Documenting Software Requirements: How to Do It Right?

Oleksandr Yeremenko

Oleksandr Yeremenko

Business/System Analyst at Andersen

Business Analysis
Jul 18, 2022
9 minutes to read
views
  1. Why do the majority of projects fail?
  2. The importance of documenting requirements
  3. Three reasons why you should document the requirements
  4. Better project traceability
  5. Efficient troubleshooting
  6. Consistency of requirements
  7. What artifacts in software engineering are and how they help you reduce project costs
  8. Meeting agenda
  9. A follow-up email
  10. Vision & Scope document
  11. Software Requirements Specification
  12. User stories, user story maps, and use cases
  13. Andersen’s approach to documenting requirements
  14. Bottom line

Global digitalization is leading to a drastic increase in the number of software companies offering their services. However, statistically, 17% of IT projects fail, which leads to irreparable consequences for businesses, 7% of projects exceed their deadlines, and nearly half of them overrun their budget.

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Analyzing business requirements increases the chances of finishing the project on time by 75% and allows business owners to save up to half of the project’s budget. In this article, Andersen’s experts will share why properly performed business analysis is important through the lens of artifacts in software development delivered by professional Business Analysts. Read on to learn how well-designed business analysis documentation can save your project and become an integral part of its success.

Why do the majority of projects fail?

There is a prevalent misconception among customers and shareholders from the business side that substantially prevents their product from achieving its goals and metrics. The conviction we are talking about is harmful to all the project participants as it leads to missed deadlines, overbudgeting, and a discrepancy between customer expectations and the developed product. In addition, the development team might despair as they have spent time in vain and now must rework the solution that has been already delivered.

The aforementioned delusion rests on the customer’s conviction that the project team can operate efficiently without having proper business analysis documentation. Customers believe that the success of their projects is achievable solely by the efforts of Project Managers and developers, overestimating their abilities to organize and manage the development process.

As a consequence, although your project might succeed without a dedicated Business Analyst in your team, it will definitely fail if nobody carries out their functions and works on the Business Analyst’s documents.

The importance of documenting requirements

Documentation management is one of the most important responsibilities of a Business Analyst. And for a good reason, as properly defined and well-documented requirements are crucial factors for achieving success.

According to research conducted by Meta Group, from 60% to 80% of projects’ failures can be attributed directly to poor requirements elicitation, management, and documentation. The findings provided by Carnegie Mellon University show that from 25% to 40% of all spending on projects is wasted as reworking is required, which is an expected consequence of neglecting the documents prepared by a Business Analyst.

Based on Andersen’s experience, we can state that proper business analysis documentation drawn up in the course of a Discovery phase increases customer satisfaction rates by providing them with software that meets all their needs while increasing user satisfaction rate by 75%.

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Therefore, it is clear that a project without a specialist responsible for documenting requirements is doomed to fail.

Three reasons why you should document the requirements

Below are the most important reasons why analyzing business requirements and carefully documenting them during Project Discovery is crucial for a project.

Better project traceability

Thanks to the documents created by a Business Analyst, the team and stakeholders are on the same page regarding the developmental and testing processes. Everybody who is involved in the project knows exactly what needs to be done and what the project goals, scope, challenges, functional and non-functional requirements, and budget are.

The information both on specific tasks and on the general direction of work is always available. This allows the customer to stay up to date with the development process and even direct it. More importantly, structuring the requirements and storing them in one place make the project’s details clear to stakeholders, and therefore, the resulting product will meet their expectations to the fullest extent.

Efficient troubleshooting

Scope creep refers to the expansion of a project’s functionality that is beyond control. As a result, the development can substantially exceed the planned budget and timelines. This issue arises when the customers come up with many different ideas that haven’t been analyzed and prioritized by a dedicated specialist. This issue is found in about half of all projects, which means that only half of them are implemented on budget and within the timelines.

Meanwhile, carefully prepared business analysis documentation guarantees that, if your large-scale project expands, that can be easily controlled, and the developmental process won’t turn into a disaster due to multiple changes and gold plating.

Consistency of requirements