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Why are Business Requirements so important?

In an attempt to purchase or review a new technology solution quickly, we have often seen the process of obtaining business requirements rushed or skipped all together.  We have seen colleagues’ base business requirements on RFP templates, other company requirements or the opinion of one person or expert in the company.

The process of obtaining concrete, true business requirements is a process that takes time, is detailed and a true representation of the needs of the business for a specific period of time.
It is important to note that BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS DO NOT PROPOSE A SOLUTION; they help define a business case. For instance, when a HR department is in the market for new technology, formal business requirements and a business case should be written to gain approval from the department head or executive responsible for approving capital expenditures. True, properly defined business requirements will show how the requirement will benefit the business usually, quantitatively.  
Very often business requirements are confused with functional or technical requirements.  Functional requirements are requirements that list what technology or a proposed solution should do. If the HR department sought approval for a large HR technology expenditure, simply based on functional requirements, there is a very real possibility that the request for funds will be denied.  Unless the functional requirements are tied back to formal business requirements and a business case, how can anyone prove that any new technology initiative is worth the expense? Simply knowing that functionally the software can manage the needs of the HR department is not enough; existing systems will still appear manageable. Functional requirements do not indicate how the software can benefit the business.

Business leaders want to know, “how will any technology solution help us meet our goal of decreasing turnover by 25% while retaining our core talent?” or “How can we reduce our total cost per hire while decreasing the number of poor hiring decisions?”

Why are business requirements so important?
1.       They will identify a true business need that can continually be benchmarked;
2.       They are a key component of a business case to gain acceptance;
3.       They prevent unnecessary confusion regarding the business need;
4.       With a proper tie to scope, they can eliminate scope creep;
5.       They provide a clear channel of communication with no ambiguity;
6.       They will be a fundamental part of approval in the business case process
Obtaining business requirements is a lengthy process that if done correctly, can enable the process of obtaining new technology more streamlined, less frustrating and easier to implement.  Please follow our blog next week for key business requirement gathering techniques!

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