Software requirements, in the most basic terms, are the predetermined and documented features, functions, and capabilities of a software project that are required to meet all stakeholders’ needs to be considered successful at meeting the project’s contractual and system specifications. Frequently, writing the software requirements is placed largely in the hands of either the contracted developer (who doesn’t know the client’s specific needs) or the client (who doesn’t know how to begin). Knowing the basics of writing effective requirements can streamline development, save costs, and create a better end-user product.
Writing software requirements takes skill, practice, patience, and a high-level attention to detail. However, understanding certain principles is a good start toward high-value, compliant development.
Writing User Stories
A User Story is the springboard for a project’s vision and the place to begin writing the project requirements. A User Story defines a specific requirement from the point of view of a specific user group. The story is written to display the who, what, and why of a requirement by utilizing a format such as “As a [user type], I want [a goal] so that [reason].”
An example User Story would be, “As a client, I want to login to view my order status so that I do not need to call the service desk.” Generally speaking, User Stories should be functional and not technical. For instance, the User Story in the example does not need to state that the client login should be encrypted, or single-use, etc.
User Stories should flow from high-level stories, with sub-stories below. An example sub-story would be “I want to view the order status in HTML.”
Defining Conditions of Satisfaction.
The Conditions of Satisfaction are the criteria that must be met for the project to pass the User Acceptance Test for every User Story defined and documented. These conditions should be specific to avoid subjectivity and ambiguity in regards to the project’s meeting the stakeholder terms.
The Conditions of Satisfaction define the specific goals and benchmarks required to satisfactorily achieve User Story goals. An example of a condition would be “Unique username and password login credentials must be created.” Conditions do include technical details. For instance, “Password must be 8 characters including 1 uppercase letter and 1 symbol.”
Writing comprehensive conditions is the real heavy lifting of the software requirement, and should be considered a critical part of the project life cycle.
Considering Non-functional Requirements
While deep in drafting requirements and planning the development timeline, writers often overlook the software’s non-functional requirements that nonetheless greatly impact the end-user experience. In order to protect stakeholder interests, consider writing non-functional requirements into the overall project plan.
Examples of non-functional requirements are data transfer times, cross-platform capabilities, and scalability. For additional information, visit Blueprint Software Systems and learn more from their online resources.