As a business owner who commissions building a system or an application, you probably know more or less what you expect from the final solution, what are your key objectives, and both short- and long-term business goals. It is vital for your software development partner to have deep understanding of all this as well.
That’s why preparing a good specification for your project is one of the most important things to do before starting the development process. In this article, we’ll share tips on how to prepare a specification for a software project - and how to make it perfect!
Software project specification - why it’s so important?
Project specification is a document that collects all the business and functional requirements of the software solution. A well-prepared specification is a solid base for proper time and cost estimation, and successful product development. Primarily, it should consist of these elements:
▶ The key purpose of the project (What do you want to achieve?)
▶ Description of the main functionalities of the application (What it should do? How it will solve the user’s problem?)
▶ The expected results after the launch (What are your business goals? What kind of response from the users you’d like to receive?)
▶ Possible risks and limitations (Is there a non-extendable deadline? Do you have a limited budget?)
This set of initial requirements makes it possible for designers and developers to better understand your needs, and as a result, prepare a relevant cost and time estimation - and eventually build the app in line with your vision and the user’s needs. Project specs can play a role of a comprehensive guide for the whole team during the development process, and quickly provide an answer if any questions arise.
As you can see, preparing the specification is a fundamental part of digital product development, as it can determine the outcome of the project. However, writing it all down is not an easy task. It requires time and effort, but if you commit to it at the beginning, it will definitely pay off. Not only you’ll be able to structure your vision more clearly and set relevant goals, but also you will save time and money in the development process, not wasting your resources on app features you didn’t really need.
How to prepare a perfect specification
A good project specification should consist of clear and direct guidelines for the team that will build the application. Put simply, the specification should be:
■ Complete – it has to comprise all the necessary information about the project.
■ Articulate – the vision of the project shouldn’t be a blurry one (“the best e-commerce application in the world!”), but a clear-cut one (“the app should have the following features: online payments integration...”).
■ Consistent – without mutually excluding requirements, and with clearly defined terms used throughout the document.
■ Measurable – it should include goals that can be measured with hard data (e.g. what you want to achieve with the app – how many users, how many subscriptions, etc.).
■ Realistic – or in other words, it should correspond with your budget and timeframe, as well as technical capabilities.
As for the technical part, you can always count on a reliable software development partner. We’ll gladly share our expertise and give you advice on optimal tech solutions for your project, and suggest any possible improvements to the specification.
The key elements of a project specification
Although the final shape of the specification may vary depending on the individual character of the project, there are 5 essential elements a good software project specification should always include:
1. The main goal of the project - description of what you want to build and what kind of results you anticipate.
2. The software’s purpose – what it should do, what kind of problem it will solve for the users, and by what means.
3. The target group - precise characteristics (ideally personas) of people who will use the app (their age, occupation, experience with technology, typical behavior, problems they face, etc.).
4. The list of features – clear indication of everything the app should offer to the user, including the elements of the interface and technical functionalities.
5. The business objectives – description of the required impact on your business growth and revenue.
We like to say that planning is usually half the work – and it applies perfectly to writing software project specification. A well-prepared specs answers the key questions related to the project, which makes the work more efficient. Even though writing a project specification can be challenging, you can always seek for support from an experienced software development partner. Working on the specs together can speed up the process and help the team better understand your idea.