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26
May

How to Write a Business Requirements Document

What is a business requirements document?

Though it may sound rigid, the business requirements document is not a simple checklist for the completion of a project. The document should determine everything a business should do for successful completion, but should not focus on the function of the business or detailed project steps.

Rather, the business requirements document must define aspects of the project and state how milestones, goals, and project completion related to the project’s purpose. It should specify what responsibilities the business has for the project.

What is included in a business requirements document?

  1. The introduction
  2. The executive summary
  3. A project overview that includes objectives and vision
  4. Success factors like project milestones and phases of project construction
  5. Scope of responsibilities for each party involved
  6. Stakeholder identification
  7. Business requirements
  8. Project schedule
  9. Project constraints
  10. Conclusion

In most cases, the project proposal will form the basis for all legal contracts associated with the project. The document therefore must be as objective as possible and crystal clear.

In action, the processes taken to successfully conclude each phase of the project are not as important as the stated goals and milestones for the project. The business requirements document does not need to describe the business processes necessary for the successful completion of the project phases; it does need to describe what these phases are, and what must be done in order for the individual phases to be considered complete and successful.

1.The introduction

The introduction of a business requirements document should start with a summary of the project and the desired outcome. It should be brief, including any benefits and who those project beneficiaries are.

The introduction should introduce the business, and explain briefly the business experience and any key personnel that bring specialized expertise to the project. There is no need to get into a long and drawn-out explanation, but merely an introduction to the facts that will be introduced within the documentation.

2.The executive summary

The executive summary is generally included just after the introduction and the table of contents but should be the last thing written. The executive summary tells the reader what is going to be explained in the document.

This is the first in three very general steps for writers in professional business documentation: first, tell the reader what you are going to tell them. Second, tell the reader what you have to say. And finally, tell the reader what you have told them in a concise conclusion.

3.Project overview

The project overview is sometimes called the project scope. Start with the project expectations and conclude with the stated goals for the completed project. The project overview is not meant to be a comprehensive examination of the project, but should highlight the purpose and expectations of the project developers.

4.Success factors

Large scale project proposals will need to introduce phases of the project in order to keep the project on schedule — and on budget. Each phase of the project needs to be addressed, including a timeline for the successful completion of each phase. The success factors should also clearly define each phase of the project.

This portion of the business requirements document is especially important for budgeting and draw-down schedules that are required for funding to be released. The individual terms of the project proposal should be clearly defined in the RFP, though the verbiage used in such documentation may at times be confusing, even for experienced proposal writers.

5.Scope of Responsibilities

The scope of responsibilities must clearly define the parties responsible for every aspect of the project proposal. In the event that there are delays or overspending, the responsible party may be held legally accountable for the additional costs.

If there are no clear indicators of the scope of responsibilities for all of the necessary parties, the wrong party may end up losing more than just money and reputation. If the project is delayed because of licensing requirements, there may be nobody held to account since these are regulated by law and subject to change.

If a physical construction is delayed because of a third party such as an excavation company, an electrician, or some other third-party service provider, the scope of responsibilities will prevent your company from being held to account.

6.Stakeholder identification

The stakeholder identification serves in much the same capacity as the scope of responsibilities; the management and other key personnel who are directly responsible and accountable will be included in this section. The stakeholder identification section can also highlight individual areas of expertise and justification for the selection of key personnel. The definitive responsibilities and the overall accountability of these individuals should also be included in this section.

7.Business requirements

The business requirements section should include a breakdown of the objectives and expectations of the company. In addition to this, there should be a concise but complete breakdown of resources and other requirements the business has for successfully concluding the project.

While this section may be lengthy, it is necessary to establish the business as capable of completing the project on time and on budget. It also helps clarify the scope of responsibilities for the business and ensure that the business is not held accountable for the actions or inaction of others.

8.Project schedule

Project Scheduling should clearly define the projected dates for the completion of each phase of the project. It should also include the expected date for the overall completion of the project. There will be some overlap in many industries, and depending on the project at hand, and these should be spelled out to the extent that is possible as well.

9.Project constraints

Is all of the requisite licensing going to be easily obtained? What will happen if licensing is not issued in a timely manner? This section of the document should project the potential delays or other constraints.

Conclusion

The conclusion is the end portion of the document and where you should write a short, concise explanation of what you have explained to the reader within the document.

Success

After following these steps, you’ll know the project inside and out — and you’ll be able to execute the business requirements document seamlessly.

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