functional requirements specificationWhat is the Functional Requirements Specification (FRS) and why is it critical to project success?

As an implementation project manager at SMBHD, I spend a lot of my time educating clients not only on Salesforce and the power of the platform, but also on the front end of the project, educating clients on IT project management, processes, and tools. This includes project management concepts tied to Agile Scrum which Salesforce considers Best Practice. Also, I teach clients on more traditional IT tools like the Functional Requirements Specification or as it is usually referred to, “The FRS.”

Despite is nerdy long-winded name, the Functional Requirements Specification, or FRS, is nothing for a client new to IT projects or Salesforce to be intimidated by; in fact, it is an empowering tool for clients. It translates both the Statement of Work (SOW) and the Kickoff/Discovery Meeting conversations, notes, and insights into a single working document that is used to clearly define the final deliverable.

When applied correctly (the way SMB does it – no bias here), it can give a client peace of mind, because after reading the FRS, they will A) clearly know what they are spending their money on, B) know what the final deliverable is going to look like, and C) what the solution is going to do once the project is complete and in production.

Put another way, the Functional Requirements Specification (FRS) is designed to be consumed by all levels of stakeholders. After reading the FRS, all readers should understand what is being built. And the best part, it requires no deep technical knowledge to understand the document. Typically, an FRS is focused on functional requirements (things the solution will do) and minimally on look-and-feel items (non-functional requirements). Non-Functional requirements are included when SMBHD creates an FRS, but the bulk of the FRS is focused on functionality (“click this and it does that”, “when collecting this data, make sure it is in this format”, etc.).

As a client, when interpreting an FRS, it is important to understand that the FRS is composed of two critical components:

  1. The “Business Requirement”
  2. The “Acceptance Criteria”

Again, both are technical terms, but they are not that complex to understand for the most stakeholders.

  • Business Requirement: Basically, a business requirement is an objective that relates to bigger goal or vision. It also provides scope on the business problem being addressed and why the problem must be addressed via the project.
  • Acceptance Criteria: Acceptance criteria are the “Conditions that the product or feature must satisfy to be accepted by a user, customer or other stakeholder.”

But it is more than that; it also must be “clear and concise”, “understandable”, “testable”, and “provide a user perspective.”

Put in layman’s terms, business requirements are why the project is important and the reason for making the investment in a project. Acceptance criteria is an easy to understand definition that every stakeholder can understand and agree or disagree that either A) “ the outcome meets expectations” or B) “the outcome does not meet expectations,” and the project can proceed or course-correct from that point.

I hope this helps, but if it does not…no worries, I will be happy to explain it to you on our next project Kickoff/Discovery call. All the best! 😊

– Stephen B. Carter, Project Manager