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HOW TO CREATE A PERFECT SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATION?

June 13, 2017
ELIZABETH TROYANOVA
Project Manager
System Requirements Specification (SRS) is one of the most important documents you need to create if you plan on developing a software product. This document is an outline of what you need and expect your product to do. A good SRS is a reference point for everyone involved in the project, from stakeholders to coders, designers, and testers. The more detailed SRS you create, the fewer misunderstandings and delays you will face at the development stage.

CAN YOU SKIP CREATING AN SRS?

Startups are often chasing impossible deadlines and don't have time to waste on preparation. That's why they think that it is possible to produce a quality software product without creating a system requirements specification. Before you follow in their steps, consider the benefits of a good SRS:

  • You save time. Consider how many times you will have to explain your expectations to different developers. It is much quicker to outline all your needs in one document and refer coders to it, whenever questions arise.
  • You save money. Whatever engagement model you choose to complete your project, ambiguous requirements mean you waste your own time and have to pay extra for every change in your software product.
  • You have a better understanding with the developer team. It is important that your software development partner fully understands your needs and goals. This way you will get the product you expect and won't waste precious time on unnecessary debate.
  • You feel confident. When your business is still in the beginning stages, it is always a good idea to create an outline of where you need to go. System requirements specification will provide a roadmap for your team and decrease the chance of failure on takeoff.

HOW DO YOU CREATE AN SRS?

Completing a system requirements specification may seem like a huge and troublesome task, however, there are ways to make it easier on yourself. Look up standard templates available in abundance online. Choose the one that seems closer to your needs and modify it as you go.

The most important source of information on writing an SRS is an ISO/IEC/IEEE 29148. This standard was adopted in 2011 and superseded an older IEEE 830-1998. Here are some guidelines from the newer standard to help you start your SRS:

  1. Formulate your requirements. Requirements to be met should solve your problems and help in achieving your goals. They are described by measurable conditions and additionally bound by constraints. You must be able to verify whether every requirement is met or not when the project is complete. Every requirement can be ranked to signify its importance to the project, development priority or timing.
  2. Outline your conditions. Conditions reflect the requirements' measurable attributes. They help you verify whether the software meets your requirements.
  3. Place your constraints. Constraints restrict coders and designers, therefore, they should be chosen very carefully not to impede the development process. Constraints can be implemented across all requirements or the selected few. You can place restrictions concerning the project's duration and budget, physical limitations, national laws or software interfaces and platforms.

WHAT DOES A GOOD REQUIREMENT LOOK LIKE?

To help you speed the process of writing an SRS along, we have compiled a list of characteristics every set of requirements should possess. After jotting down every requirement, use this checklist to make sure you get the most out of your SRS. So, your requirements should be:

  • Complete. The SRS you create should contain all the information developers might need to complete the project.
  • Explicit. Your needs should be easy to understand and phrased in a way that will not lead to misunderstandings.
  • Measurable. Every requirement should contain measurable conditions and constraints to be easily validated and verified.
  • Consistent. The same standard terminology should be applied throughout the SRS to avoid misunderstandings.
  • Free of implementation constraints. Requirements should explain what you need without placing unnecessary restrictions upon the developers and designers. Let the professionals do their work, and the finished result will be better than you could hope.
  • Consistent. All requirement should be in agreement with each other, free of conflicts.
  • Viable. Requirements should not require major technological breakthroughs and should fit within the basic system constraints including timeline, cost, and risk.
The more precise your requirements are, the better developers will understand your needs. Here is a subtle trick to make most of your SRS. Avoid these terms at all cost:

  • Superlatives
Wrong: The system shall be the best among similar products.

Right: The system shall implement feature_1, feature_2, and feature_3.

  • Subjective terms.
Wrong: The software interface shall be user-friendly.

Right: The software shall be installed in less than 1 minute.

  • Ambiguous phrases.
Wrong: The project shall be completed in a minimal possible amount of time.

Right: The project shall be completed within 2 months.

  • Comparative phrases.
Wrong: The application design shall be better than that of the main competitors.

Right: The application design shall contain three main colors.

  • Loopholes.
Wrong: The system shall employ material design, if possible.

Right: The system shall employ material design.

Now you know how to create a good system requirements specification for your project. Use these guidelines and standard samples to save time and resources while creating your SRS.
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