What Is Requirements Analysis? (With Processes and Techniques)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 2, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Software engineers use a requirements analysis to identify and define user needs in the early stages of the development process. In addition, it helps them develop a system that fits the client's budget, time, and quality expectations. Understanding how to analyze requirements properly can help you design a software or system program that achieves expected results. In this article, we discuss requirements analysis, review its process, explore its techniques, and highlight some challenges of identifying a project's requirement.

What is requirements analysis?

Requirements analysis refers to a set of operations that help software developers identify and define the user's expectations of the program or application they're modifying or building. Software engineering professionals use different terms to refer to this process, such as requirements capturing, requirement engineering, or requirement gathering. The process typically involves documenting, analyzing, managing, and validating software or system requirements. In addition, requirements capturing also involves different tasks that help you understand stakeholders' demands and explain them in visual and simple ways. This process is essential to the success of a system or software project.

Requirements capturing typically involves different stakeholders whose input is essential throughout the project, such as the project sponsors and end users. Usually, the best results occur when all parties work together to produce a top-quality requirements document. For a project to be successful, it's essential that its requirements are:

  • Testable

  • Documented

  • Actionable

  • Traceable

  • Measurable

Related: How to Become a Freelance Software Developer in 9 Steps

Requirements analysis process

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you when performing requirement capturing:

1. Identify key stakeholders and end users

The first step in this process is finding the major stakeholders who are the project's primary sponsors. These sponsors typically have the final say on the project's scope parameters. In addition, identify the end users of the product. The primary aim of creating a product is to meet the demands and satisfy the needs of these users. As a result, it's important to get their input.

2. Capture requirements

In this step, find out each stakeholder and end user's requirements for the new project. Some of the techniques you can use to capture requirements include:

  • Holding one-on-one interviews: Conduct individual interviews for each end user and stakeholder. This technique helps you to collect specific requirements.

  • Using focus groups: You can organize group workshops or interviews to understand the information flow between end users and stakeholders. This technique helps you prevent conflict of interest as the project advances.

  • Employing use cases: You can use this process to demonstrate the product's performance from the customer's perspective. Use cases typically help you to visualize the actual performance of the product.

  • Building prototypes: Prototypes provide end users a sample feel and look of the end product. This technique can help you identify problems and address feasibility issues ahead of time.

3. Categorize requirements

Requirements are usually different types. It's essential to group the requirements into different categories. The four major categories of requirements include:

  • Functional requirements: These are the functions the product requires to perform.

  • Technical requirements: These technical elements are essential to ensure the successful implementation of the product.

  • Transitional requirements: These steps are essential to ensure you implement the project smoothly.

  • Operational requirements: You carry out these requirements in the backend to ensure the product functions properly.

4. Interpret and record requirements

After categorizing the requirements, consider identifying achievable requirements and record them. Some techniques you can use to interpret and analyze requirements include:

  • Defining the requirements precisely: It's essential to ensure that you make the requirements sufficiently detailed, clearly worded, and relevant to the business needs.

  • Prioritizing requirements: Outline the requirements and prioritize them depending on how crucial they are to the project.

  • Carrying out an impact analysis: Conducting an impact analysis helps you understand the requirement's consequences.

  • Resolving conflicts: It's essential to consult primary stakeholders to resolve conflicting requirements and perform scenario analysis to walk through the requirements and how they work in different scenarios.

  • Analyzing feasibility: Conduct a detailed analysis of the product using the gathered requirements to ensure it is reliable and helps you identify major issues.

  • Sharing the results: After completing the analysis, you can create a detailed document and share it among end users, major stakeholders, and development teams.

5. Sign off on the document

After making the final decisions about the requirements, it's essential to get all key stakeholders to agree. You can consider making this agreement in writing and ensure all stakeholders sign off on the document. This step helps prevent uncontrolled growth and arbitrary changes to the project's scope.

Techniques for requirements capturing

Some common techniques for requirement capturing include:

Flowchart technique

Flowcharts typically depict the control logic and sequential flow of related activities. These flowcharts appear in different formats, such as top-down, cross-functional, and linear. They also represent different functions such as data flows and system interactions. A major advantage of flowcharts is that they're easy to understand. In addition, both technical and non-technical team members can use them to convey information. The flowchart technique also helps you showcase important attributes of a process.

Business process modelling notation (BPMN)

The business process modelling notation technique shares similar characteristics to the flowchart technique, although the former has its elements and symbols. You can use the BPMN technique to create graphs for the business process. These graphs can help simplify the business process to aid understanding. In addition, the business process modelling notation technique is a popular process improvement methodology.

Unified modelling language (UML)

The unified modelling language comprises an integrated set of diagrams created to visualize, specify, document, and construct a software systems' artifacts. This technique's useful for working with the software development process and creating object-oriented software. In addition, you can use graphical notations in UML to represent a software project's design. This technique also helps you to validate the software's architectural design.

Data flow diagram

A data flow diagram represents the information flow through a system or process. It also includes data stores, data inputs and outputs, and different subprocesses through which data moves. You can use these diagrams to visually represent processes and systems that may be difficult to explain in text. The data flow diagrams use standardized symbols and notations to describe different entities and their relationships. A major advantage of this technique is it helps you easily identify a system's shortcomings by visualizing all its elements. You can then eliminate them to help you create a robust solution.

Role activity diagrams (RAD)

Role activity diagrams are modelling techniques that highlight people's roles in each development process step. These diagrams essentially capture an organization's dynamics and structure. With these diagrams, you can group activities into units of responsibility. In addition, activities are basic parts of a role. As a result, you may perform these activities in isolation or together with other activities in the role.

Gantt charts

You can use Gantt charts in project planning to represent scheduled tasks and their timelines visually. These charts help you identify tasks and their due dates. A major advantage of using Gantt charts is that they allow you to see all tasks' start and end dates in a single view.

Related: 8 Types of Project Charts for Effective Project Management

Integrated definition for function modelling (IDEF)

The IDEF technique uses a box to represent the functions of a process. This technique represents the relationships between child and parent systems. The integrated definition for function modelling helps you properly understand an organization's system by providing a blueprint.

Gap analysis

You can use gap analysis to analyze the performance gaps in a software application to determine whether you met the business requirements. This technique involves various steps to ensure you successfully meet those business requirements. The gaps represent the difference between the present and target state. Software developers refer to gap analysis with different terms such as need assessment, need analysis, or need-gap analysis.

Common challenges of identifying a project's requirements

Here are some common challenges you may experience when identifying a project's requirement:

Stakeholders don't know what they want

One of the major challenges of requirements capturing is identifying what stakeholders and end users want. In some cases, end users may have a vague idea of what they want. They may know what they want but struggle to communicate it clearly in other cases. As a result, it's essential to ask the right questions to help you identify the necessary requirements. You also want all key stakeholders to agree to the requirements before you commence the project.

Poor communication between teams

The difference in technical expertise between engineers, project managers, stakeholders, and end users may make communication difficult. As a result, it's essential for you to establish clear communication channels to foster communication between team members and other parties. Also, when there's disagreement or conflict, your responsibility may include acting as a mediator and communicator between the parties involved.

Related: How to Become an Effective Communicator

Requirements may be dynamic

Another challenge to requirement capturing is the changing nature of requirements. The stakeholders may change their minds regarding some requirements as the project progresses. In addition, trends may affect the initial conditions, which may require a new solution. Consider having a flexible system to help you easily adapt to changing situations. You may also have backup plans and change management processes to accommodate necessary changes.

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