When developing a web application or creating software that will fulfill your business’s needs, your software development team should understand the tasks that are required for the successful outcome. A product owner, project manager, business analyst, UI/UX designers, software developers, QA engineers – everybody has to know what they are doing and why. If you want to manage roles between team members the right way, careful planning of all operations is the key. Otherwise, miscommunication and misinterpretation of tasks may lead to scope creep. Avoiding these risks is especially relevant when your business is looking for a custom software development company that is able to offer you the required services.
In order to avoid possible issues and reach mutual understanding between teams, it is important not to forget about creating the Software Requirements Specification document, also known as SRS. It doesn’t matter if your company is still a startup or you need a web application for an enterprise, when your software development project doesn’t have at least any kind of a roadmap, there is a very small chance that it will work out. In software development, SRS is one of the most critical documents, so let’s take a closer look at it in detail in today’s article.
Importance of Creating SRS and the Elements It Includes
Software Requirement Specification is a technical document that contains the details about the capabilities, features, functions, design, and goals of the future software development solution. The whole development process for all members is based on this report. It can also be considered as a future checklist for the stage when the product is finished in order to ensure that every essential part was implemented.
Source: Web-Based Human Resource Management System
So, let’s say, you have an idea in mind to create an easy-to-use web-based human resource management system by using Node.js development services of an outsourcing company, because you don’t have developers with relevant skills in your in-house team. You are a product owner who wants to ensure that everything will go smooth like butter, but don’t know how to properly create an SRS. In this case, a Business Analyst can make it clear for you and show what should be included. Usually, the document contains the following elements:
- Overall information about the product and its description;
- Explanation of the idea and why your business needs this product;
- Functional and non-functional requirements, including any possible technical restrictions;
- Responsibilities of the development team, which is especially relevant if yours may be changed in the process;
- Assumptions and constraints about what is expected to happen during the project;
- Quality attributes of the product and acceptance criteria that should be met.
All in all, the SRS document is not needed for every member, but certain stakeholders will find it useful when planning their activities:
- Client and contractor
Both parties have to understand what is going to happen with the project and which requirements must be met, so both sides can agree on creating SRS in order to be on the same page.
If there are some, they will need to be able to evaluate the prospects of software to know which investments to make.
It is vital for both back-end and front-end developers to have this report, because they need to follow the development process based on the client’s needs.
- UI/UX Designers
It is a lot easier for UX/UI designers to create mockups when there is an SRS.
- QA Engineers
Software and QA testing services cannot be performed when there is no clear understanding on what a customer wants.
In order to ensure that all participants are informed about the further tasks, it is essential to prepare all the required reports, technical documentation, and so on. Thus, before development, a Request for Proposal can be made as well.
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How SRS Helps to Deal with Difficulties When Resuming a Project
Having software documentation, including all technical and written documentation related to a software product, allows a team to better understand its ins and outs. It matters both during the software development process and when you have to cancel the project and revive it later with other resources, goals, or even new employees. When everyone understands how not only to deal with the code but can also easily remember what the project was about, it means that you have a safer path with less failures.
Thus, the Software Requirements Specification document can also be of great help when the time has passed and you need to change something in your product. For example, you released your software years ago and want to get help from an outsourcing company. If you don’t have an SRS document with you, the team will need some time to know your product better and create such documentation to be able to comprehend the goals behind the implemented features. It is even possible to forget how some of the functions were intended to work, so the time may also be spent on figuring out what is a feature and what is a bug.
Another difficulty that arises when resuming a project is the need to reassess and realign priorities. Business needs and market conditions may have changed during the pause, requiring adjustments to the project’s scope and objectives. The SRS provides a clear roadmap of the original project goals, allowing stakeholders to evaluate and update them as necessary. This helps in ensuring that the project remains aligned with the organization’s current priorities and objectives.
The process may take both your and team’s time and resources that can be simply reduced by having ready-made SRS. In this case, you will be able to move faster between the stages of the software development life cycle. Besides that, having all the needed documentation reduces the risks of missing out the important details of a project or creating more issues.
Best Practices for Creating and Managing SRS
There is no one universal template that works for any case, and it all depends on what exactly both parties agreed on. It is basically impossible to compile the best document ever, because it can be suitable for one company but simply unreasonable for another. However, there are some practices, which can be useful for creating such a document and managing it successfully for the benefit of the team. Let’s take a closer look at some of the examples.
Avoid Ambiguous Wording
Any uncertainties used in the text or incorrect wording can cause confusion. It is important to compile SRS with clear statements and precise requirements. If something like “approximately 3 features should be included” or “it might be better to do this” is mentioned, you begin to wonder whether the compiler or the company even has a clear goal. Is one feature enough then, because it still fits the requirement? So, it might be better, but is it really necessary? To avoid any doubts, simply write “The software shall…” and state all the requirements clearly. It will be even more professional to review it and add corrections if needed before giving the document to everyone.
In order to have a clear understanding of all the activities, one should have a full picture. It means that all tasks need to be divided into sets with different priorities. If some of them have to be done earlier, the team should prioritize them first and know which activities can be postponed or done later. You can proceed with some tasks only after completing certain ones. It is vital to note down all these details and differences.
Don’t Forget About Flexibility
Despite all priorities and accuracy in wording, the project is not set in stone. Various situations and changes can happen in the process, so all stakeholders should be ready that there will be a time when several updates and modifications can be added in SRS. That is why requirements have to be flexible, but clear to understand why they are this way.
Save All Changes
Considering the possible modifications, there should be a history of updates so that all participants will be able to track changes. Which change was made and when, who made it and why – everything must be documented. Thus, it will be more convenient for team members to form their further actions.
Other practices include the mentioning of the portrait of the end user, glossary of all terms that may be unfamiliar for the participants, requirements traceability matrix, and other information that is critical for the development of your particular project.
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Writing SRS Using Free Template
If your Business Analyst doesn’t know where to start, it may be easier for them to refer to a template. It is a good reminder of which parts of the development process should be mentioned in the document. It may be even better to create such a template for your company so that it will be easier for your team in the future. It all depends on the project type and the requirements that you want to be met, but you can look at the example below in order to understand what to include.
In general, the document layout can be the following, but it can be easily changed according to your goals:
- Introduction (definitions and abbreviations, software purpose, target audience, project scope, suggestions, etc.)
- Product Overview (software description, product functions and characteristics, user characteristics and documentation, assumptions and dependencies, etc.)
- System Features (description and functional requirements of feature A, feature B, feature C, etc.)
- Specific Requirements (external interface requirements, performance requirements, functional requirements, design constraints, implementation constraints, etc.)
Software development is not an easy process that requires many procedures and operations to perform. One needs to decide on who will join the team, which technology stack will be used. Creating an SRS document is another task that may be required to do before starting anything. And, compiling one can make a huge difference in the workflow and make it easier to communicate with an outsourcing team.
If you want to augment the capacity of your team in order to have a dedicated development team with the skills you need, contact us, and we will be able to help!