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Business Requirements Document – BRD


A Business Requirements Document (BRD) is a detailed, formal document that defines the objectives of a project or product development, focusing on the needs and expectations of the customer or end-user. The document serves as an agreement between all stakeholders, including customers, business stakeholders, and technology or development teams, providing a common understanding of what is to be achieved.  

The BRD is typically created during the initial stages of a project. It is often developed with input from diverse stakeholders to ensure it accurately reflects all needs and expectations.

It’s a living document that can be referred to and updated throughout the project.

Roots in the Waterfall Days

The use of Business Requirements Documents has its roots in the traditional “Waterfall” model of project management and software development. This model, which dates back to the 1970s, emphasizes a linear and sequential approach to projects, where each phase depends on the deliverables of the previous one.

Because of its structure, a detailed and comprehensive BRD is essential in the Waterfall model to prevent costly backtracking.  

Key Business Requirement Document Details

Here are some of the key details that should be included in a BRD:

  1. Project Overview and Objectives: A high-level summary of the project or product and its objectives. This should include the problem the project aims to solve or the opportunity it seeks to exploit.
  2. Scope: The scope defines the boundaries of the project. It includes what will be included in the project and what will not be included. The scope provides a clear understanding of what the project will deliver.
  3. Stakeholders: A list of all individuals, groups, or organizations that have an interest in the project or will be affected by its outcomes. This could include customers, project team members, business units, suppliers, etc.
  4. Business Requirements: Detailed descriptions of what the business needs to achieve with the project. This can include functional requirements (what the product or solution must do) and non-functional requirements (such as performance requirements, security, or reliability).
  5. User Requirements: Descriptions of the needs, expectations, and functionalities that the end-users expect from the product or solution.
  6. Use Cases: Use cases describe how different types of users (user roles) will interact with the proposed solution and what benefits they expect to gain. They represent the steps the user will take, the system response, and the desired outcome.
  7. Constraints and Assumptions: Any limitations or assumptions that are being made in the project. Constraints could include time, budget, resources, or technology. Assumptions can cover the availability of certain resources or the completion dates of other project components.
  8. Acceptance Criteria: The specific conditions that the solution must meet for the customer to accept it. This can be considered the definition of “done” for the project.
  9. Risks and Dependencies: Any potential issues or risks that could affect the project’s success and any dependencies on other initiatives or resources.

The Evolution of the BRD in Agile Methodologies

With the rise of Agile methodologies in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the role of the BRD has evolved. Agile methods focus on flexibility, collaboration, and responding to change, often working with a backlog of user stories instead of a large, static BRD.

However, the BRD is only partially obsolete in Agile.

It can still provide a valuable high-level view of the business’s needs and the project’s goals, offering a broader context for the more granular user stories.  

Business Requirements Document in Various Industries

The Business Requirements Document is not confined to IT and software development. It is used in various sectors, such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and retail.

Anywhere there is a need to define a project’s goals, articulate customer needs, and align stakeholders, you’ll find some form of a BRD.

Its universality and adaptability are part of why it is such a crucial tool in project management.

Cultural Impacts of the Business Requirements Document

On a more cultural level, creating a Business Requirements Document can foster a more collaborative, transparent, and user-focused environment. By involving different stakeholders – from end-users to department heads to developers – the BRD creation process breaks down silos and promotes a common understanding of the project.

It also pushes the organization to focus on the user’s needs and experiences, which can lead to more successful and impactful outcomes.  

The BRD is not a static concept. As organizations and technologies evolve, so do the practices around creating and using BRDs.

For example, some trends involve using more visual elements in BRDs, like process maps or prototype designs, to convey complex ideas more effectively.

Additionally, with the increasing use of AI and data analytics, future BRDs may incorporate more data-driven insights and predictive analytics to forecast user needs and project outcomes better.  

Conclusion

Despite the emergence of new tools and methodologies, the core concept of the Business Requirements Document – a means to define and align what a project needs to achieve – remains as relevant as ever.

The BRD will continue to evolve, adapt, and prove its value in project and product management. 

Business Requirements Document – 13 mins

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