Don’t start developing the software before writing the Software Requirements Specification document

Introduction

You have an idea for a software product. You express your idea to your developers. They start working on software development. And, voila! Your software is ready.

No, that’s not the actual process. It does not happen that way.

Before developing the software, understanding the requirements is essential. You need to identify the features, functionalities, expectations, etc. of the software. You must have all the steps ready between the idea and the final product.

This is what a Software Requirements Specifications (SRS) document helps you to achieve. It defines the scope of the software development project. Hence, it is extremely necessary for the whole software development process.

In this article, we will define SRS and explain its importance for a project. We will also describe the process of writing a great SRS document. You will get to know the best practices to adopt while writing an exceptional SRS document.

What do you mean by Software Requirements Specification (SRS)?

Software Requirements Specification (SRS) is a document describing the software to be developed. It is a document specifying:

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The requirements that the software fulfills

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The purpose of developing the software

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Features and functionalities of the software

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Stakeholder expectations from the software

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What the software is about and what it can do

Why is the Software Requirements Specification document important?

Software Requirements Specification document is important because it serves as the:

Project foundation

SRS document is the foundation based on which the developer builds the software. The process of developing the software is dependent on the SRS document. It mentions what you are trying to do with the software product that is being developed.

Reference document

It is the reference document for developers, testers, senior management, and end-users. Without the SRS document, the software development may lead to failure. So, it is important to create the Software Requirements Specification document.

Project structure

Every project must have an SRS document because it provides a planned structure to the project scope. This ensures that you do not go overboard with the activities, time, and costs. It also ensures that all the project stakeholders agree to what the software is about.

Answer to several questions

The SRS document answers the various questions raised by senior management, the development team, end-users, etc. Software Requirements Specification is a response to questions such as:

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What are we doing?

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Why are we doing it?

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For whom are we doing it?

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How will we do it?

We help you set the foundation for a new software product

What are the steps to write a Software Requirements Specification document?

Preparing the SRS document is not an easy task; it takes effort and time. You must give your full attention and commitment to it to avoid the repetition of steps. Below is the step-by-step guide to preparing a Software Requirements Specification document:

Create an Outline

The first step is to create a basic outline for the SRS document. You can create a new outline or you can use an existing template, which you can find online. You can also use an old SRS document used in your earlier projects.

Decide the author of the SRS document

Writing the SRS document is not an easy task. It requires discussion between team members and between different teams. The aim is to have all the stakeholders’ expectations aligned and on the same page.

You can either ask a representative from each team to write their part. Alternatively, a single, expert technical writer can write all the requirements. You should aim to write the SRS document in a clear and comprehensive manner. Make sure that it is easy to read and understand for the technical employees who will use it.

Collect requirements

Now, you start with the actual process of accumulating the requirements. You need to interview all the possible stakeholders from the demand and supply sides. You can select any method for collecting requirements such as interviews, surveys, etc.

You need to consider all the different types of requirements of the software product. This includes functional, non-functional, performance, security, and software quality. Ensure that you do not miss collecting any types of requirements.

Collate the requirements and write the SRS document

Now, collate the requirements and rank them. Write all these software requirements specifications in the document. Ensure to write in an easily understandable language. This ensures that everyone using the document can refer to it effortlessly.

Get relevant approvals

Now, you have completed putting all the requirements on paper. You must send this document to all the stakeholders. They must recheck the document and suggest any necessary changes.

If there are no changes, then they can approve, sign it and send it back. If there are many suggestions for changes, modify the document and resend it to stakeholders. Now, get the final approval so that every stakeholder accepts and agrees to the SRS.

Software Requirements Specification Components

Generally, for different types of projects, firms prepare different SRS documents. Still, some templates are quite generally used in the business world. The basic components of the software requirements specification document are:

Introduction

In this section, you include sub-sections on:

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Purpose: Purpose of the product

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Definitions and acronyms: Define the difficult and new terms that you will use in the document.

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Scope: Describe the objectives and benefits of the software. Also, mention how these will lead to the achievement of business goals.

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Intended audience: List the stakeholders of the project who will use the SRS document. These include project managers, developers, testers, senior management, end-users, etc.

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References: You need to specify the sources that you have used while writing this document.

A complete description of the software product

This section includes:

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Introduction to the product: Mention whether it is new software or an update of existing software. It may just be an add-on feature of an existing product. Whatever it is, you must describe these points in detail.

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Features and characteristics: Define the key features and characteristics that you expect in the software. You must mention for what function the software will be used and the attributes that it will have.

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Definition of end-users: Define who the target user for this software product is. There may be primary users and secondary users. These are also called product personas. It includes details on users’ age, gender, occupation, income, buying behavior, etc.

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Operating environment: You must specify the environment that the software will need to operate. It includes the conditions and circumstances in which the software will operate.

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Assumptions: List down all the assumptions you will have while developing the software.

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Design constraints: You must describe any specific code limitations or programming language constraints for the software development process.

Specific requirements

Herein, you include all the requirements for the software. It includes features, functions, interfaces, design elements, security framework, attributes, priorities, performance needs, data needs, constraints, testing requirements, and maintenance requirements. The key parts of this section are:

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Functional requirements: You must list the key requirements for building the product. These requirements contribute to the functioning of the software.

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Non-functional requirements: Here, you mention the requirements on performance, quality, security, and safety of the software.

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External interface requirements: You need to write about the interface of your product with external parties. This may include users, software, hardware, and communications.

Any supporting information

This section of the SRS document covers any special instructions, graphs, facts and figures, and appendices. These can be any kind of details that aid the process of software development.

Providing a logical route to your software development process With our software requirements specification services

Best Practices to Remember

You know what SRS is and why it is important for a software development project. You are also aware of the steps to writing a software requirements specification document. You can also access the template or can just include the key components.

Now, you can start writing an SRS document for your software need. But, before that, understand that you cannot make mistakes in this document. So, try to imbibe the following characteristics in the SRS document to ensure its full usability:

Completeness

You should ensure not to miss any requirements. There should be all the possible information needed by developers and testers to carry on their procedures.

Consistency

You should check that the requirements do not conflict with each other. They must be aligned in thoughts and work towards the project goals. There should be no variation between different parts of the document.

Clear

There should be no two interpretations of the requirements. For this, the writer must write the document in simple language. You must not use any fancy words, jargon, or unclear words.

Customer-centricity

The key attribute that the requirements must have is customer-centricity. It should reflect the exact needs of end-users. The requirements must paint a picture of the operation and performance of the software by the end-user.

Flexibility

It should be possible to change the requirements as the need arises. Requirements may change if the system does not work well, the operating environment change, or you get negative feedback. So, the SRS document must be modifiable to suit the change in needs.

Accuracy

The SRS document must mention the requirements as precisely as possible. Understand what requirements are important for the software and how it serves the outcome. Only then, you can make the SRS document specific and objective.

Validity

The requirements must be such that it is practical with the existing resources to achieve it. A requirement that is not understood, accepted, or approved by most of the stakeholders is of no use.

Traceable

It should be possible to trace each requirement to a source. The sources may be industry standards, government stipulations, or use cases.

Testable

You must ensure that the requirements are such that you can test them against some quantitative measures. It should be easy to measure them to check for their correctness.

Relevance

The SRS document must be relevant for the project’s completion. It does not make sense to write irrelevant points and long descriptions. Find a good balance and explain requirements that are pertinent to the project execution.

Conclusion

Make it a practice to write software requirements specifications to ensure project success. With an SRS document, you have more clarity of the work. This leads to realizing the project goals within time with more efficiency and effectiveness.

If you still feel under confident in writing an SRS document, let us know. We, at Technovisors, assist firms in writing software requirements. Our business professionals are adept at collecting, collating, and writing software requirements specifications.

We are an IT consulting and digital marketing services provider in Ahmedabad. We provide full support to your IT initiatives to ensure you achieve your business goals. We help you maximize the ROI of your IT investments.

We help you identify what IT assets your business needs. We also assist in selecting the best IT vendor that can fulfill your requirements. Our expertise also lies in implementing and running the system to ensure its usability for your business.

Looking for skilled professionals to write your Software Requirements Specifications?

FAQs

Developers and testers use the SRS document in their development and testing procedures.
By writing the software requirements specifications, it is easier to run the process. The transition from design to development to final software follows the reference of this document. The SRS document provides a definite structure and planning to the software development process.

The document mentioning software requirements specification facilitates collaboration between team members. It ensures that different stakeholders communicate with each other for a better product. They share ideas, form relationships, and cooperate to guarantee project success.

Another benefit of the SRS document is it leads to an estimation of the duration of the project. You can also budget the project costs based on the specified requirements. Thus, it helps you to make accurate estimates of time and costs.
The possible mistakes in the software requirements specification document are:

• Requirements are ambiguous in nature, leading to confusion
• Requirements are subjective, meaning based on the writer’s opinion
• Requirements are compared to some requirements in some other software
• Some requirements are missing from the document

Pathik Shah

(CISA, FCA, CS, DISA (ICAI), FAFP (ICAI))

Pathik is a multi-disciplinary professional with more than 22 years of experience in compliance, risk management, accounting, system audits, IT consultancy, and digital marketing. He has extensive knowledge of Anti-Money Laundering rules and regulations, and he helps companies comply with legal requirements. Pathik also helps companies generate value from their IT investments.