What are the Functional Requirements? Functional Requirements are a specification of what should be implemented.
Functional requirements are usually expressed in the form of sentences that use the word “should.” For example, a Functional Requirement may look like this: “The mobile application should offer the ability to create a user account.”
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Functional requirements describe how software (e.g., mobile or web application) should behave. They also define the properties or attributes of a given system.
We should also not forget about another function, the role of Functional Requirements, which is that they serve to impose constraints on the system development process.
In other words, Functional Requirements define the actions the application will perform in certain situations.
What are the functionalities of a digital product?
Functionality is one or more software capabilities that are meaningful to the user. For example, the bank's mobile app functionality is the ability to make a transfer or check an account balance.
It is also worth remembering that a single, from the user's point of view, functionality can be a set of Functional Requirements. It can translate into several functionalities in the system that allow a given task to be performed.
At the same time, the lists of functionalities of each stakeholder do not necessarily coincide, which is why the various expectations should be confronted with each other and coordinated by the business analyst.
The role of the business analyst is to comprehensively compile the various requirements into a Software Requirements Specification (SRS).
In turn, the role of the SRS is to unambiguously and comprehensively describe the behavior of a system. In addition, the specification is also very useful when testing and evaluating the quality of the created digital products.
What problems does the lack of Functional Requirements create?
According to many authors (and such estimates dominate the literature on the subject), up to 50% of all mistakes that occur during software development have their origin in the lack of requirements. Functional Requirements allow this value to be significantly reduced.
Their quality is also problematic. The significant inaccuracies, lack of specificity, and unreliability present in them have an equally severe and negative impact on the quality of future software.
The way the requirements of a future web or mobile application are communicated dictates how the requirements are understood, defined, and in the end, implemented.
Incomplete, unclear information provided to each other by stakeholders and gaps in the specification and management of Functional Requirements have a very significant impact on the workflow and its outcome.
Functional Requirements of the application mainly depend on communication, mutual understanding, agreement, and balancing different goals, interests, and expectations of different stakeholders.
Stakeholders are simultaneously the company's customers, application users, application owners, business analysts, developers, and designers.
And this means that we are dealing with a mixture of diverse, often contradictory:
- needs and expectations
- languages, ways of definition, and understanding
- objectives and ways to achieve them
- communication styles.
With such a diverse mix, it is very easy to have misunderstandings, disagreements, and frictions.
Hence, it is very important that overlapping or conflicting interests are adequately communicated, analyzed, considered, prioritized, or, generally speaking, managed.
Functional Requirements of a web application are helpful from a development point of view, but also help to manage the project. Hence, it is necessary to develop and consistently apply methods that allow you to create products efficiently and as error-free as possible.
A very significant issue is the time dimension of Functional Requirements.
It is worth remembering and specifying whether the functionality will be implemented in the present or the future (preferably precisely defined).
The time gap separating the present from the future (the planned application development) also introduces the need to rank and prioritize a given functionality.
High priority should be assigned to functionalities that are to be implemented in the near future, and low, to solutions whose implementation is not yet clearly decided.
What are the types of requirements for application development?
Usually, the requirements that are collected in the process of software development can be divided into three types:
- business requirements
- functional requirements
- user requirements.
Each of the above types is accompanied by several Non-Functional Requirements, which most often relate to the quality of future software.
Business functional requirements, as the name suggests, refer to requirements formulated by business owners who create a digital product to achieve specific goals and business results.
User requirements specify the tasks and goals that users of the application will be able to perform and achieve with its help. They also indicate the expected and desired attributes of the application.
Proper coordination, orchestration, and harmonization of all three types of requirements are essential, as it increases the probability of delivering a project on time and without problems. At the same time, it minimizes the risk of failure.
How are the Functional Requirements of a web or a mobile application created?
Functional Requirements do not necessarily have to be collected in a separate document printed on paper.
Nor do they necessarily have to take digital format in the form of files and folders.
It is useful to think of Functional Requirements as a kind of container. The metaphor of a container captures well the nature of Functional Requirements, which can take very different forms – both material and intangible.
They can be a sentence, a chart, a set of data in a spreadsheet, a database, or any other type of information available through various media.
In the process of creating requirements, it is very important to identify, collect, analyze, evaluate, document, and confirm them.
Analysis, validation, and iteration of Functional Requirements
The purpose of the Functional Requirements analysis is primarily the need to understand and define the requirements placed on the software by the various stakeholders.
It is worth remembering that Functional Requirements are not autonomous and are interdependent with quality expectations, goals, and business rules.
In addition, as a result of analyzing Functional Requirements, we should rank individual functionalities, determine their importance, and link them to specific software elements.
Requirements validation aims to verify that the collected requirements are complete and free of errors.
It should also provide an answer to whether the collected information allows you to start working and create a digital product that can achieve your business goals and align with the expectations of its users.
To obtain the fullest, most useful Functional Requirements is to iterate them, that is, to undertake a regular, cyclically repeated process of collecting, analyzing, and validating them.
An iterative approach to Functional Requirements allows you to understand them more thoroughly and accurately. It also helps to clarify, concretize and confirm the requirements successively.
How to manage Functional Requirements?
Functional Requirements can also be viewed as a process.
From this perspective, it is possible to manage them, and this is particularly true for:
- defining a Functional Requirements database
- assessing the impact of changes
- maintaining consistency between the stages of the project and individual requirements
- defining the dependencies and conditions occurring between individual requirements (also between Functional and Non-Functional Requirements)
- establishing tasks.
Generally speaking, the goal of requirements management (especially Functional Requirements) is to predict the impact that will result from the introduction of given changes.
Of course, it is also about improving communication, and the flow of work and tasks.
Advantages of creating Functional Requirements
Although creating Functional Requirements is a time-consuming and work-intensive task, it is also definitely an activity worth doing. Not only for the sake of minimizing the risk of errors.
Creation of Functional Requirements:
- reduces the cost of creating a digital product
- allows you to obtain a Single Source of Truth
- allows you to reduce the number of stakeholder meetings
- rationalizes the work and allows you to give it a time frame, also in terms of roles, competencies, and responsibilities
- reduces the number of revisions
- allows you to manage time and deadlines better
- reduces the number of unnecessary or unused functionalities
- reduces the cost of digital product development
- reduces the number of errors that occur during communication
- allows you to control the chaos and organize the course of the project
- improves work atmosphere and increases stakeholder satisfaction
- last but not least, it allows you to create digital products according to expectations.