How to Create a Software Requirements Specification (SRS) for Your Project

Sep 30, 2022
12 min read
Business

How to Create a Software Requirements Specification (SRS) for Your Project

How to Create a Software Requirements Specification (SRS) for Your Project


When beginning a new software project, there is a need to lay the groundwork for a successful outcome. The scope of project work, quality assurance standards, and other details manage expectations and reduce risks as much as possible beforehand.

However, without having a clear idea of what your team needs to build and how it should be built, things can get messy pretty fast. It’s not enough just to have some vague ideas about what you want in the end. Also need to know how we get there from here — and that means having a detailed Software Requirements Specification (SRS) that covers every aspect of the final product.

In this blog post, on how to write software requirements, we’ll look at why an SRS is important for any software project, and what makes up an effective SRS document. Whether you’re working on a brand-new project or simply want to make sure your next one goes smoothly from the beginning, this is the article for you!

What Goes Into a Software Requirements Specification?

An SRS is a collection of information that will guide the development of your product. The SRS can vary in format and length depending on how comprehensive the project is. An SRS document should outline your product's objectives, features, and functionality. It should also include information on how will reach those goals.

The following are examples of essential items that go into an SRS.

Objectives

The first item in any SRS is the objectives. The objectives list the reasons why your team is creating the product. It is important to be clear on these goals. Make sure that everybody on your team understands them. Often, objectives are written as a list of problems or issues, followed by a list of solutions. This is called a Problem/Opportunity/Solution (POS) format. The objectives should also include a clear statement of the project’s goals. Make sure that your team has agreed on the project’s goals.

Features

The next section in the SRS documents the project’s features. It will give a summary of what the feature does, who will use it, and why are you including it. These characteristics will also assist in writing better user stories.

User Stories

User stories are short descriptions that focus on a specific user and what they want to achieve. User stories are placed in the SRS as a way of defining the product’s features.

The format of a user story is as follows: - As a role> I want some goal> So that some reason.

The first two lines are known as the context. The third line is the goal. The fourth line is the reason why the user is trying to achieve the goal. Some people prefer to put the reason after the goal.

Product Walkthrough

The product walkthrough is a description of how the product will work. It is often written as a series of steps that a user would go through to complete a particular task. You can also provide a visual representation of the product walkthrough as a series of flowcharts or diagrams

Responsibilities of the Development Team

The team that is responsible for developing the product is likely to change over time. However, the creation of an SRS means that have an agreed-upon standard for the level of information needed to create the product. This section of the SRS document outlines the responsibilities of each team member.

Who needs software requirements specificationand why

Stakeholders
Document requirements discussed by the client and contractor
Investors
Assess the prospects of software to make investment decisions
Developers
Estimate and plan developed according to the client's requirements
Designers
Create mockups based on requirements and use cases from the SRS
QA engineers
Test the software against the client's requirements and business needs
Nontechnical employers 
Plan activities using the SRS as a full description of the software

How SRS Differs From A Brief And RFP

Before starting the development, you may create a development brief or a request for proposal (RFP). These documents may also be created. We want to make sure everything is clear because there are so many documents.

What is a development brief — Before we begin developing software, our specialists interview you to obtain more information and use it as a starting point. A development brief is a simple description of your future plans and ideas.

What is an RFP — When a client wants a development team to create a certain product, they usually create a request for a proposal (RFP). This is because the request clarifies many issues and specifies necessary details.

In the case of an RFP, a brief is not necessary. 
What is an SRS document — Finally, an SRS document is an official approval for your project development that contains detailed technical and non-technical info about everything related to the project.

Summary

The summary is a one-sentence description of the product. It should provide a high-level overview of the product and its major components. Make sure that provide enough information in the summary to get the attention of other team members. The summary is often the first thing that people read when they open the SRS document. The SRS document is the main resource for developing the project. It is a living document that will change over time as the product is developed. The SRS is important because it keeps all stakeholders informed. It is a roadmap that guides the team through the SRS development process. The SRS is also a way of managing expectations. It helps to avoid misunderstandings since each person knows what is expected of them.

Creating the Right Environment for Writing a software requirements specification

In order to get the most out of SRS, you must establish the appropriate environment. First, make sure to have plenty of time to write your SRS. The document should be one of the first things to do when you start a new software project. The more time has, the better the SRS will be since it’s your chance to really understand your users, goals, and project scope.

Here's a step-by-step guide to creating an SRS:

  • Step 1: Define a User Story
  • Step 2: Estimate Time and Cost of Tasks
  • Step 3: Define What Activities You’ll Need to Complete
  • Step 4: Determine the Product Features
table Unit Space

Step 1: Define a User Story

A user story is a sentence that describes a feature or functionality. It should give a general idea of how a user will interact with your product. User stories are critical to creating an SRS because they force you to focus on your user's needs. Your users aren’t going to care about how built the product. They just care about how it solves their problems. That’s why user stories are a good way to identify what needs to be included in an SRS.

For example, if you’re building an app that lets users manage their finances, you might have a user story like this: Users can view their budget. This is a very basic user story. It doesn’t go into much detail about what that means. It’s okay for now. You can add more details when you’re creating your SRS.

Including the User Experience in a Software Requirements Specification

As you write your user stories, include information about the user experience. Let’s use the budget example from above: Users can view their budget. The user experience can be added to your user stories. It can include information about the user interface elements that show the budget. It is possible to include information about how a user transitions from one screen to another.
For example, if you’re managing your budget and decide that want to change the amount of money you’re spending on groceries, might have a transition like this: View the budget > Select the grocery category > Select the grocery amount > Confirm > Budget updated > Return to the budget

Describing the UX in a Software Requirements Specification

Adding details to your user stories can give more information about the experience. Let’s use the same example from above: Users can view their budget. There is also possible to add details about how a user experiences that functionality. This helps the team understand how the product will work. 
For example, if you want your product to allow users to view their budget, could describe how that works in the SRS.

You are able to describe:

  1. how a user moves from the home screen to a screen that shows their budget
  2. how the user would interact with the budget screen
  3. how the budget screen would look and feel

Describing the UX in a Software Requirements Specification

When creating an SRS, you’re defining a product. You’re defining the functionality and user experience of your product. That’s why it’s important to define your user stories. User stories concentrate your attention on your user's needs. It’s critical to include details about the user experience and user interface elements in your user stories. That way can better describe what you need to include in your SRS.

Step 2: Estimate Time and Cost of Tasks

An SRS is also a great place to break down the tasks expect to accomplish. It is possible to estimate how long each task will take. May wish to include a table or spreadsheet with estimated times and costs. This will help organize and track tasks. If you’re managing tasks on project management software, can include that information in the SRS as well.

Define the scope of your software project

It is crucial to have a grasp on the scope of the project as early as possible. Establishing a baseline for time and cost will be helped by this. In some cases, may need to create more detailed project plans to manage expectations around cost and timelines. When working with clients, may want to include a “scope of work” or “statement of work” to help clarify the details of the project.

Create a feature list

When creating a feature list, try to think about the “above-the-line” items. That are the items that are necessary to create the product. Be sure to leave room for “below-the-line” items. These items are not necessary to create the product, but may still be necessary for reasons like marketing. “Below-the-line” items may include designing logos, creating content, etc. 

Consider the following when creating a feature list:

  1. What are the features that are necessary to create the product? What are the “above-the-line” features?
  2. Which features are “below-the-line” items?

Determine development team size and skill set requirements

There are many factors that go into determining the size of your development team. Keep in mind that a larger team may mean more communication and collaboration, which can help avoid unnecessary rework. For example, if assign three people to create a single feature, the team members may need to communicate about the design and functionality of that feature. This may introduce additional time and costs due to rework or communication missteps.

When determining the team size, consider the following:

  1. How many developers will be needed to create the product? What skill set do those developers need to have?
  2. What about other team members such as designers, project managers, and product owners?

Define usability and user experience requirements

When defining usability and user experience requirements, think about the end user. How will the product be used? Is it intuitive to use? Is it easy to navigate? What are the “best practices” when it comes to design and functionality? 

Should consult with online resources for best practices in design and usability. May also want to reach out to designers in your network. They may be able to offer insight into design and functionality.

Define software security and scalability requirements

Security features help protect the product, data, and users. This includes data encryption, data security, and authentication. What are the security requirements for the product? How will the data be secured? Will authentication be required? 

Scalability refers to how the product will perform and grow in terms of how many users are on the system and how much data it’s handling. What are the scalability requirements for the product? How many users are expected to use the product? What about data?

 

Define requirements for quality assurance tasks

Quality assurance, or QA is the process of testing the product to ensure it works as intended. There are different types of QA tasks, including functional, security, performance, and usability testing. 

When defining requirements for quality assurance tasks, consider the following:

  1. What types of testing are necessary for the product? What is the breakdown of testing tasks?
  2. Is there anything that should be done prior to testing?

Estimate the cost of developing new features

If you’ve already determined the features and functions of the product, worth estimating the cost of developing those features. Estimate the cost of development tasks based on the type of work, team size, and hours worked. For example, developing a new feature may include tasks like research and design, coding, testing, and deployment. Research and design tasks may take 2-3 weeks. Coding might take another 2-3 weeks, depending on the type of product. Testing the product may take 1-2 weeks. And, the team may need another week to deploy the new feature. In total, the team may need 5-8 weeks to ship the feature. This may give an indication of the “effort” of the development. If the feature takes longer than expected, look at why it’s taking longer. This is an opportunity to identify roadblocks and mitigate risks.

Step 3: Define What Activities You’ll Need to Complete

An SRS is a lot like a recipe. Want to break down each task and create a list of ingredients that go into the final product. Can include the following information in your SRS to help break down what needs to complete.

  1. User Experience: How your users will interact with your product.
  2. Design: How your product will look.
  3. Development: What languages you’re using to build the product?
  4. Testing: How you will test the final product.
  5. Infrastructure: What type of hardware or software does your product need?

User Stories

A user story is a written description of something a user needs to accomplish with your product. User stories describe a specific action a user takes with your product. They do not feature lists, which are the things your product will do. User stories are helpful because they focus on user needs, not what your product needs to do. User stories are written from the perspective of the user, not the product owner. User stories are short. They’re just a couple of sentences long, and they are written in the language of the user, not the product owner. They’re written from the perspective of the user, and they focus on a specific action a user needs to complete, like “As a subscriber, I want to be able to mark posts as read”.

EstimaUse Cases

QuaIf you’ve already determined the features and functions of the product, worth estimating the cost of A use case is a series of steps that describes how the product works in a real-life situation. A use case is essentially a story about how a user sees your product in a real-life situation. It’s written in a format called an “As-If” template. It begins with the words “As if” and continues with a description of the real-life situation. Then it describes what the user wants to achieve, followed by what the product should do in response. This is essentially describing a story about how the product works in a real-life situation. In one example, a user logs into their account and marks a post as read. This is the action that the user takes. The user wants to mark a post as read because they’ve already read it. The product responds by marking the post as read. This is the action that the product takes in response to the user’s action.

Software Requirements

QuaIf you’ve already determined the features and functions of the product, worth estimating the cost of A use case is a series of steps that describes how the product works in a real-life situation. A use case is essentially a story aWhile use cases describe how a product works, software requirements describe what the product actually looks like. Software requirements are essentially the details that go into those use cases. It’s the ingredients that go into the recipe. For example, if a use case is “As a subscriber, I want to be able to mark posts as read,” a software requirement might be “Subscribers can mark posts as read by clicking on a button below each post.”

Confirmed Software Requirements

List confirmed software requirements in your SRS. This is the software requirements list that you’ve researched and confirmed with your team. Might be using a new language or framework for the first time, in which case your SRS will include a list of confirmed software requirements to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Risk Analysis

If you’ve already determined the features and functions of the product, worth estimating the cost of A use case Risk analysis helps identify anything that might go wrong with your product. Risk analysis includes details about each risk and ways to mitigate those risks. For example, might have a risk that a new language or framework doesn’t have as many tutorials for beginners as your current language. Can mitigate this risk by researching what needs to know about the new language upfront. May also risk that the product will be too complicated to build. Likewise, may mitigate this risk by simplifying your product as much as possible. By identifying possible risks and how to mitigate them, you’ll know how to prepare for anything that might go wrong. Use your risk analysis to identify things that could go wrong. This will help plan accordingly so that you’re prepared no matter what happens.

Step 4: Determine the Product Features

This is where really get into the nitty-gritty of what your product must do. Your SRS is a good place to list product features. These are your must-haves. They are what your users expect from your product. It’s good to have these in the SRS so that can refer back to them as build the product. Can avoid getting distracted by new ideas with this.

The following can be included in your product features.

  1. User needs: Actions users will take with your product.
  2. User flow: How users will interact with your product.

Use Cases: User tasks that happen while completing the user flows

A use case is a story that shows how a user will complete a task with your product. For example, a use case for an online photo-sharing app might be “A user uploads a photo and shares it with a friend.” This is just one example. Have multiple use cases for each user flow. One thing to keep in mind is that use cases aren’t just about what users will do, but what they will try to do. Might find that users have many ways of accomplishing the same tasks. Your use cases should include all of these different ways of doing things.

Measures of Success: How you will know if your product is a success

Define what success looks like for your product. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, won’t be able to see if you’ve achieved it.  Should do this for both your overall vision and for each feature. Examples of measuring the vision might include increasing brand awareness or increasing revenue. For each feature, it would be beneficial to know if the feature is used frequently or if it is user-friendly. You might also be interested in knowing if there are any issues with the feature.

Product Risk Factors: The potential risks of building your product

List the potential risks associated with building your product. Potential solutions can be listed if discover issues while creating the SRS. This will avoid getting stuck on issues. Are free to proceed when having a solution. Issues that aren’t critical to the SRS can move to the backlog.

Your risk factors might include the following:

  1. Technical Limitations: Are there certain technologies that you can’t use? This can be due to availability, scalability, or cost.
  2. User Limitations: What is your user’s skill level? This can include both technical skills and knowledge about your product.
  3. Product Limitations: What features are non-negotiable for your product?
  4. Business Limitations: What must your product do or accomplish?

Product Constraints: Limitations on building your product

List the potential risks associated with building your product. Potential solutions can be listed if discover issues Constraints often limit the features or functionality of your product. This can include things like budget or deadlines. Could also consider constraints from the perspective of why something is limited. For example, might experience a financial constraint because of your budget. Might face a time constraint because of your product’s deadline. Your constraints should also include any limitations set by your stakeholders. This can include things like the product’s overall theme or design. May also have a business constraint if your company can’t afford certain items. Your SRS may not be what expect it to be. And that’s OK.  The goal is to get your product mapped out. Can refer back to your SRS as creating your product. By outlining your product's features, will be able to create a more effective plan for how to create your product. Can create a better timeline, a better budget, and a better product. This will avoid headaches and mistakes when creating a new product.

Product Risk Factors: The potential risks of building your product

It is possible to know how long your product will take by creating a timeline. Break up your timeline into phases. Each phase is a different part of the process. 

For example, you might have the following phases:

  1. Research and Discovery: You can use this phase to create an SRS, find your product metrics, and create a product roadmap.
  2. Product Design and Development: This phase is where you create your mockups and design the user experience of your product.
  3. Product Testing and Launch: This phase is when you test your product with users and launch your product.
  4. Post-Launch: This is when you analyze your product metrics and make any necessary changes.

Create a product roadmap: What will happen when and in what order?

A product roadmap is a visual representation of what needs to be done and when. It will help with the timeline created in the previous section. The roadmap can be a visual image or document. Could enter this information into a spreadsheet or a project management tool like Asana.

A product roadmap can include details such as the following:

  1. Product features: What features will your product have?
  2. Business drivers: What must your product do?
  3. Product owner: Who is responsible for each product feature?
  4. Order of tasks: What must happen first, second, third, etc.?

Create a mockup: Design the user experience of your product.

A mockup is a visual representation of what your product will look like. It’s a good idea to create a mockup for your product’s user experience. This can include the user interface, user journey, and functionality. Your mockup should include any data that the user will see. This can include things like menus, graphs, and charts. This will save time and money later. It will also help avoid mistakes that would be difficult to correct later.

Create a product timeline: What does each phase look like?

A product timeline is a visual representation of how long each phase will take. Your timeline should add each phase of your product’s creation. It should also consider the amount of time needed for each phase. This can regard things like research, design, and testing. This can also include the time it takes to communicate with your team members.

Create a product budget: How much will the project cost?

A product budget is a visual representation of how much your product will cost. Create a budget for each phase of your product. May also want to include things like the cost of hiring team members, equipment, or contractors. Furthermore, can find the cost of almost anything online, including software.

A product budget can include details such as the following:

  1. Name of the product: What is the name of your product?
  2. Total project cost: How much does your project cost?
  3. Budget for each phase: What does each phase cost?

Create a product risk analysis: What are the potential risks?

A product risk analysis is a document that lists the potential risks of creating your product. Break them down by phase. Also, list ways to mitigate these risks or reduce their impact. This is similar to what we discussed in the product risk factors section of this tutorial.

Conclusions

The SRS process can be long and arduous. It’s important to set aside time and create a space where you can really explore your project. Your Software Requirements Specification is one of the most indispensable documents it can create. It’s the foundation of your product. 

If you don’t build your SRS correctly, the risk of building a product that has too many bugs is too expensive and doesn’t serve your users. This is why it should take the time to create great functional requirements. Your users and project will be better understood by it. It will also help identify any issues or challenges in your project, so it can solve them before they become problems.

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