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How to write excellent software requirement specification and get the product you actually wanted

Writing a software requirement specification must be considered the first and very important step in the process of developing any software product (web or mobile apps) with using any methodology, whether it is Waterfall or Agile.

In general, the goal of a clear and effective software requirement specification (SRS) is a detailed and comprehensive description of the steps, processes and development risks.

Roughly speaking, this is a handbook not only for developers, but also for managers and product owners. Work on the specification can be compared with making music. There is a composer, there are listeners and there are those who will be able to play this melody by notes anytime, anywhere.

Take the time to think through the specifications and get a good feedback - an adequate assessment of labor input, a clear statement of tasks, certain deadlines and the expected quality of the product.

Of course, the software requirement specification in software engineering is an extremely necessary thing. But it will achieve its goals only if you really  read it from beginning to end.

It’s good when the author of the SRS has a constant feedback from the team. This helps to make it smooth-styled and  terminology understandable. And a few more points worth paying attention to.

Easier to present


Better when the specification is written in understandable and accessible language. Human brain is not a computer. For some administrative worker decoding of certain concepts takes time, and often also discourages delve into the details of the specification. 

Of course, it is hardly possible to avoid the use of terms in technical specifications, but it is worth at least to explain them. The term must either be defined immediately in the text, or just put it in the notes.

Try also not to glut the text with slang and abbreviations. Use monosyllabic sentences.

And of course brevity. You will have to write a lot anyway, so try to stick to the principle “the most important and in essence” as much as possible. 

General form


Solid and monotonous text is very difficult for the reader. It is always great when the structure of the document is not only logical, but also supplemented with visual materials. Feel free to use:

  • numbered or bulleted lists

  • pictures and diagrams

  • spreadsheets

  • “air” (empty gaps in the text that make reading easier)

And of course, screenshots! They are probably the most useful in specifications. As the saying goes, “instead of a thousand words”.

Templates


Writing a SRS is a responsible task. And certainly not the easiest one. Therefore, authors often use already proven software requirements specification template in their work.

On the one hand it is good. There is a ready-made “skeleton” of the document, which helps to take into account the main aspects of the work.

On the other hand, you need to understand that each project is unique and has its own characteristics. Sections of the specification can be supplemented, changed, interchanged, detailed, or vice versa generalized.

The main thing is that the finished document reaches its goal, and the template is not perceived as a dogma.


We offer our vision of the SRS main sections, that we use in our work.

Software requirements specification example

1. INTRODUCTION AND CONCEPT

Overview document content.


1.1 Objectives

It contains detailed information about the goals that can be achieved with the product being developed.


1.2 Users characteristics and target audience

A description of the future target audience and how it affects software requirements. Here you can describe the types of users: visitor, user, client, admin.

1.3 Scope 

A description of what the application should or should not do, a functionality description.


1.4 Timeline/Lifecycle

Description of post release, changes in the product / its functionality later on.


1.5 General restrictions

It contains information about frameworks and standards that limit the developer’s options when creating a system:

  • programming language

  • coding standards

  • data exchange standards


1.5 Definitions and abbreviations

This chapter provides explanations for all specific terms to make the document more understandable.


2. REQUIREMENTS

The main section of the document. It answers the question about we want to receive. Contains the information necessary for development process.

2.1 Functional requirements

This subsection tells you what the software product should do.

Includes:

  • input data and its transformation

  • necessary operations

  • output results

  • arguing the need for certain requirements

2.2 Non-functional requirements

This subsection defines the criteria for evaluating important system parameters, such as:

  • performance

  • data integrity 

  • security

2.3 Risks and difficulties

About the relationships within the project and the influence of external factors. 

What to consider:

  • terms and quality requirements

  • monitoring, logs, transactions

  • lack of competence in the use of tools and technologies, lack of knowledge of the subject area

  • human relationships (team-management-team)

  • interaction with subcontractors and partners

  • political situation

2.4 Other requirements

This subsection usually contains a list of applications with common diagrams, for example:

  • information flow diagram (input-output data, their sources, storage and destination points)

  • user scenarios (interaction of objects with a software product, taking into account the main functionality)

Make good SRS and get what you wanted

Once again we’ll say that writing a software requirements document for each specific software product must be done individually. Anyway, the cool SRS document really solves a lot of problems at all stages of development. It serves as a basis for further planning, design and coding, as well as for testing user documentation. Using our guide you will be able to quickly make a simple SRS and send it over to your team. Alternatively you can download extended SRS document below.

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