It is obvious, that any product has to be provided with related documentation, explanations, etc. All these documents in software development are obligatory for the creators, not the users.
Actually, the SRS document in software engineering can be compared with the instruction, which is included in each Lego constructor kit. In fact, the only difference is that in this specific case, the end-user is the development team, as well as anyone else, who is somehow related to the product creation process.
So, if the end-user has previous experience in using such a product, or has no desire to examine these docs, they can be ignored. On the other hand, if there is something unclear or challenging, customers can simply find an explanation in the provided documentation or instructions.
But how all the foregoing is related to the Software Requirements Specification Documents? To answer this question, we have to define the term first.
The software Requirement Specification Document is a detailed explanation of the customer’s requirements. It consists of numerous aspects and can include an unlimited amount of content. Yet, it is possible to distinguish at least a few main topics, which are essential and must be present in each SRS Documentation. For instance, there are two must-have topics: functional and non-functional requirements. As a result, it is possible to clarify various aspects of the product, choose a better tech stack, understand the project scope, and better navigate through it.
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of the SRS document. In fact, it allows the embodying of the ideals of the client. The connection between the client and the developers is possible thanks to bipartition. In fact, both sides are responsible for each part of the document, i.e. the person, liable for the SRS document, will have to maintain communication and consult with both sides constantly.
For instance, the Non-functional requirements part is about general info and statistics. There, the client's requirements are explained in detail, and general information about the preferred statistics like performance, user experience, and others are defined. Also, here we can find all the related info about the software project itself, its targeted audience, product’s purposes, software use case examples, etc.
However, to be fair, such general non-technical aspects are usually defined and explained in the introduction section, instead of non-functional requirements. This simply makes it easier to navigate the document, by separating main data into standalone blocks. Still, the final choice is made by the design team and technical writers, who create the document.
At the same time, in the functional requirements section, the tech stack and required features or options are written down. The SRS document is written step-by-step. As a result, functional requirements are usually the last chapter. In most cases, it is impossible to make it first.
The main issue with this section lies in the fact, that to define the technologies, methods, software, and hardware to use in the software product, we need to know the general info like targeted aims, goals to accomplish, intended users, platforms, and other non-functional requirements. This allows us to analyze the client's requirements and available resources, compare them and as a result choose the most appropriate technologies.
So, first of all, we need to define the most general yet important aspects like the main idea of the product and the goals how to achieve it. This development stage also includes various additional software components like the targeted audience, working platforms, etc. In simple words, here we have to figure out the vision of customers, and how they imagine the final result. It can also include the designed usage intention and possible one, i.e. sometimes there may be an alternative way how to use the app and it would be great to predict it as well.
When we have a broad vision of the final product, its audience, and possible usage purposes, we can start specifying and breaking the idea into features. As a matter of fact, each further step will be deepening the previous one.
For instance, the planning chapter must generally explain the goals of the project, the scope of work, and possible benefits and risks, that may occur, and define the audience's expectations and requirements, project budget, etc. To make it simple, the planning chapter is a written down version of the project’s conception, which helps clarify the project's overall idea and all the possible dependencies that may affect the development itself.
Nonetheless, do not forget that SRS documentation is created not only for the development cycle. Usually, it is kept as a document, which can be used to check the progress and main ideas of the product, and better understand the original concept. Also, in case the development or support team changes, the SRS document will be ideal for explaining the main objectives and principles of the project to newcomers.
After the planning stage, when all the general info is clarified and ready, we can proceed to the functional and non-functional requirements specification.
We propose you start with non-functional requirements first, thus to be able to understand the main statistical demands like the loading time, preferable performance requirements, etc. This will give you the ability to better choose the needed tech stack, which will be able to fulfill the needs. Do not forget to take into account the planning stage as well.
Non-functional requirements usually consist of various statistics, diagrams, and simple tasks or goals to achieve. For example, the application must load in less than 3 seconds - this is a non-functional requirement. It has no actual function, or a single process, responsible for its accomplishing. Instead, it depends on a complex of various features and processes, technologies used, etc. The same is true for User Experience and User Interfaces.
Summing up, non-functional requirements are the ones, which are dependent on numerous processes or other variables. Also, these requirements are subjective features and results, which are hard to precisely define. For instance, how user-friendly the product or its interfaces are.
Functional requirements, on the contrary, are something, which can be clarified and is standalone. Strictly speaking, these are technologies, used for the project. It can be both software and hardware, programming languages, libraries, frameworks, databases, etc. To put it in a nutshell, these are mainly technical instruments, used to develop the product.
Additionally, if you have something else to say, any alternative proposals, or ideas, or simply want to write down some changes or make notes, you can create a supplements chapter or add them as optional standalone files, linked to the main SRS document. This can additionally simplify various working processes, and help to easier navigate the documents in software development.
Eventually, when it comes to creating an SRS document, it is possible to do so in various ways. The old-school approach is to write an SRS document in Microsoft Word or any other text redactor. On the one hand, it is easier and does not require any third-party software applications or licensing. Instead, this makes the documentation available for everyone, meaning that it is possible to easily open such types of files on almost any device.
However, in this case, it is very hard to actually track and note any changes and progress. Thus, such an SRS document becomes a detailed instruction on the product, not a tool for project management and progress tracking.
Therefore, to make it a full-fledged tool, SRS documents are regularly created with the use of specified product management systems, or requirement management tools. Usually, such systems propose ready-made templates for SRS documents, as well as various useful features like checklists. This helps to better track the goals and their status.
Finally, if you have consulted all sides, related to the product development process, written down their thoughts and pieces of advice, and believe, that your SRS document is ready - you have to gain approval.
In fact, this process is simply a consideration of the final draft of the SRS document, before accepting it as a real plan of action. Yet, except for developers and customers, this documentation may be viewed by stakeholders or other possible participants, which depends on the agreements and corporal policies, i.e. it depends on the context each time. So, when everyone agrees on the SRS document, it gains approval and becomes a kind of instruction on how to develop the app or which instruments to use.
Obviously, it is essential to have such documentation underhand and it is impossible to imagine any successful project without such documents in software development. In reality, even small features or add-ons, developed by third-party developers like freelancers, must be included in the SRS document. To make it simple, it is a ready project classification, which exists on paper and is crucial for further processes, their estimation, etc.
Here, in Incora, we highly appreciate this stage and do our best to correctly plan and estimate each project, and count in all the related aspects and regarding the context. Therefore, if you have any additional questions, or want to discuss some ideas - we are always glad to help you.
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