What Makes a Perfect Business Requirements Document?
By Michelle Symonds
A Business Requirements Document is an essential part of any major project. It is often written based on a company template especially in large corporations, which can vary from industry to industry, and which may have been in use for many years. But businesses change rapidly so the template you are using may not be perfect and if you work for a start up business then you may not even have a template to work from. So here are some top tips for what to include in a Business Requirements Document; getting the BRD right is a major factor in successful projects.
But just what makes a perfect business requirements document?
A BRD is a document that states, in detail, what the client wants; the main objectives of the project. Every BRD should include a number of fundamental sections, as detailed below, but many projects will also require additional sections depending on the type and complexity of the project.
- Business Objectives
A clear definition of what needs to be created, changed or improved; what problems need to be solved. Every other element of the document and, indeed, the whole project should refer back to the business objectives when making decisions on including or excluding certain features within the project.
When defining what is in-scope for a particular project it is essential to recognise what cannot be changed or improved by the project. Defining the scope provides realistic expectations for the stakeholders and avoids the situation where a single project is aiming to solve all problems for everyone.
Project Success Criteria
This is an agreed and approved list, prepared at the initiation stage of the project, stating all the tasks that need to be completed for the project to be deemed a success.
No project is without risks – some can be predicted and some may occur unexpectedly but, either way, it is important to recognise this so that a risk management process and contingency plans can be put in place.
It is essential that clients, other stakeholders, end users and anyone else affected by the project is helped to document their assumptions as thoroughly as possible. Unspoken assumptions can often be the cause of problems in projects so do a thorough analysis to make a complete list of all assumptions.
A definition of how quality of project deliverables is measured, controlled and implemented both on-going throughout the life of the project, at major milestones and, of course, at the final delivery stage.
Many projects, particularly those that are implementing new software or new business processes, will require some form of training for the end-users. There may also be new reporting functions to get to grips with.
Writing a good Business Requirements document is a step on the right road to project success; in very large organisations it may be the role of a Business Analyst to do this but in many smaller companies it will be the project manager’s responsibility. There are a number of useful techniques to help which are usually covered on project management courses.
Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.
There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.