Renowned business author Stephen R. Covey said, “All things are created twice. First in mind and then in reality.” But when we talk about application development, it becomes ‘thrice.’ That is, creating the app in the Functional Requirements Documentation (FRD) before it gets to the “reality” portion of the equation.
The FRD can be defined as a formal statement of the functional needs of an application. Its role is similar to that of a contract, so both developers and clients can agree on common ground, i.e., the developers will offer the mentioned capabilities, and the client will find the product satisfactory when the specified capabilities are met.
Defining an application’s functional requirements is mandatory as it helps determine the application’s present and future. When the requirements are filled in the pages of digital forms properly defining the formal statement of the FRD, the people working on it can use it as a ‘guide’ for developing the application.
The need for FRDs applies to both client and the developer. After a detailed discussion with the business owners, developers prepare documentation that details the purpose of an application, its UI/UX needs, Admin functions, Regulatory requirements, and the certifications that the application demands.
A suitable definition and documentation of all the above-mentioned requirements make things streamlined for each stakeholder; whether it is business analysts, customers, development teams, or end-users, an FRD will help come up with a better estimate, manage expenses, improve user satisfaction, and decrease project duration.
To get a holistic overview of FRD, keep reading.
Why to Use a Functional Requirements Documentation?
One of the fundamental purposes of an FRD is to bridge the gap between technology and business. So it is a meeting point for the technical development team and project stakeholders. With the development of the document, both parties can collaborate and address the following:
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Although the solution team develops FRD, it should be independent of the solution, so it should offer information on what the product should do rather than how the product will be developed, how it will work, or what it should be. To put it simply, an FRD does not impose any solution. Rather, it allows you to decide how to decide the project, answering all the needs.
Now, let us get into the various areas that FRD will focus on, with tips on how to fulfill each one:
What Are the Areas That FRD Focuses on?
A properly curated FRD will focus on the following areas to ensure all the product capabilities are met at the client’s end.
1. Business Requirements
In this section, the document talks about:
- ‘What’ the final result of an app is supposed to look like and ‘why’ it is worthy of pursuing.
- Never offers or proposes a solution – defining the task at hand only.
- Includes short and long-term goals, the project’s vision, and the scope of any shortcoming the app might encounter.
For example, a customer wants an app that will help users calculate their monthly expenses. Accordingly, the developer will incorporate the price list and a function that keeps the list updated. A calculator is quite a basic integration that the application must have.
A few other integration examples include:
- Get more customers
- Automate operations
- Eliminate errors
- Optimize expenses
- Deliver better customer service
Thus, the business requirements are objective and are less prone to adjustments, making it more focused on the big picture.
2. Reporting Requirements
The reporting requirements imply the functioning of the application upon recognizing errors. As recognizing and addressing errors helps in improving an application significantly, including the requirement or clause becomes necessary. So if you want to drive quality improvement, documentation of everything related to errors is a must.
Let us consider an example of your application users getting frequent runtime errors. Frequent runtime errors imply some issues with the web server configuration. Although it might work perfectly on the developer’s system, the web server configuration might differ. In this case, the developers will reconfigure web servers where the app users get runtime errors.
3. Administrative Functions
Certain parties, such as the back-end team, will need access or permissions to make inquiries in terms of the program or might have to make alterations when the app is developed. In other words, they will ‘access.’ In this section, define what those admin functions might include, who has admin access because of those issues and how they gain access.
Here are five basic administrative functions that every back-end team needs to follow. They are:
In the planning process, a team establishes a goal and plans out the process for the completion of that goal. When they can access the metrics and demographics of the app, they can plan it out in a better way.
Organizing helps the concerned team delegate authority within the supervisory units. This is important so that the back-end teams know what functions are to be completed and if there’s a need for more workforce.
Staffing and Directing don’t need FRD access, but Controlling is an important function of Admins since it helps let out the elephant in the room.
This function helps check if the application is leading to the desired path, helping the users calculate their budget. But, if the application leads users in some other direction, the admin team will bring this problem to light in order to bring the application back on a trajectory.
To do so, they need access to the purpose and requirements included in the FRDs. Initially, this access is provided by the developers, but later on, the team members who have been given the authority to assign roles and access the database can extend this access to other team members.
The authentication function exists to validate the identity of the users when they try to log in to the application. Their credentials serve as a means of authentication to confirm they are who they say they are. So when a particular user tries to login into the app, their credentials are matched with the already existing credentials for the same email, phone, or username.
- Certification Requirements
Your organization might require certifications to work on the system, such as security certifications. An application system might need different certifications depending on the industry. Some certification requirements arise from regulatory requirements too. Explain these requirements in detail when creating a functional specification document.
If you are going to fetch data from customers, users, or visitors, security certifications become the need of the hour.
These are the requirements one needs to comprise in the FRD. But why does one need to do it? Specifying these requirements gives a clearer view of the application and its working.
Functional Requirements Document Vs. Non-functional Requirements Document
While trying to understand the purpose of FRDs, always remember that ‘Functional’ Requirements differ from ‘Non-Functional’ Requirements. That is, FRDs are based on the ‘capabilities’ of an application versus ‘the experience of using it.’ To differentiate, refer to the table here that separates the two schools of thought.
|Parameters||Functional Requirements||Non-Functional Requirements|
|End Result||Implementation of the functional specification and design change requests||Verifies the performance of the software|
|Primary Focus||User requirements||User expectations|
|Documentation||Usability related||Quality related|
|Essentiality||Mandatory||Not mandatory but desirable|
|Origin Type||User defined||Developers or tech expert defined|
|Testing||API, UI, Component and others before the nonfunctional testing||Performance, security testing, usability, etc., after functional testing|
|Types||Authentication, External Interface, authorization levels, business rules, etc.||Reliability, performance, scalability, usability, etc.|
Now that you understand the differences between the two let us come to the point and see why FRD is so important.
Why is FRD Crucial?
FRD is one of the most analyzed and detailed pieces of the document as it talks about the expected functioning (including compliance and security requirements and business features) of the app in depth. Created by software engineers and developers, this documentation is a combined effort put in by developers and testers. So why is it considered so important? Let us see:
- Defining the Motto of the App
While laying down the terms of the requirements, you can always reinforce the reason that inspired the creation of the application. This will help remind all parties to stay on or around the motive of your application and maintain the quality standard you set as an individual or a brand.
- Agreement of the Stakeholders
The stakeholders of a particular project have one source of truth. When you have properly documented requirements, all of them, i.e., developers, designers, and QA testers, stay on the same page and work towards the same goal, thereby avoiding miscommunication or misunderstanding.
- Fewer Meetings And Communication Errors
A lot of time and effort is lost on meetings. However, with an FRD, less time is spent in discussions and meetings. In addition, as the team shares the same understanding and a written document, the need for frequent meetings lessens. Rather, stakeholders can be more dependent on asynchronous communication to stay aligned.
- Proper Estimation Of Project
With an in-depth, top-notch FRD in place, you can estimate an accurate developmental cost and time associated with the app and develop one that meets the expectations.
- Quick Identification Of Errors
The identification of problems becomes easier and quicker with an FRD in place. Upon thorough capture of functional requirements during the discovery phase, early identification of errors can be done and corrected, thereby saving time and resources.
User Stories: A Crucial Part of FRD
These describe your app as the end-user, or the final user would want it.
Why is it important? Because once you start writing it down from the user’s perspective, you realize there are so many things different users would want. This may sound like hectic work, but it is so necessary that you do it since it decides how convenient your app would be for the users.
As and when you write the story, the following format is suggested:
As a <admin or customer>, I want <name of the activity> so that <result of the action>.
As a buyer of this service, I want a monthly, quarterly, and yearly pricing model to make it easier for me to decide which one would be feasible.
Let’s see which components make up the User stories.
1. Acceptance Criteria
By all means, one must create the user stories that accompany the acceptance criteria. The acceptance criteria are to be written as a checklist of things. The app can only be said to be prepared properly when this checklist is completed.
Here’s what the acceptance checklist can look like for a “Search” feature:
- The search field has to be at the top and easily visible to the eye.
- A clickable button that starts the search upon clicking.
- Default content “Type something to search” in gray color on the search bar.
- When the user starts typing, the default text disappears.
- Default search language to be set as English.
- Character limit to be set at 200.
- When the user types special characters, a default message is displayed that says, “Enter only alphabets and numbers.”
2. Impact Area
Every user story has some purpose. It becomes imperative to test the application concerning them. That’s why user stories comprise a section regarded as an ‘impact area.’ This outlines the desired impact a user would want to create by taking particular actions on the app.
3. Data Dictionary
In every app where the data is fetched from the users, the application asks for the data. This data has forms to be filled out to submit information or register.
These blocks where the users click and fill up their information are called form fields. Don’t let your mind boggle over this. The examples of the form fields are:
- First Name
- Middle Name
- Last Name
- Address Line 1
- Address Line 2
- Area Code
- E-Mail Address
- Phone Number.
There can be more depending on the app one makes. But the FRD doesn’t forever remain the same. Change is the only constant, be it Nature or technology. So what to do if you have to change the FRD?
What if Changes Are Needed to FRD?
Even after countless client meetings, hours of brainstorming, and days preparing an FRD, it might be possible for the client to come up with something that’s not a part of the final document. It could be a change, addition, or both.
Such requests are regarded as change requests (CRs), and they’re accommodated in the newer versions of the FRD. Mostly, the development company would account for these changes with extra time and effort.
After looking closely at the FRD, it is safe to say there’s no reason not to have it. To make a successful application, you must first instill excellence. FRD is the first step. The user stories are integral since that is the closest part to the users.
Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions about the Functional Requirement Documentation. We would love to help you.