A Requirements Analysis Document is an integral part of any IT project. It’s an important deliverable as part of the requirements analysis phase, and is among the first to define what the IT project is really about. Let’s examine tips on how to write an awesome Requirements Analysis Document for your project.

What Is A Requirements Analysis Document Used For?

The Requirements Analysis Document, also called a RAD, isn't just another document you should write to get the project done. It really serves a significant purpose. It’s used to define just what the project is for and what has to be done for so that it is successful. Depending on the organisation you’re at, the RAD may be known as a Requirements Definition Document (RDD), Business Requirements Document (BRD), or something else.

It’s used to document the requirements of a system. This may be a software system, hardware system, or another business system. It is commonly used on software systems. It consists of sections on:

Project summary
Functional requirements
Non-functional requirements

So, if you need to write one for your project, you could follow these tips to make sure your document is beneficial and is of top quality.

Tip 1 - Use A Template

The document you’ve been required to write is almost definitely not the first of its kind that has been written. Your organisation has most likely written these before. Other teams, or even your own team, might have written them. A great way of getting a top quality document and to be more efficient is to utilise some of the work which was done previously, by using a template.

A template is basically a plan of the document that must be written. It should include the cover page, headings for every section, and even perhaps a description of what goes in each section. This may have been designed by another project team, or another area of the business, and would form part of the company’s overall standards process.

This is good news for you - it will help you write the document and ensure it is effective. It will also make your document look more professional, as there is a typical format to adhere to. It will also offer you an indication on the parts to provide. This has been important for me over the years - as a consultant I’ve visited various organizations, all with different templates, and the templates have really helped in finding out what has to be included.

Tip 2 - Write With A Business User In Mind

This could seem like an obvious tip, however when you write the Requirements Analysis Document, attempt to write it with the business users in mind. It can be tempting, particularly from a technical background, to go into a lot of technical detail and include a great deal of IT lingo in the document. Try to stay away from doing this.

The objective of the document is to provide an introduction to the project and to specify the requirements which have been included and excluded in the project. If you write with the users in mind, it will frame it in ways they can understand and that they are comfortable with. This comes with experience with being a business analyst, or technical writer, or whichever role it is that produces the document in your team.

Tip 3 - Use The Word “Shall”

Among the most important words you can know when producing a Requirements Analysis Document is the word “shall”. It’s a rather appropriate word for specifying the exact requirements - whether functional or non-functional. The reason for this is that it is more certain than other words such as “will”, “would”, “should”, or “can”. Unless your business has a format of writing requirements, I recommend using the word “shall” when determining them.

For instance, “The system shall allow a user to save their current session in the system” is an effective functional requirement - it’s definite, as it has the word shall in it, and it is specific in what needs to be done. It’s also a word that the readers can comprehend.

Tip 4 - Proof Read The Document

Something you should be doing before handing the document over to the users to look at is proof reading it. Have a final review prior to finishing it - you might even find something you didn’t notice when creating the document. Some areas to check are:

Spelling and grammar check - This is build into most word processors already, but it’s not 100% dependable - specifically if you make a typo and the word displayed is spelt correctly. It’s something you need to also check by hand, and this can be completed by giving it a proof read.
Diagrams - If any diagrams are included (see the below section), then they ought to be reviewed for accuracy. Diagrams can change throughout the creation of the document, which means you must make sure you have the latest version in the document.
Document formatting - the formatting of the document is a frequently overlooked area. It sticks out when the document has bad or inconsistent formatting. The document ought to be neat, formatted well and consistent. It can add a sense of confidence to the document and to your team. It also looks professional.
Names of people and systems - Usually, for Requirements Analysis Documents, you need to include peoples’ names in an Author or even a Project Responsibilities section. You need to check these names to make sure they are correct. The spell checker will likely not pick them up, but as long as they are correct, then the document will be OK.

Tip 5 - Include Diagrams

A great way of outlining a concept or process is to utilize a diagram. They are helpful for explaining current systems, proposed systems, organisation structures, screen layouts, data and process flows, and plenty of other things. They should be included in a Requirements Analysis Document to explain your concepts and in the sections that will reap the benefits of them. It also breaks up the document and makes it easier to read.

Lots of people are visual people - they can absorb things easier if it’s in a diagram form, rather than explained in text. So, make sure you have included diagrams in any areas that are tricky to explain using text.

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