How to write a business requirements document?
When beginning a project and partnering with a vendor, it’s crucial that everyone involved understands the expected outcomes of the partnership. That’s where a business requirements document (BRD) comes in handy. Often, a BRD is used to detail a business’s needs when seeking a new technology provider, consultant or contractor.
In order for the business requirements document to be clear and successful, many factors must be carefully considered and included. In this article, we’ll explore what a business requirements document is. We’ll also cover how to write one and what it looks like in an RFP management system.
Finally, what to include in your BRD as well as templates and examples to get you started.
Business requirements document definition
- The difference between a BRD and FRD
- How to write a business requirements document
- Key components, templates and examples
- How BRDs fit into the RFx process
- What is a business requirements document?
A BRD is a formal document that outlines the goals and expectations an organization hopes to achieve by partnering with a vendor to complete a specific project. Remember, it’s important to understand this is not the same as a functional requirements document (FRD).
What’s the difference between a business requirements document and functional requirements document?
A BRD deals with what an organization hopes to achieve through a vendor partnership. On the other hand, a functional requirements document (FRD) deals with how they expect to achieve it.
For example, imagine an organization that’s recently purchased an applicant tracking system to help with their recruiting efforts. They might use a BRD to explain that they expect to increase their candidate pipeline by 10 percent.
Then, they might create an FRD to detail how they expect to achieve that goal — perhaps through integrations with popular job boards. To learn more about FRDs check out this blog.
So, how exactly do you create a BRD that effectively informs your vendor about the outcomes and expectations you have around a project?
Everything you need to write a successful business requirements document
What are the components of a business requirements document?
While each BRD is unique, they generally contain a few common sections. You’ll find each of these sections in our downloadable business development requirements template.
The executive summary sets the stage for the entire document. In fact, this is the first section your vendor will read. So, make sure you hold their attention and quickly convey all the necessary information. Essentially, the executive summary should set the stage for the BRD.
Project overview and objectives
In this section, you’ll go into detail about the project. Certainly there’s a lot of ground to cover in this section. For example, you can explore the current process, business drivers, users and departments affected. You’ll want to be as specific as possible to avoid confusion once the project begins.
- Overall goal(s) for the project
- A high-level description of what the project will accomplish
- How the goal supports larger strategic objectives
- A list of stakeholders involved
- Background of the project (How it came to be and issues or problems experienced)
- Business drivers that make this project important (Operational, market, environmental or financial)
- Description of current process and proposed process (Diagrams can be helpful)
Here is where you’ll cover your goals in greater detail. Generally, we recommend using SMART goals — which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Not only will this will help you effectively communicate your expectations with your vendor but it also provides a simple way to evaluate success when you finish the project.
While brainstorming your business requirements, consider your priorities. For example, designate each of your requirements as critical, high priority, medium priority, low priority or a future requirement. Ultimately, you’ll need to assign importance to each in your final BRD.
The project scope is one of the most important sections in your BRD. This will explain what your organization is responsible for and what your vendor is responsible for.
Remember, be as detailed as possible, and don’t make any assumptions. Unfortunately, when misunderstandings with a vendor arise over the course of a project, you can usually trace them back to a vague or confusing project scope.
Try to use common language as much as possible within your business requirements document. However, that’s not always possible. Use this section to define any terms the vendor might not understand. For instance, if you’re using terminology specific to your business, industry jargon or acronyms, this section is crucial to effectively communicate your requirements to your vendors.
Interested in exploring, playing and learning how you could improve your business requirements document and procurement processes?