PM Articles by ProjectManager.com.
It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when you’re managing a project. There are day-to-day operations that the project manager obsesses over, but they also need to see the big picture. That’s why a business requirements document is so important.
To prove this point, let’s define what a business requirements document (BRD) is and what its components are. Plus, we’ll give you tips on how to write a better one before showing how project management software can make the process even more efficient.
What Is a Business Requirements Document?
A business requirements document offers an overview of what a business does and why it needs the project deliverable to be undertaken. It outlines the business solutions for project requirements that are necessary for the project to deliver value and becomes the foundation of the project’s life cycle.
The business requirements document highlights what the end result of the project should be. When a change request is introduced to the project, the business requirements document must be revised to reflect this change.
The main purpose of a BRD is to show what the system will look like from a business perspective. It includes both the business solution and the technical solution to the project. The business requirements document helps answer the question of what is needed for the business. It also answers how the project will be delivered and contains a prioritized list of features and business requirements that the delivered software, product or service must provide.
Think of the business requirements document as the defined steps you should follow to reach a result that serves both the customers and stakeholders for the delivered product, system or service. The project team is involved in this process to help determine how to implement the delivery of the project and fulfill what the business needs. Stakeholders are also involved and must agree on the plan before it’s implemented.
To accomplish this, you’ll need project management software that can organize tasks and connect the entire project team. ProjectManager is online project management software that delivers real-time data across multiple project views that lets everyone work how they want. Our interactive Gantt chart can be shared with teams and stakeholders as tasks are organized on a timeline. You can link dependent tasks, add milestones and filter for the critical path. Then, set a baseline and track your business requirements document in real time over the life cycle of the project. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
Business Requirements vs. Functional Requirements
It’s common to confuse business requirements with functional requirements. They’re both requirements, but they serve different purposes. To review, business requirements explain the final results of a business goal in the project and why the organization should initiate that project.
A business requirement isn’t about offering or proposing a solution, only defining the task at hand. This includes defining the short and long-term goals, the company vision and the scope of the business problem.
On the other hand, the functional requirement is about how a system needs to operate in order to achieve its business goal. It proposes subjective solutions based on the organization’s strengths and limitations as well as being technically focused. A functional requirement is also presented with a use case.
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a business requirement and a functional requirement. Project activities can be both a business requirement and a functional requirement or even neither.
What Should Be Included in a BRD?
Why should you create a business requirements document? It reduces the chances that your project will fail due to misalignment with business requirements and connects the organization’s business goals with the project. It brings stakeholders and the team together and saves costs that accrue due to change requests, training, etc.
You’ll want to create a business requirement document, and even though it’s an involved process, it can be broken down into seven key steps. They are as followed.
1. Executive Summary
To begin, you’ll need to create an executive summary that provides an overview of the organization and the challenges facing the business. You’ll explain the issues and what the organization is trying to achieve to ensure everyone is on the same page. This section should be short, like an elevator pitch, summarizing the rest of the business requirements document.
2. Project Objectives
After summarizing the issue you plan to address in the project, you’ll want to clearly define the project’s objective. This helps define the project phases, creates a way to identify solutions for the requirements of the business and the customer, gains consensus from stakeholders and the project team and describes how you arrived at the objectives.
3. Project Scope
The project scope should define in detail what is covered in the project and what would make it run out of scope. This creates a clear boundary for the project and allows stakeholders and teams to agree on the business goals and high-level outcomes. Note what problems are being addressed, the boundaries for implementing the project and the expected return on investment (ROI).
4. Business Requirements
Here you’ll want to list the business requirements or critical activities that must be completed to meet the organization’s objectives. These business requirements should meet both stakeholder and customer needs. This can include a process that must be completed, a piece of data that is needed for the process or a business rule that governs that process and data.
5. Key Stakeholders
Now you’ll want to identify and list the key stakeholders in the project. Once you have that list, assign roles and responsibilities to each. These might be people outside of your department so you should define their role in the success of the project. This information needs to be distributed in order for everyone to know what’s expected of them in the project. You can even use this section to assign tasks.
6. Project Constraints
At this point, you’ll want to explore the project constraints. Define the limitations of the project and share those with the project team so they know of any obstacles earlier than later. In order for them to clear those hurdles, you’ll want to provide any necessary training or allocate resources to help the project stay on track.
7. Cost-Benefit Analysis
You’ll also want to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the costs associated with the project are worth the benefits you’ll get. This requires first determining the associated costs of the project, such as upfront development costs, unexpected costs, future operating costs and tangible and intangible costs. You’ll also need to figure out what benefits derive from the project.
3 Key Tips to Write a Business Requirements Document
As noted, the best way to begin writing a business requirements document is to meet with your stakeholders and team to get a clear picture of their expectations. But that’s only the start. There are many other best practices for writing a BRD. Here are a few.
1. Start With Thorough Requirements Gathering
Requirements gathering is the process of identifying all requirements necessary for the project. That means everything from the start of the project to the end of the project. You’ll want to address the length of the project, who will be involved and what risks are possible.
2. Differentiate Between Business Requirements and Functional Requirements
Remember, business requirements are what needs to be done, such as the project goals, and why that’s important for the organization. Functional requirements are how the processes, be they a system or person, need to work in order to achieve the project goals.
3. Use a Stakeholder Matrix
An important aspect of any business requirements document is identifying stakeholders. In fact, this should be done early in the process and a stakeholder matrix can help you analyze those stakeholders. It helps you understand the needs and expectations of your stakeholder in terms of their power or influence and the level of interest in your project.
ProjectManager Helps You Track Business Requirements
Once you have your business requirements document, the real work begins. There are many project management software tools that can help you plan and measure your project. ProjectManager is unique in that it adds real-time tracking to make sure your business requirements are being met.
Monitor Project With Real-Time Dashboards
When you make your plan on our interactive Gantt charts, the last thing is to set the baseline. Now you can track project variance across many of our features. Keeping projects on time and under budget is critical to meeting the business requirements of your stakeholders. To get a high-level view of the project, simply toggle to the dashboard where you can view six project metrics. Get live data on costs to tasks, and workload to health, all in easy-to-read graphs and charts. Unlike other tools that offer dashboards, you don’t have to waste time setting ours up. It’s plug-and-play.
Being able to view your progress and performance in real time is important for stakeholders and project managers. We have customizable reports that can be generated with a keystroke. As stakeholders don’t need all of the details, filters make it easy to focus on only the data they need to see. Then, easily share the report as a PDF or print it out, whichever delivery method your stakeholders prefer. We have reports on status and portfolio status, time, cost, timesheets and more. It’s a great way for project managers to dig into the data and keep stakeholders updated.
Of course, tracking is only one of the many features you’ll find when using our software to deliver your project. We offer task and resource management tools to balance your workload and real-time risk management, too. Keep track of potential risks that might keep your team from achieving the business requirements set by stakeholders.
ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you plan, schedule and track your project in real time. Use our tool to make sure you’re meeting all the business requirements in your BRD. Our collaborative platform makes it easy to connect with teams to help them work more productively and stakeholders to keep them up-to-date. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.