Any application starts with an idea, and mobile app development begins with a Software Requirements Specification – SRS document. You might have a truly brilliant and unique digital product idea, but the journey to the implementation phase ultimately defines whether your application will succeed or fail. The SRS document is a vital part of this journey.
Approaching development without documentation and a clear plan leads to a chaotic implementation process, costly reworks, delays, or even a failed project. In fact, inadequate or incomplete requirements are the most common reason for project failure and a cause of nearly 50% of product defects. However, the good news is you can avoid all these issues and lay the groundwork for a successful outcome by creating accurate and understandable SRS documentation.
In this guide, we explore the essentials of this document, why it’s a cornerstone for any software project, and what makes up an effective SRS in software engineering. Moreover, we’ll share our expertise on how to write your SRS to make it a practical guide for stakeholders and all participants involved in the project development.
Table of Contents
Let’s start with the SRS meaning. Software requirements specification is a technical document describing your project’s functionality, features, design, limitations, and goals. Simply put, an SRS outlines how an application should operate and how the product development team should build it. While you as a client may use it to define your project expectations and deliverables, your development company will use it to assess the amount of work, define the technology stack, and estimate the project cost.
The main goal of the this report is to clarify all potentially vague aspects of development and communicate to the team:
Just as a statement of work (SOW), this document is crucial, especially when you outsource software development. An SRS document serves as a project roadmap for you and your dedicated team, leaving little room for confusion and misunderstandings. As a single source of truth that everyone can refer to, the requirement document sheds light on product specifications and deadlines, ensuring a shared understanding and alignment.
Moreover, it’s next to impossible to develop an app exactly what you expect without an SRS. Think we’re exaggerating? Now consider how software engineers will know which features to build, UX designers match the design to use cases, and QA specialists test the app. That’s why writing down clear software requirements guarantees your development team will build the product matching your needs. What’s more, an SRS is helpful for:
|Stakeholders||to understand what is going to happen with a project and which requirements must be met|
|Investors, if there are any||to evaluate the prospects of tool to make an informed decision|
|Software engineers||to define the programming languages and plan their work|
|Designers||to create mockups based on requirements and use cases|
|QA specialists||to evaluate the prospects of tools to make an informed decision|
Software requirements specification is a blueprint for the development team, providing all the information they need to build the tool according to your requirements. But it also should outline your product’s purpose, describing what the application is supposed to do and how it should perform.
An SRS can vary in format and length depending on how complex the project is and the selected development methodology. However, there are essential elements every good SRS document must contain:
To understand the difference, think of it this way: functional requirements are like the meat and potatoes of a meal, while non-functional are like the seasoning.
Functional requirements document is essential to the system’s core function, describing the features and fundamental behavior, just as meat and potatoes are the core elements of a meal. Without them, the system won’t work as intended, just as a meal won’t be satisfying without the main course. For example, when you register and sign in to a system, it sends you a welcome email.
On the other hand, non-functional requirements enhance the user experience and make the system more delightful to use, just as the seasoning makes a meal more enjoyable to eat. They specify the general characteristics impacting user experience.
Coming back to an example of the registration confirmation, a welcome email sent within five seconds after signing in would be a non-functional requirement.
So while functional requirements are crucial to the system’s operation, non-functional are equally important to the user’s needs and expectations. A system that is slow, unreliable, or difficult to use will significantly impact the user’s decision to use it.
|Functional requirements||Non-functional requirements|
|Outline the functions the app will have||Outline how the app will perform|
|Identify the app’s core features||Identify the way the app should behave|
|Explain what the app must do||Explain how the app should do it|
|Ensure the app meets user needs||Ensure the app meets user expectations|
The creation of an SRS should be one of the first things to do when you plan to develop a new project. Writing it may seem daunting, but it’s essential to building successful tool. The more elaborate and detailed your SRS is, the fewer chances for the development team to take the wrong turns.
To make the process of writing an SRS more efficient and manageable, we recommend you follow a structure that starts with a skeleton and general info on the project. Then it will be easier for you to flesh out the details to create a comprehensive draft. Here’s a six-step guide to creating an SRS document:
The first step is to create an outline that will act as a framework for the document and your guide through the writing process. You can either create your outline or use an SRS document template as a basis. Anyway, the outline should contain the following important elements:
In fact, this section is a summary of the SRS document. It allows you to write a clear picture of what you want your product to do and how you want it to function. So, here you should include a detailed description of the intended users, how they will interact with the product, and the value your product will deliver. Answering the following question will help you to write the purpose:
Here’s the section where you clarify your idea and explain why it can be appealing to users. Describe all features and functions and define how they will fit the user’s needs. Also, mention whether the product is new or a replacement for the old one, is it a stand-alone app or an add-on to an existing system? Additionally, you can highlight any assumptions about the product’s functionality.
Often, clients don’t have a clear idea about the intended functionality at the start of the project. In this case, Relevant cooperates closely with you to understand the demands and assigns business analysts to assist with it.
Whether you write it internally or with the help of external experts, you should detail all the requirements associated with your app. For your dedicated development team to understand it properly, describe this information adequately. It would help them if you include use cases here as well since they can vividly illustrate how a user will interact with your system.
If you have something else to add, any alternative ideas or proposals, references, or any other additional information that could help developers finish the job, write them down here.
Now it’s time to have stakeholders review the SRS report carefully and leave comments or additions if there are any. After edits, give them to read the document again, and if everything is correct from their perspective, they’ll approve it and accept it as a plan of action. After that, you’re ready to move toward app or web development.
Use cases help you ensure that the users have a smooth and robust experience using your product. To write use cases, you should put yourself in the shoes of your intended audience and get a better understanding of how they will interact with your program. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify potential issues early on and ensure your product meets the users’ expectations and needs.
To begin, describe your product’s targeted users. Who are they, and what tasks will they need to perform with your software? Then, focus on one of these users and break down their interaction into use cases. Each use case will represent a specific interaction the user has with your solution.
Now depict the sequence of events that will take place for each use case. This will let you map out the user’s actions and how your software should respond. Then expand each use case with alternative actions and probable system responses to ensure that you’ve covered all possible scenarios.
Finally, repeat these steps for each user type. Thus, you’ll create a comprehensive set of software use cases that accurately represent how your application will be actually used. By following these steps, you’ll create software that truly delights your users.
We provide some features of a good quality SRS so you can ensure your technical requirements document is good enough to serve as a guide for yourprofessional development team.
An SRS requires clear and easy-to-read content using agreed terminology so that all members of the product development process can easily understand it. Very handy are visuals like diagrams, models, or schemes as they can explain some points straight away.
Unless the software requirements are measurable, it will be hard to know whether you are going in the right direction and whether the team is completing the milestones. Project managers have to understand how to assess the project progress and validate and verify the end product against the specifications. So, make your requirements measurable.
The SRS document must contain all the features you want to build with enough detail for your development team to complete the project: software requirements, assumptions, dependencies, and prerequisites. The stakeholders should check whether every part of it is described or if any details are missing.
When writing the specifications, you should take into account the budget, timeframe, and tech realities of the current environment.
Note that an SRS is a living document that may be updated and refined throughout the development process, so it’s important to keep it flexible and adjustable.
It’s also vital to make the document available to all development team members so they can refer to it whenever necessary. The indicator of clear requirements would be no questions for clarification or demands for more details from the team.
The software requirements in the document shouldn’t contradict each other. Also, the format of the whole SRS should be consistent, and ensure you use the same terminology throughout the paper.
Although the software requirements specification requires detailed information, we don’t recommend you make it overly specific, impose technological or architectural solutions, or specify a design methodology, as it may restrict development.
SRS documentation should accurately depict the product’s functionality, specifications, and instructions so that the team members have no additional questions while using it. So, make sure every requirement has only one possible interpretation by avoiding subjective suggestions, ambiguity, and loopholes.
By adhering to these characteristics, you can create an SRS document that meets the needs of all stakeholders and provides a comprehensive and clear plan of action for your development team.
Below, we provide a condensed SRS document example for a mobile shopping app, “FashionStyle”.
This document outlines the development plan for “FashionStyle”, a mobile app that will allow users to browse and purchase clothes from different brands. This plan is intended for software engineers, designers, and investors of the project.
In the age of e-commerce, users are constantly seeking convenient ways to shop. However, with so many brands and products available online, it can be overwhelming for customers to find what they want. “FashionStyle” aims to solve this problem by offering a platform where consumers can easily find and buy fashion items from a variety of brands.
The target customers are primarily fashion-conscious individuals who prefer to shop online. They are likely to be tech-savvy and comfortable using mobile apps to make purchases.
The app will be built using React Native, a cross-platform framework that will allow for both IOS and Android app development. The app will connect to a REST API created with Node.js and MongoDB to store and retrieve information.
The development team for “FashionStyle” will be responsible for programming the app, designing the user interface, and testing the app for quality assurance.
There will be two types of users for “FashionStyle”: customers and admins. Customers will be able to use all the app’s features, while admins will have access to additional features such as managing product listings and discounts.
Availability: The app should have a goal of 99.9% availability to ensure customers can shop anytime.
Correctness: The app should accurately display product information and ensure secure transactions.
Maintainability: The app should be continuously integrated so that features, updates, and bug fixes can be deployed rapidly without downtime.
Usability: The interface should be intuitive and easy to navigate, allowing users to shop and make purchases without confusion.
Don’t let your software requirements specification become a confusing mess! While there is no right way to write the requirement document, we will highlight the most common mistakes to avoid to help you ensure that your requirements are crystal clear.
First, be careful not to be ambiguous in your language. Remember, the software requirements specification aims to prevent misunderstandings, so ensure they can’t be misinterpreted. Provide a clear description for every functionality, and avoid using words with multiple meanings.
Second, avoid overcomplicating your document. Standardizing the language of your document is not that big of a deal. Simply avoid using jargon and define terms before using them. Also, it would help to use references, such as “as shown in” or “in accordance with”.
Third, don’t over-specify your requirements. The document is not intended to become a complete description of the system for developers and architects. Stick to the essentials and avoid providing too many extra details. This can make the document less readable and vaguer.
Finally, if you struggle with structure and formatting, use a software requirements specification example to achieve clarity. If you’re unsure how to handle parts of the software requirements specification template, contact Relevant. We’ll help you write a comprehensive specification document for your project and ensure your requirements are communicated effectively. Don’t let a poorly written specification document derail your project – take the time or assistance to get it right the first time.
The success of any software project relies heavily on the availability of a well-written Software Requirements Specification document. It’s a critical component that serves as a roadmap for developers and stakeholders, outlining what the software should do, its technical details, and user needs.
Although creating a comprehensive SRS takes time and effort initially, it will pay off later with a robust app that meets both your and your users’ expectations. Moreover, following our expert tips, you can create an effective and detailed specification document.
At Relevant, we recognize the importance of SRS in software engineering and have helped over 200 companies build successful products with the help of software requirements specification. We can draft your requirement document either as a part of a full-cycle project or as a part of a stand-alone discovery phase. We’ll help you get high-quality SRS and stay relevant with the best development practices.