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Reasons to Write a Good System Requirements Specification

Justifying the time and effort to prepare a good system requirements specification

It’s not unknown for people to think about skimping on their requirements specification - often due to lack of time or work pressures. But this is a really bad idea. Your requirements specification is a critical document and deserves your time and attention. So, if you are considering, or being pressured into cutting corners - here are 10 reasons why you should write a good systems requirements specification, and to justify spending the time and effort in doing so.


1. Not doing so is a common cause of failed projects

Poor quality software system requirements specifications are a common cause of failed projects. And not spending the time and effort on the specification often is the cause of a poor specification. So, if you want to avoid a failed project, you need to put time and effort into the system requirements specification.


2. It underpins everything else

A good system requirements specification underpins everything else. Your project is built upon these foundations. Get the specification right and you will have a solid foundation, and be off to a good start.


3. It’s more likely that you will select the right software

A good system requirements specification makes it much more likely, that you will select the right software system for your needs.


4. It’s key to the project success

A key to the success of a project is to get the functional and non-functional requirements for the procurement stage, absolutely clear. In fact, it’s critical to the success of a software project.


5. Not doing so, leaves your requirements up to others to interpret

If you do not specify your requirements precisely enough, you effectively leave it up to the software vendors to ‘read your mind’. Consequently, the software vendors and their proposed solutions will all meet your needs – making it nearly impossible or guesswork to identify the right solution for your organisation.


6. It will save you time and money in the long run

Taking the time and effort to get your software systems requirements right, will save you time and money in the long run. It will help you to avoid reworking your requirements specification or even worse - choosing the wrong software solution (based on an incorrect specification) - at huge cost to your organisation. It will also save you much time and effort implementing the wrong software.


7. It reduces project risks

You will reduce project risks, with a proper specification of system requirements. When done, you will have covered all the points, analysed and resolved issues, verified requirements and be in a much stronger position.


8. It provides reassurance and confidence

A good system requirement specification, reassures stakeholders and users that the project team has really understood their (business) requirements properly. This in turn, provides increased confidence in the project team, the project as a whole and that the right software will ultimately be selected.


9. It increases understanding

It improves user, stakeholder and software vendor understanding of what is required, in total and by individual component. Consequently, it will assist in evaluating vendor offerings, because users will clearly know what they need to look for and can check the potential solutions for these specific items.


10. It’s just common sense

You wouldn’t choose a new car without carefully working out your needs (ie a clear specification). So why would you consider doing so for a new software system, which is much more expensive and would affect many more people?


For more system selection information visit: Selection steps / Stakeholder analysis form / Stakeholder management tips / Sample project plan / RACI Matrix / Project initiation checklist / How not to select software / Critical success factors / Software selection time saving tips / Project issue log / Requirements gathering techniques / System design review / Simple risk assessment form / Risk assessment worksheet / Software prototyping / Project reporting form / Project Status Report Template / Software selection warning signs

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