Preparing a Business Requirements Document: An Overview

If your company is considering embarking on a new product line or major business change, you’ll need a business requirements document. This comprehensive document helps align values, identify deadlines and answer questions for all stakeholders. Business requirements documents differ from other types of business paperwork in several important ways. Learn what business requirements documents are, what they’re composed of, how to write one and review answers to frequently asked questions. 

 

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What is a business requirement document? 

A business requirements document (BRD) outlines a new business plan or project. It describes the problem the business is trying to solve through the proposed project or expansion and necessary outcomes for success. Often, BRDs serve two roles: 1) a thorough plan for the project, detailing costs, implementation strategies, benefits, benchmarks and timeline, and 2) a contract between the operating company and any vendors or partners associated with the project, once all stakeholders have given approval.

 

Related: Managerial Requirements and Responsibilities: Key Skills

 

Components of a business requirements document

BRDs can vary from industry to industry in terms of structure and addenda, and they tend to share the same foundational components.

 

  • Project overview: The project overview, often written once the full BRD is complete, provides a description of the project’s vision, objectives and context. 
  • Factors for success: The objectives describe what needs to happen for the project to be successful. 
  • Scope of project: The project scope explains what is a part of the project and what is not a part of the project.
  • Stakeholder information: This section lists all contact information for all involved stakeholders. 
  • Project requirements: Include a list of all the necessary resources to complete the project.
  • Project constraints and assumptions: Describe any potential limiting factors to the project. 
  • Financial statements: The financial statements provide information on both funding the project and potential revenue after its completion. 
  • Timeline: Include a timeline and schedule for the project. 
  • Personnel needs: This describes any hiring needs and associated resources. 
  • Cost and benefit: This section provides a clear breakdown of all the project costs and a cost-benefit analysis for the project. 

 

How to write a BRD

To write an effective business requirements document, follow these steps.

 

1. Collect information

Begin by collecting information and data about the product you hope to create and the scope of the project necessary to reach your objective. Once you have all the information needed to create a realistic plan, make a document with the information thoughtfully organized for later review as you put the actual business requirements document together. 

 

2. Describe the product

Thoroughly describe the product or objective that will result from the project. Include not only its attributes but also how it will help solve customer problems and fill a need in the marketplace. If you have prototypes or drawings, include these in the description. 

 

3. Define the project

Consider each necessary step to move from the development of the business requirements plan to project completion. Discuss the scope of the project with all stakeholders so that your project definition and description are as accurate as possible. 

 

4. Identify phases 

Review the project scope you created and identify distinct phases if necessary. Depending on the complexity and length of the project, setting phase-end objectives along the path to full project completion can help keep everyone involved focused and on task. 

 

5. Complete the template

Use a business requirements template to flesh out the rest of your project details, including personnel needs, financial documentation, assumptions and other important project information. Include your project definition and step-by-step phases in the template. 

 

6. Share it with stakeholders and revise

Send the draft of your business requirements document to stakeholders for review and feedback. Add necessary information, make suggested changes and update any other document elements as needed. Once it’s been approved by all stakeholders, it can function as a contract. 

 

Business requirements document template

Business requirements documents are lengthy and include a substantial amount of information. Use this section template to help you organize your BRD and ensure you’ve included all the necessary elements. 

 

SUMMARY STATEMENT
[Summarize the project and expected outcomes.]

PROJECT OBJECTIVE
[Explain why the project is necessary.]

PROJECT SCOPE
[Explain the scope of the project.]

SUCCESS FACTORS
[List the necessary factors for project success.]

STAKEHOLDERS
[Provide a list of all project stakeholders.]

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
[Provide financial statements related to the project].

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS
[List the necessary elements to complete the project.]

CONSTRAINTS AND ASSUMPTIONS
[List potential challenges and assumptions about the project.]

PERSONNEL NEEDS
[List any additional personnel needs.]

TIMELINE
[Provide a timeline for all phases of the project.]

COST AND BENEFIT
[Provide the total projected cost of the project and the cost-benefit analysis.]

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Frequently asked questions about business requirements documents

What's the difference between a business requirements document and a functional requirements document?

Both the business requirements document (BRD) and the functional requirements document (FRD) are important elements of a new business venture. The BRD describes the high-level needs and intentions of the company while the FRD provides the specifics for how the project should run. 

Who writes the business requirements document? 

Different people can write the business requirements document. Some company owners choose to create the document on their own using a template and input from stakeholders while others employ external business analysts to help them create the document. 

When should I create a business requirements document?

The best time to prepare a business requirements document is in the early planning stages of an expansion or project. Since the business requirements document helps you establish important elements of the project, it’s best to write it before you’re too far along in the planning process. 

 

Business requirements documents are helpful for organizing your thoughts and creating an effective plan for collaborating with external stakeholders. Take the time to ensure your BRD is comprehensive and thorough to keep your project running smoothly.

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