How to Write a Business Requirements Document
A Business Requirements Document (BRD) is a formal contract between the organization and the customer for a product. By describing in full detail all the processes that should be implemented, a BRD is used through the entire cycle of the project to ensure that the product meets the detailed specifications and that the project gains value and achieves the desired results. If it is prepared for a technical product, the BRD also includes technical specifications.
Objectives of a Business Requirements Document
A Business Requirements Document includes explicit specifications of how a system should perform and how much it should cost depending on what it is expected to achieve. The main goal is to deliver quality by taking into consideration the inputs and outputs of each project phase, the functional and non-functional system specifications as well as any possible upgrade that can assist the project manager to achieve the desired objective.
A BRD makes a clear distinction between the business objective and the technical objective. The business objective answers the question "Where does the organization want to be?" meaning "What is the organization's mission?" The technical objective focuses on the provision of a solid basis on which the business objective can be met. In this context, the most common objectives of a BRD can be summarized as follows:
- To be universally accepted by the stakeholders
- To provide an appropriate solution to meet the customer/business needs.
- To provide a detailed description of which customer/business needs will be met by the selected solution.
- To provide input between the phases of the project.
Key Elements of a Business Requirements Document
The author of a Business Requirements Document - a business analyst or a project manager - should have a thorough understanding of the business processes and the key objectives of the project to ensure proper implementation of different requirements and different elements within the requirements.
The most important element of a BRD is the scope of the project, which includes any restrictions and constraints that need to be considered during the development process. The scope is a functional requirement that basically answers three questions:
- What is the problem that the organization needs to solve?
- What are the restrictions that need to be considered?
- Is the time and money invested in solving the problem worthwhile?
Besides the scope, the key elements of a Business Requirements Document cover a wide, yet not exhaustive area of project management documentation, as follows:
- Business Problem Statement
- Current Business Process
- Scope Statement
- Key Business Objectives
- Project Completion Criteria
- Risks & Limitations
- Functional & Non-Functional Requirements
- Cost and scheduling parameters
- New/Modified Business Process
- Stakeholder List
- Quality Measures
- Checklists (Process and Requirements)
Each and every requirement should be clearly described to ensure proper implementation of each process and smooth transition from one phase to another.
How to Write a Business Requirements Document
The first step is to collect information through brainstorming and interviews with various sources, including developers, customers, engineers and end-users. The collected information should be documented in a clear and concise way, familiar to the business user, to ensure successful product development and high-quality end-product. Documenting the information enables the author of the document to identify any conflicting steps early in the lifecycle of the project.
The second step is to describe the key attributes of the product to provide a thorough idea of how the end-product should be to meet the customer needs.
The third step is to clearly state the scope of the project, in order to avoid poor management and to provide guidance to the developers to meet the key objectives.
The fourth step is to identify the phases of the project. By ensuring that the key objectives and goals can be met and that the scope of the project is accurately reflected, the project manager to reach a formal agreement with the stakeholders.
The fifth step is the proper evaluation of the project with the use of a detailed process map. All the phases of the project are described, including the start and end points of each phase, any changes required in specific areas, the cycle-time and capacity of each step of the process as well as each Critical-to-Quality (CTQ) step. The goal in this stage is the identification of any necessary changes to meet the key objectives.
The sixth step is to include an impact assessment diagram to identify the possible impact on the processes, the technology used, the people involved, the product, or even the facilities and the machinery and equipment of the organization.
A Business Requirements Document includes all the planning strategies to ensure a formal contract that involves understandable project phases. A well-structured BRD improves collaboration between large-functional teams and creates a positive consensus. It also implements business strategies with the aim of transitioning from one stage to another in a controlled way so that stakeholders are satisfied and their needs are met. Finally, high quality requirements ensure a project success and can lower the costs of the project.
For more information see this power point presentation (note: this is a downloadable file).