In the development process, software requirements provide the foundation for an application. From providing direction to developers, to quality control tests that gauge how an application functions against requirements, to the documentation users are provided – requirements guide all aspects of how the app will look, function and even be marketed to potential buyers.
“Software requirements are a process not a destination”.
In the software world, software requirements basically do what a CAD drawing of a building does for architects and builders,” said Matt Dillon, Vice President of Business Development. “A lot of people are involved in the development process and it gives everyone direction.”
Software requirements, which can sometimes be called “specifications,” evolve from a vision and can be compiled in either an agile or waterfall format. An effective software requirements document should clearly outline functional requirements vs non-functional requirements and system requirements. Functional requirements state what the software system should do, while non-functional requirements describe how the system will work. System requirements describe necessary hardware or software platform infrastructure is required to support the app.
The requirements process generally includes these steps:
1. Establishing requirements scope
2. Gathering requirements
3. Modeling requirements
4. Communicating status
5. Analyzing requirements
6. Reviewing requirements
7. Approving requirements
8. Updating requirements
Not surprisingly, significant effort goes into the requirements gathering and documentation as an app begins to take shape. And, requirements continue to serve as the centerpiece of discussion throughout the application’s software development lifecycle.
“Requirements are not a destination but a process, and as the user’s needs grow and the business grows, the requirements change,” Dillon said. “Requirements continually evolve to match specific needs.”
Effective software requirements documentation plays a key role in the success of an app. They can also be a factor in determining how long an app takes to get to market. Requirements that are well defined and conceptualized can reduce rework and associated development costs. Changes to requirements also must be managed effectively to maintain progress on development.
Requirements should always be defined with the user in mind for the highest ROI.
“You have to understand the audience for the application and their perspectives,” Dillon said. “When day is done, if it doesn’t work for users, and they don’t adopt it, then you have failed.”