How to Write a Business Requirements Document (BRD)

Ensure that every project is aligned with your business goals.

Business requirements document

Behind every project, there is a business need. Yet there is often a mismatch between what was needed and what was produced. Getting the business requirements right is what can decide the ultimate success and failure of a project. 37% of companies cite inaccurate requirements as the primary reason for failed projects.

To get the desired outcome, first, it's important to accurately define it – that's where business requirements documents (BRDs) come in. It's written to describe why a project is needed, whom it will benefit, and when it will take place.

Let's dive deeper into what business requirements are and how effective BRDs are written.

What are business requirements?

A business requirement is the rationale behind the initiation of a project. It describes the overall business goal of a project from the company’s point of view.

The project in question may involve a small-scale process optimization or the development of a brand-new product. Depending on its scope, the business requirements could be a simple description of business needs or a highly complex set of business objectives across multiple domains.

In any case, the business requirements need to be clearly defined for the project to be a success.

Types of requirements

Before getting into how business requirements should be written, it's important to understand where they fit in and how they differ from other types of requirements. Although all requirements may share the same high-level goal, these terms should not be used interchangeably.

Business requirements, user requirements, product requirements, functional requirements, non-functional requirements

As the project progresses, functional requirements crystallize into features. Every feature should be focused on satisfying the user's needs within the bounds of the business requirements and goals.

What is a business requirements document (BRD)?

To manage business requirements in an effective and organized way, business analysts and project managers write business requirements documents (BRDs).

A business requirements document (BRD) is a document that describes the problems the project is aiming to solve and outlines the outcomes necessary to deliver value. It doesn't need to include the implementation details of the solution.

On a high level, the BRD aims to answer the following questions:

Once you create the BRD, all project requirements should be referenced against it. Any requirement which doesn’t relate to the business objectives listed in the BRD should be either discarded or re-evaluated.

Business requirements document example

No two BRDs look the same – depending on the company, industry, and project scope, it can be either a very long and formal document, or a simple one-pager. With the growing popularity of the Agile approach to documentation, lightweight and compact requirements documents are becoming increasingly common.

Here's an example of a business requirements document in Nuclino, a collaborative documentation tool for teams – create a free account and start writing your own BRDs:

Business requirements document example

Business requirements document example

Business requirements document template

While there is no fixed structure that a BRD needs to follow, it generally includes the following sections and topics:

Here's one example of a compact business requirements document template:

Business requirements document template

Business requirements document template

The benefits of writing a BRD

There are many reasons why writing a business requirements document is worth it:

A business requirements document is one of the first documents created as part of your project plan. As the project progresses, the BRD continues to guide every decision with regard to prioritization, design, and scope, making sure that your project remains aligned with the overall goals of the business.

But at the end of the day, whether you write a formal BRD for every project is up to you and your team. As long as the business requirements are neatly documented somewhere (like your internal wiki) and all stakeholders remain on the same page, your project should stay on track.

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