two ways to approach the features topic. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
List – a detailed list of components and their desired attributes is a good way of handling teams over which you want (or need) to have more control or those that you feel need more guidance. The minus here is the limitations it puts on the Developers, especially if they are a self-organizing, highly specialized and self-sufficient team.
High level description – this is a great way to work with specialists. By roughly describing your needs regarding what you want the app to do, you allow for the team to plan their own solutions, tailored to your needs, when the real work begins. Instead of giving the Team a To-Do list, it allows for you to draw from experience of the Developers, Designers and Business Analysts that you plan to employ.
For most it seems obvious that we should be aware for which platforms we’re to build the app. Web, desktop, mobile – Android and/or iOS. But if there are any additional requirements that you know exist, knowing them up-front saves everyone a lot of time.
Versions – what backward compatibility do you have in mind and why?
Dependencies – are there any APIs that need to be taken into account? Third party applications that we’ll need to connect to?
Stacks – are there any particular stacks you would want to use here? Why? If there is existing code, what language is it?
Provide information about your requirements concerning:
Provide information about design - do you need an external partner to provide it or do you have it already?
What are your expectations towards Quality Assurance?
Data - knowledge about, or better yet, access to what you already have, will help us tremendously to evaluate the project and what needs to be done. This can be a multitude of things:
Existing App – is your project a new version of an already existing application?
Cover your expectations and provide essential information about:
All development teams work with certain sets of rules – it’s best to know if your rules are similar to the devs’ and what areas need to be adjusted in your future cooperation; which in turn will make the workflow that much more smooth.
Additional helpful questions:
Limitations – is there a budget constraint? Are you aiming for a specific deadline (if yes, why)?
Ownership – who do you want to lead the project – to make technical decisions, prioritize work, decide on Acceptance Criteria and so on?
People Involved – will the project be executed fully in a single development house? Will there be other developers involved? Will people from other areas (like Directors or Marketing Specialists) have input in the team’s work?
People you need – will you require a full team? Or just specific roles to be filled? Please consider if you require:
Workflow – are you used to working with any project framework like Scrum, Kanban or Waterfall? Will it be your requirement to work using it?
The purpose of this document is to define the software requirements for an educational web application. The application aims to provide an online platform that facilitates learning, collaboration, and access to educational resources for students and teachers.
[Company name, website, people involved and their contact details]
2. Business & Project Outline
2.1 Company Description
Our company is an established educational institution that specializes in providing online learning resources and courses for students of all ages. We have a team of experienced educators and subject matter experts who create high-quality educational content.
2.2. App's Role in Business
The web application will serve as a central platform for our educational services, offering a seamless and interactive learning experience for our students. It will enable us to expand our reach, deliver courses effectively, and provide a comprehensive learning environment.
2.3 Project Status
This project involves developing a new version of our existing web application to enhance its features, improve user experience, and incorporate new technologies.
2.4 Problem Statement
We want to address the challenge of engaging and retaining students in online learning environments. We aim to provide a more interactive and personalized learning experience that encourages active participation and supports student success.
2.5 Project Goals
The goals of this project include:
2.6 Target Audience
The target audience for our web application includes K-12 students, college students, and adult learners seeking to enhance their knowledge and skills. We aim to cater to both individual learners and educational institutions looking for supplementary online learning resources.
3. Business Requirements
The software should address the following business requirements:
4. Functional Requirements
4.2 System Architecture and Integration
5. Non-Functional Requirements
The software should meet the following non-functional requirements:
5.5 Data Management
6. Design Requirements
6.1 User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) Design
7. Testing and Quality Requirements
The software should undergo comprehensive testing to ensure functional correctness, usability, performance, and security. Quality assurance measures should be followed to deliver a robust and reliable product.
Existing materials, such as mockups, graphic designs, and usability testing results, will be provided to assist in the development process. Any information about existing applications or systems that need to be integrated should also be shared.
9.1 Project Timeline and Milestones
9.2 Project Management and Communication
A dedicated project manager will oversee the project, ensuring effective communication among all stakeholders.
9.3 Acceptance Criteria
9.4 Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities
9.5 Communication and Reporting
9.6 Change Management
While writing a project specification document, there are several common mistakes that should be avoided to ensure the document effectively captures the project requirements. Some of these mistakes include:
Failing to provide clear and concise information can lead to misunderstandings and ambiguity. It's essential to use precise language and avoid vague statements or assumptions.
Not capturing all the necessary requirements can result in gaps or oversights during the development process. Thoroughly analyze and document all functional, non-functional, and technical requirements to ensure comprehensive coverage.
Failing to define clear objectives and goals can lead to misalignment between stakeholders and the development team. Clearly state the purpose of the project, the desired outcomes, and how the software will address the business needs.
Neglecting to involve all relevant stakeholders during the specification process can result in incomplete or inaccurate requirements. Engage stakeholders from various departments or roles to gather comprehensive input and ensure their needs are considered.
Unclear acceptance criteria make it challenging to determine when the project's deliverables meet the specified requirements. Clearly define the criteria or tests that will be used to evaluate the software and determine its acceptance.
Focusing solely on functional requirements and neglecting non-functional aspects such as performance, security, or usability can lead to suboptimal software. Give due consideration to non-functional requirements to ensure a high-quality product.
Inconsistent formatting, structure, or terminology throughout the document can create confusion and hinder understanding. Maintain consistency in document structure, language, and formatting to improve readability and clarity.
Ignoring external dependencies, such as integration with third-party systems or compliance with industry regulations, can result in delays or costly modifications later. Identify and document all external dependencies to ensure their inclusion in the development plan.
When writing a software development requirements document, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. Here are some key points to remember:
Use clear and concise language to convey requirements accurately. Avoid ambiguity, jargon, or technical terms that may not be understood by all stakeholders.
Involve all relevant stakeholders in the requirements gathering process to ensure their needs and perspectives are captured. This includes end-users, clients, developers, testers, and any other individuals or teams impacted by the software.
Be as specific and detailed as possible when describing requirements. Include information about desired functionality, user interactions, system behaviors, input and output data, error handling, and any other relevant details.
Clearly indicate the priority of each requirement to guide the development team's focus. Distinguish between must-have, should-have, and nice-to-have requirements to facilitate effective decision-making during development.
Utilize use cases or user stories to provide concrete examples of how the software will be used in different scenarios. This helps clarify user interactions, system behavior, and expected outcomes.
Ensure that each requirement is testable and can be validated against defined acceptance criteria. This helps ensure the quality and correctness of the software.
Don't overlook non-functional requirements such as performance, security, scalability, usability, and compatibility. Include specific metrics, thresholds, or constraints for these aspects to guide the development process.
Validate the requirements document with all stakeholders to ensure accuracy, completeness, and alignment with their expectations. Seek feedback and incorporate necessary revisions before proceeding with development.
Establish a process for managing change requests during the development process. Clearly define how changes will be evaluated, approved, and incorporated, considering their impact on the project's timeline, budget, and scope.
Continuously update and maintain the requirements document as the project progresses. Document any changes, decisions, or updates to ensure the document remains a reliable reference throughout the software development lifecycle.
By keeping these points in mind, you can create a robust and comprehensive software development requirements document that effectively captures the needs, expectations, and specifications for the software project.
Good software specification allows the team you want to employ to address your business needs, the scope of your project and your expectations with more robust info than they’d derive from a simple brief.
As long as you show your vision and outline your needs in an unambiguous manner, every step after that draws from this clarity and creates better conditions for the success of your project.
Every year, Brainhub helps 750,000+ founders, leaders and software engineers make smart tech decisions. We earn that trust by openly sharing our insights based on practical software engineering experience.
A serial entrepreneur, passionate R&D engineer, with 15 years of experience in the tech industry.
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