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What is an FRD (Functional Requirements Document)?

Posted by Adrian M.

Article Rating // 109584 Views // 0 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Requirements Analysis (BABOK KA), Requirements Management and Communication (BABOK KA)


What you ever wondered, or have been asked, “What is an FRD?”

At the core, an FRD or Functional Requirements Document serves as a contract for formal statement, between the business stakeholders and the technology team, on an application’s functional requirements.  The FRD is generally produced by the technical team in response to the business requirements (captured in a BRD - Business Requirements Document, PRD - Product Requirements document, or some other suitable format).

The key purpose of an FRD is to bridge the gap between business and technology.  It’s where project stakeholders and the technical development team meet.  The creation of the FRD forces and ensures collaboration and address both sides of the coin:

  • Business - it restates the business requirements in terms of functional features and capabilities to be supported by the new system or platform.  This ensures the project team understands the business requirements and are on their way to implement a solution which addresses the business needs or problems.
  • Technology - it captures key technical constraints and commitments as well key interfaces to external systems

While created by the solution team, the FRD should be solution independent (in general) aka it should express what the application should do and not how it should do it.  The FRD should not commit the technical team to a specific design.

The Functional Requirements Document (FRD) is one way to express functional specifications and define the requirements and functional solution direction of software solution.  The FRD is not the only way - there are other functional specification formats and templates, depending on methodology and organizational needs::

  • Systems Requirements Document (SRS)
  • Use Cases
  • User Stories
  • High-Level Impact Assessment

While FRD templates vary, some of the more common elements of a functional requirements document are (just a suggestion):

  • Business process and workflows - provides a view of the desired target state business process models outlining which steps in the process will stay as-is and which steps will be either automated or impacted by the solution at hand.
  • Functional Requirements - these are the traditional “the system shall…” type requirements and can be broken into multiple subsections such as:
    • User Requirements
    • Regulatory Requirements
    • Compliance Requirements
    • User Interface Requirements
  • Operational Requirements - while some may be functional in nature, the operational requirements tend to focus more on administrator level capabilities and needs:
    • Role Based Security
    • Audit Trail
    • Configuration
  • Data Requirements - describe the data which needs to be supported by the system.  This section may include logical data models, data migration and conversion requirements. It is not uncommon to also see data flow diagrams describing the conceptual flow of data.
  • Non-Functional Requirements - these generally describe attributes of the system which, when done right, may never be observed by the users which use the functional capabilities.
    • Security Requirements
    • Performance Requirements
    • Capacity
    • Fault Tolerance
    • Data Retention
    • Recoverability
    • Additional sections or information which may be found in an FRD:
    • Background
    • Scope
    • List of Project Stakeholders
    • Assumptions
    • Constraints

Your turn!

  • Do you use Functional Requirements Documents?
  • How do you structure your FRD?
  • What is an FRD, for you?



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