Building Non-Functional Requirements Templates

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Building Non-Functional Requirements Templates

Eliciting, authoring, and managing non-functional requirements (NFR’s) can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Most people who read the previous sentence will likely agree 

NFR creation can be a difficult task and creating non-functional requirements that are both quantifiable and measurable is an issue we’ve seen many teams struggle with.  

Building great non-functional requirements is however, worth the effort. 

Customizable Reports in Azure DevOps

Non-functional requirements provide teams with a means to gauge the success of a project, process, or system. They allow your team to capture measurable ways with which you can discuss, analyze, and evaluate the different attributes of your project. 

Because of the value NFR’s provide to a project, we often see teams engaging in long and complicated processes to create NFR’s that are barely meaningful or relevant at project end.  

Today, we’re going to change that. 

In this article we cover both the value of creating NFR’s, as well as show you how you can employ some simple tools and techniques to reduce the time required for quality NFR creation. 

Why Are Non-Functional Requirements Worth Building?

Non-functional requirements provide your team with all of the success measures of a product, project, system, process, or application. When a good non-functional requirement is created, a team will be able to not only identify if a project is successful but will also be able to easily identify how far from success a project might be.  

Great non-functional requirements can be instrumental to a project’s success in many different ways aside from being a success measure. NFR’s can help teams understand the overall goals of a project, help align the project’s outcome with business goals, and much more.  

Suffice it to say that quality NFR’s can contribute greatly to project success, and the way we evaluate that success. But that doesn’t mean they are easy to manage, elicit, or author.  

Let’s take a look at the primary technique teams use today to build better non-functional requirements faster.  

The Primary Technique for Building Better Non-Functional Requirements Faster - Templates

When building non-functional requirements, teams implement templates in order to create these work items more quickly with greater consistency.

By definition, a template is anything that serves as a model which others can copy and reuse.  

Typically, templates are created as a pre-set format for a document, file, or simply the format every NFR can be created using. Once implemented, the format provided by a template does not need to be recreated every time it is needed, and users can simply pull up a template and get started quickly.  

This leads us to the most obvious benefits of using non-functional requirements templates 

Templates save time and increase consistency! 

When teams begin building a repeatable process, they often turn to templatein order to remove the need to constantly recreate document or file formatsInstead, reusing the same pieces of a document, file, or structure as a template allows your team to reduce rework and capitalize on the benefits of greater consistency. 

While time being saved and consistency being increased are great direct benefits that templates provide, there are many not so obvious indirect benefits that templates provide as well 

The Indirect Benefits of Non-Functional Requirements Templates

The largest indirect benefit from using templates is the ability to create a simple to follow, structured approach to building files, documents, and requirements.  

By providing a templated structure, users who interact with a given file or document have an easier time identifying where to input each specific piece information, and what format that piece of information should adhere to.  

This type of direction not only improves the accuracy of the content of being worked on, but also reduces the time required for NFR creation, document reviews, and requirement approvals. This is in part since supplying a template also increases standardization and use familiarity with the asset being created. 

Templates create a two-fold level of simplicity in regard to NFR work items. Building the work item is simplified as data just needs to be input within the correct fields of the template. Additionally,  the template presents information in a more consumable fashion once the work item is built.

 As the process becomes simpler, it also becomes more approachable.  This means templates also make NFR’s and their documentation easier to create for new, or less familiar, Business Analysts. 

This discussion of templates, however, might have already started to give off a sense ambiguity. 

Are we talking about employing templates for documents?  

Are we talking about employing templates for NFR creation? 

Are we talking about employing templates that outline the properties of an NFR? 

Put simply, yes. 

A non-functional requirements template could be used in any of these areas to bolster your non-functional requirements authoring, elicitation, and management. 

An NFR template might be used to organize and manage NFRs, help a team with document creation, or even in the actual construction of NFR’s.  

If you’re looking for a simple method to construct high quality NFR’s, check out our Two Simple Steps to Creating Non-functional Requirements article found here! 

Whichever way your team uses templates to build NFR’s, you can rest assured that building non-functional requirements yields an incredible return and can be done faster and easier than ever before. 

Properly Equipping Your BA’s With Elicitation Templates

Requirements elicitation, or the gathering of requirements, has never been a simple process. It is however, something that many people encounter every day in the work place.  
For example, if someone asks you to build or complete something you might ask some questions. What should this thing do (functional requirement), and how should this thing be in terms of security, usability, or accessibility (non-functional requirement).  

A well-equipped business analysts (BAwill similarly ask questions that are designed to tease out the necessary functional and non-functional requirements of any project, process, or system. BA’s primarily use questions as their medium of engagement with Stakeholders. Through this type of close collaboration with Stakeholders, BAs create a forum that helps Stakeholders express what it is they want from their product.  

During a conversation with a BA, a Stakeholder will express what features they want and what their product should do (functional requirements) as well as how they want the user experience to feel (non-functional requirements).  

BA’s often employ several time-tested elicitation techniques when engaging with Stakeholders. During the elicitation process some of these techniques might include: 

  • questionnaires 
  • mind-map brainstorming  
  • use cases creation 
  • document creation and review
  • and more… 

Each of these techniques have two things in common.  

  1. First, they all are used for the elicitation of requirements.  
  1. Second, each of these techniques can capitalize on the use of templates.

Let’s think about how questionnaires can benefit from becoming, or using, templates. 

We know that to elicit the proper requirements, the proper questions must be asked.  
This is where the knowledge of a veteran BA becomes a greater asset, as they have been through the elicitation process numerous times. They have the benefit of experience and may know better which questions to ask in relation to specific industries, products, or technologies.  

This experience and knowledge can be easily captured with a non-functional requirement questionnaire template. Experienced BAs can compile well-thought-out question lists or question templates that will focus on specific functions (FRs) or system attributes (NFRs), and passively guide the team’s elicitation process even if they are not directly involved 

These questionnaire templates can then provide structure and consistency to the elicitation process, ensure the correct questions are being asked, and also reduce the likelihood of important questions being missed.   

There are plenty of examples where templates can help teams benefit from the knowledge they already have within their team. 

Let’s look at more examples of how templates are being used today in different elicitation and authoring tasks.  

Why Teams Have Historically Used Tables as Requirements Templates

Many teams continue to implement non-functional requirement templates in the form of a table to author and house requirements. 

The use of tables typically stems from the needs of users to organize and maintain their requirements in one place.  Before the use of explicit Requirements Management tools, table were used to help define naming and numbering conventionsto help track and trace requirements, as well as help by providing fields for any number of properties. 

Tables have historically worked well as templates as they are simple to organize and make it easy to manage the content within the tableTables have traditionally held the added benefit of providing an approach to export the information from table to other areas such as document creation.  

What is that export approach? Copy and paste.  

For teams that use tables as templates, the requirements typically get copy and pasted from table and are then inserted into document. Typically, the requirement is copy and pasted field by individual field into a template designed specifically for the document (another example of templating!) 

But while tables used to be a robust solution for managing requirements that contain a variety of fields, they have some significant downfalls in today’s world of explicit RM tools. 

Tables are often disconnected compilations of important information and can often be siloed off from other tools and processes. Often this results in tables becoming an extra step in your RM process, and extra asset that someone has to take ownership of to manage, update, and maintain.  

But this doesn’t have to be the case.  

With Microsoft’s Excel Team tab extension, teams can easily connect the tables they have used in the past with their Azure DevOps project. They can easily map every requirement field, property, and identifier to the Azure DevOps work item that gets created in their project. 

But how does Azure DevOps help with NFR’s? 

How Does Azure DevOps Handle Non-Functional Requirements?

First, Azure DevOps is flexible.  

Microsoft’s ALM platform allows you to easily add any types of work items your team needs to a project.  

Non-functional requirements are just one of the work item types you can add to a project.  

What is a “work item type”?  

Work items are an ADO-based authoring template for the type of requirement they represent.  

Some examples are functional requirements, transitional requirements, user stories, or even non-functional requirements. Whatever taxonomy your project requires, Azure DevOps will support it and each of the work items you create will have their own set of properties, states, and relationships which can be chosen and customized. 

With a non-functional requirement, you can configure any fields or property that your team requireto help with the management of your project. As mentioned previously, mapping the requirements you already have in a table is simple with the Microsoft Teams tab Excel extension [provide link].  

But what can you do with NFR’s once they are in Azure DevOps (ADO), and how does migrating the creation of NFR’s to ADO help your team? 

Let’s look at the tools.  

Modern Requirements4DevOps: Smart Docs – Customizable NFR Document Templates

The creation of documents depends on an organization’s policies, processes, expectations, and requirements of the stakeholders, and can even be built to house your non-functional requirements. 

Documents provide an easy way to create accountability for meeting the agreed upon requirements for a project. They afford a level of security for the stakeholders as documents can act as a checklist for agreed upon requirements, which can easily be cross-referenced to determine if stakeholders are getting what they paid for or if work was not completed. 

Another major benefit of proper documentation is that requirements often evolve throughout a project’s lifecycle. A requirement might become more clearly defined later in its life, or it might simply evolve in a manner that yields different expectation of your product.  

Queue the addition of non-functional requirement documents to your process. 

As requirements evolve, so too will the expectations for your project. This means the success indicators of your project, a.k.a. non-functional requirements, will have to be reviewed and changed.  

Using our Smart Docs module of the Modern Requirements4DevOps suite, a user can easily construct a fully versionable requirements document directly from their Azure DevOps project. This means users can easily make, and track changes to requirements from a user-friendly document interface.  

New requirements can also be easily created in your project from within a document’s interface, or you can choose to insert existing requirements directly into your document. This means you can easily drag/drop your non-functional requirements directly into an easily exportable document without leaving Azure DevOps and without a need for copy/paste.  

Let’s extend the idea of importing your existing NFR’s that live in tables into Azure DevOps, and then cover how you can turn these NFR’s into documents using Modern Requirements.  

First you import into Azure DevOps your non-functional requirements from your table using the Microsoft Team tab extension for Excel. Then you simply query all non-functional requirements and drag/drop them into your document.  

It’s that simple.  

But let’s say you now want to add structure to a document so that non-functional requirements can only be added in specific areas of the document.  

We support that too! 

There is a template designer built directly within the Smart Docs module, that helps you dictate what work item types are allowed where in your documentsThis means anyone building a document, NFR-based or otherwise, can easily adhere to the structure your template provides and create consistent documentation. 

Modern Requirements4DevOps: Smart Docs – Reusable NFR Document Templates

Reusable document templates are an asset to any team.  In fact, you likely already use these today.  

A reusable document template provides your team with an already populated document that lays out what a document should look like. This type of template helps authors easily figure out where specific information should go, and what contextual elements should make up the document created.  

Think about that Word document you already have on your Desktop. It likely already has a placeholder for things like Introductions, Scope, Goals, as well as where you should put specific requirements. This is a reusable document template.  

The main reason document templates are used is to increase efficiency and cut down on rework within the document manufacturing process.  

Luckily for teams who currently use multiple applications for their RM and documenting processes, there is a solution that can be used for both. Modern Requirements with Azure DevOps.  

The reusable document templates you create with Modern Requirements + Azure DevOps, can be configured to hold any field or property you need to show within your document. You can save any document as a reusable document template, which can automatically populate fields such as Introduction, Goals, NFR Requirements, and more. 

You can build documents in just a few clicks that can help your team get started quickly when building any sort of documentation! This means your team can benefit not only from your documents and requirements living in the same space, but also increase efficiency, create structure, increase accuracy, and create consistency within your document creation process.   

Modern Requirements4DevOps: FAQ Module – Customizable and Reusable Questionnaire Templates

Non-functional requirements are much more abstract than their functional counterparts.  

This makes them harder to draw out as you’re not simply pointing at the system and telling it what to do, instead you are asking questions about how the system should be and using NFR’s to represent that. 

As discussed earlier in this article building strong NFRs are based on asking the right questions.  

So, what if you are new to requirements management or have little experience? Where do you start? MR4DevOps addresses this situation with our comprehensive FAQ module.  

The FAQ module is a series of focused question templates directed at specific system attributes which are categorized by the three primary aspects of the product; operational, revisional, and transitional.  

Additionally, the FAQ module contains question templates for the elicitation of NFR for compliance and risk based medical device development. As users answer the questions from thtemplate, they automatically create a non-functional requirement directly into the Backlog. 

The questionnaire templates included in the FAQ module are beneficial to BAs with all levels of experience. Veteran BAs can modify existing lists by adding their own questions or create their own question list from scratchBy doing so, BA’s are able to capture their experience and knowledge of the elicitation process and pass it along to other members of the team.  

Modern Requirements4DevOps: Smart Report – Configurable Report Templates

MR4DevOps provides a great solution to one of ADO’s major oversights; the lack of an integrated reporting tool.  

When using tools like FAQ, or Smart Docs, to author and manage your non-functional requirements, Smart Report will be the tool that you use to output your requirements. Smart Report allows you to output requirements as PDF, HTML, or Microsoft Word where you can apply your own predesigned header/footer and even Table of Contents or title page as well.  

Looking to make a report for your project’s NFRs?  

The Smart Report tool is equipped with an advanced report template designer. The template designer allows you to build and save custom report templates based on work item type. This enables you to build a unique NFR template that shows whichever properties and fields of an NFR that you wish to include in the report; this information is pulled directly from the work item! 

This template can be applied to any group of selected or queried NFRs and used whenever you are required by your reporting process. The benefit of the reporting tool is it empowers you with the ability to create instant, structured, and consistent requirements reports. 

Interested in Seeing for Yourself?

Modern Requirements4DevOps offers several solutions to assist with the elicitation, authoring, and management of non-functional requirements. 

Would you like to have a closer look into designing templates with Modern Requirements or interested in finding out what other tools can improve your process? Book a product demonstration today!

Experience for yourself how our Modern Requirements toolbox can empower Microsoft’s industry leading Azure DevOps into a single application requirements management solution.

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Creating Non-Functional Requirements Documents

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Creating Non-Functional Requirements Documents

In this article you will explore documenting non-functional requirements with the goal of building an understanding of what documentation is and why we build documents.

What is a Non-Functional Requirements Document?

Documentation is an important part of the requirements management process. The purpose of a document is to output specific information about a project to be shared with stakeholders. Like many aspects of requirements management, documentation isn’t a standardized process. Teams approach documentation in several ways. How, when, and which documents are implemented within a process varies from team to team.  If documentation is part of your process however, you’ll likely create a variety of document types and revisions to these documents over the lifetime of a project. 

The main purpose of documentation is to inform. However, documentation has some indirect advantages. For instance, documentation provides accountability. Documents are an easy way to create accountability for yourself to meet the requirements that were agreed upon. From the stakeholder’s standpoint, documentation adds a level of security as these documents act as a checklist for agreed upon requirements. Documentation can be used to verify if work was not completed or if they are being delivered what was paid for.

Another advantage to documentation is it allows teams to monitor the scope of requirements throughout the life of a project. Over the lifespan of a project requirements evolve. An individual requirement, for example, might become more clearly defined later in its life. As documents are recreated or updated over the course of the project, requirements can be compared between document versions. This enables members of a team to identify requirements that may be deviating from their original scope.

There is no standardized document that is built specifically for non-functional requirements. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t build non-functional requirement specific documentation within your own process. Instead, non-functional requirements are typically included within a larger document type.

Several requirements documents exist which are built to highlight specific details of a project. For example, documents can be built for business requirements (BRD), technical requirements (TRD), and numerous other aspects of requirements management.

In relation to the documentation process, non-functional requirements are usually included within functional requirements documents (FRD), product requirements documents (PRD), and software requirements specifications (SRS) documents.


Document Types

Let’s take a basic look at a few of the document types listed above that include non-functional requirements to develop a better understanding of why these documents are created.

Functional Requirements Document (FRD)

The Functional Requirements Document is a formal Statement of an application’s functional requirements. An FRD is typically complied by a business analyst based on several interactions with clients and stakeholders with the goal of requirements elicitation. The creation of the FRD is conducted under the supervision of the Project Manager. 

Non-functional requirements are typically found within their own section in an FRD. This section usually follows the functional requirements and will be labeled “non-functional requirements”. However, in some documents non-functional requirements may be categorized by system attributes (such as ‘Operational Requirements’) or listed under terms like ‘Non-Business’ requirements.  

  • Essentially a “contract” between product/system developer and client
  • Developers are held accountable to the requirements in the document
  • Demonstrates the value of product/system in terms of business objectives and processes
  • Leaves no room for anyone to assume anything which is not stated
  • What the application should do NOT how it works
  • No reference to specific technologies

Product Requirements Document (PRD)

The Product Requirements Document is typically composed by the Project Manager.  The PRD is used to communicate to the testing and development teams what functionalities are required to be in a product release.

Keep in mind the differences between functional and non-functional requirements. Non-functional requirements do no direct a product in terms of what the product should do. They address product attributes which determine how a product feels and other technical specifications that contribute to user experience. Product Requirements Documents are granular. The intent of these documents is to provide the overall direction for the product. Therefore, functional and non-functional requirements are addressed within their own sections of a PRD.

  • Establishes a product’s purpose, features, capabilities, and how it behaves
  • Defines user profiles, goals, and tasks
  • Drives the product teams’ efforts related to sales, marketing, and support
  • Product functionality addressed in document is supported by use cases
  • Serves as the document of record that a release is based on

System Requirements Specification (SRS)

A System Requirements Specifications document is created to illustrate and describe the features and behaviors of software or a system. In most cases, SRS documents are written by System Architects or Product Owners who are experts in the domain. However, during the initial requirements gathering process Product Owners work alongside clients.

Non-functional requirements are once again found within their own section within the System Requirements Specifications document.

  • Describes the functionality the product needs to fulfill all stakeholders/business/user needs
  • Acts as a basis for all teams involved in development to follow
  • Provide a basis for estimating costs, risks, and development scheduling
  • Built to assess requirements before the more specific system design stages with a goal of reducing rework
  • Contains critical information related to: development, QA, operations, and maintenance.
  • Acts as a development checklist; helps to inform decisions about product lifecycle (the need for change to existing requirements to meet user/whatever needs)
  • Prevent project failure

Why Include Non-Functional Requirements in Documents?

The real issue with the documentation process in requirements management is lack of standardization. Certain document types are more common than others. However, the structure and contents of these documents vary from team to team. Additionally, teams always have the option of approaching documentation on an ad hoc basis. As mentioned earlier, a team could approach documenting non-functional requirements within their own specific document.

The lack of standardization seems like a benefit that provides flexibility within the documentation process. Unfortunately, there are some negatives to this flexibility. Lack of standardization can result in non-inclusion of work items. Regarding non-functional requirements this can be detrimental to a products success as they define a products user experience.

To put this into perspective, consider a situation where you have tried two similar products. There is a good chance that you found you liked one of the two products better even though both products performed their intended functions. This is very likely because the product you gravitated to has a better user experience. User experience is driven by non-functional requirements. Building non-functional requirements that are well-defined, measurable, and testable allows teams to quickly and definitively measure the success of any project.

By including non-functional requirements within documentation provides these requirements greater visibility to be reviewed and refined. This visibility can also influence the creation and evolution of functional requirements within your document.

How Can Modern Requirements4DevOps Help Manage Non-Functional Requirements Within Documents?

Modern Requirement’s Smart Docs tool allows users to build the framework of their requirements documents directly within their Azure DevOps environment. When building a Smart Doc, requirements including non-functional requirements, can be inserted into the Smart Doc directly from the project Backlog.  Additionally, non-functional requirements can be authored on-the-fly when building a Smart Doc.

Smart Docs is also equipped with a full version management tool that empowers users with the ability to version their Smart Doc at any time. Using version management, changes to work items like non-functional requirements can be tracked by comparing versions and exported as change forms.

Review management is also integrated within the Smart Docs tool. Modern Requirements4DevOps provides a single application review solution that promotes collaboration within the team to review and revise work items. By initiating reviews, team members and stakeholders can critically review work items. Regarding non-functional requirements specifically, reviews are a critical component of the management process as these work items can be used to gauge a project’s success. Being able to conduct reviews seamlessly alongside document creation promotes a strong workflow focused on building well-defined requirements.

Is lack of standardization within your own documentation process problematic? Smart Docs provides a solution to this industry wide issue with the ability to create reusable document templates. Using the Meta Template Designer tool, Smart Docs users can customize the structure of their documents. By building a customized structure for your document, users can decide what work items can be included and where they can appear within their document. Structured, reusable document templates enforce consistency and promotes efficiency (reducing document rework) within your team’s documentation process. 

Interested in Seeing for Yourself?

With Modern Requirements4DevOps you can build requirements documents directly from within your Azure DevOps environment. Check out this Functional Requirements Document built with Smart Docs!

Experience for yourself how our Modern Requirements toolbox can empower Microsoft’s industry leading Azure DevOps into a single application requirements management solution.

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The Complete Guide to Non-Functional Requirements (NFR)

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How to Make an NFR (Non-Functional Requirement)

Your organization’s NFRs can impact time overruns, user satisfaction, compliance, and many other issues.  But knowing how to make an NFR is difficult.

It is hard because building non-functional requirements can be a major point of contention for different teams with different backgrounds and methodologies.

Even then, <customers> can struggle to manage the demands or multiple teams, third-party software limitations, organisational quirks, and other business priorities that can get in the way.

Client approval of Requirements in Azure DevOps

For that reason, this article covers what NFRs are and how to build them, with examples and templates to guide you along.

What is an NFR?

If you open the texting app on your phone, you will notice a few functions. They include texting, emojis, editing contacts, and others. They define what the app does. But these functions work because of several requirements that define how they will work. For example, texting only works if your phone is compatible with all major carriers.

These aspects that define how a system will work by laying out its requirements and limitations are called Non-functional Requirements (NFRs).

They are contrasted with functional requirements, which set the primary function of a system. If the functional requirement of your car is to seat four people in comfort, a non-functional requirement is the size of each headrest.

Why Should You Change or Add To Your List of NFR’s?

As time goes on, teams, companies, and stakeholders will notice that their list of non-functional requirements will grow and change. This is expected as the needs of an organization adapt and change.

You may need to add, remove, and change NFRs in response to organizational changes, implementation changes, or even changes in business needs.

Regardless of how small or extensive these changes may be, a team can easily identify how implementing a change might affect their success measures by re-evaluating their NFRs. Teams may notice that a small implementation change could lead to a completely new NFR that will help them identify a project’s success.

As teams continue to expand their list of non-functional requirements, you might be wondering how do they keep this expanding NFR list organized?

Teams keep their NFR’s organized by using categories with which they can evaluate overall success. A typical grouping of non-functional requirements would be:

Operational NFRs, like security, accessibility, and usability

Revisional NFRs, like flexibility and scalability

Transitional: NFRs, like portability, reusability, and interoperability

Step 1: How Do You Define Project Attributes Using Non-Functional Requirements?

When setting up a project’s requirements, you must set the following conditions:


A best practice when setting NFRs is establishing measurement benchmarks. But what do your measurement benchmarks (e.g., headrest size) work towards? Ultimately, any requirement has to work towards fulfilling larger business objectives.

These objectives can be very specific, like hitting quarterly revenue targets. Sometimes they can also be less empirical, like building a brand. In both cases, your NFRs should work towards fulfilling your company’s business needs.


Unlike their functional counterparts, non-functional requirements cover an incredibly broad scope. In defining the overall qualities, a project, system, or process should exhibit, the list of non-functional requirements can grow very large

While these non-functional requirements might not “do anything specifically,” they do  specify the attributes a system, process, or project must have on completion. You can then use these non-functional requirements to measure the overall success of a given project, process, or system, and provide measurable insights into how close to completion our project might be.

Step 2 - For Which Project Attribute Are You Building an NFR?

When building non-functional requirements, the first thing a team must consider is whether they are tackling the NFR’s that are relevant to the project. This makes the first step of the process simple.

Identify the project attribute for which you want to build success indicators. Here’s a more exhaustive
 breakdown some of the Operational, Revisional, and Transitional aspects of a project.

Operational attributes:

  • Security
  • Accessibility
  • Efficiency
  • Reliability
  • Survivability
  • Usability
  • Availability
  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Safety


Revisional attributes:

  • Flexibility
  • Maintainability
  • Modifiability
  • Scalability
  • Verifiability

Transitional attributes:

  • Installability
  • Interoperability
  • Portability
  • Reusability

Typically, business analysts, developers, and project stakeholders develop and refine NFRs.You can tune NFRs to be product oriented, addressing specific attributes such as performance (like processor speed on a phone) or the project’s costs.

Some NFRs are created to address criteria like product longevity and growth, which are based on attributes like the modifiability of a product. Other non-functional requirements could be process facing attributes that define aspects of a product such as its reusability.

Each of these non-functional requirements will fall into either the Operational, Revisional, or Transitional categories respectively.

The next step after deciding the actionable attribute is learning how to make an NFR.

Step 3 - How to Make an NFR

NFRs may be broad and confusing to grasp for some, but they are just as critical to a project’s success as functional requirements. The way we structure a non-functional requirement should indicate a few important pieces.
  1. What are you measuring? Is it an application, a system, a project, or a process?
  2. What attribute are you measuring? Is it scalability, maintainability, security, or something else?
  3. What is your goal?
  4. What metrics are you using to determine success?
You can condense these answers into one statement: “The [insert answer to A] should be [insert answer to B] so that/to [insert answer to C]” For a scalability related NFR, this statement could read:  
  • “The system should be scalable to 10,000 users within the next 2 years.”
  • “The application should be scalable to handle 10,000 concurrent logins per minute”
Whenever possible, an NFR should have both a metric and a measure.

You can also build a non-functional requirement using an operational attribute like reliability.

As always, operational attributes of a project are concerned directly with the operational functions of the project from both the system and the user’s perspective. Reliability here refers to a system’s ability to consistently perform to its specification within its intended environment.

As we are trying to establish an NFR for our system, understanding that this is an operational attribute helps us understand how we can make our NFR measurable to make it achievable.

This requires the application of both a measure and a metric where possible. Some common examples of a metric that would apply to reliability is mean time to failure, probability of failure, or a level of uptime per degree of time.

If we wanted to create a reliability non-functional requirement using our NFR template, we can ask the following questions with their respective answers

  1. Whatare you measuring?
    “We are measuring a system.”
  2. What attribute(s) are you measuring?
    “We are measuring reliability.”
  3. What is the goal?
    “We want 100% uptime in the first year.”
  4. What are the measures and metrics you are using to determine the goals success?

“Our measure is 100% uptime, our metric is uptime/first year.”

You can condense these answers into one statement:

“The system should be operational so that we see a 100% uptime for the first year of operation in order to meet our 1-year performance guarantee.”

Adding some more information about why this NFR has these criteria as above is option. But it can be helpful to link an NFR to an initiative in order give it more context.

Despite the template, it’s always possible to forget to add non-functional requirements. You should take appropriate caution in that case.

How Non-Functional Requirements Help with Standardization

There are many instances where regulatory and compliance issues require the creation of NFRs.

For instance, in the highly regulated medical devices industry, confidentiality (an operational attribute) is paramount .

Specific requirements have been well defined by The International Organization for Standardization (ISO). These well-defined non-functional requirements must be strictly adhered to during the development of any medical device.

Let’s take a look at how these ISO-mandated requirements are categorized, and discuss some tools used to build compliant NFR’s quickly and easily.

ISO 13485 – Medical Devices –Quality Management Systems – are comprised of NFRs based on:

  • Management Controls
  • Product Planning
  • Quality Process Evaluation
  • Resource Control
  • Feedback Control

ISO 14971: 2007 – Medical Devices – Application of Risk Management to Medical Devices – are requirements related to:

  • Management Responsibilities
  • Risk Analysis Process
  • Risk Control
  • Risk Management Process
  • Risk Management Report

Tools for Building Effective NFR’s

Due to the broad and complex nature of NFRs, even creating examples of non-functional requirements is a difficult task. This can be especially true for novice business analysts (BAs) and even for veteran BAs who are gathering non-functional requirements in an unfamiliar space.

The elicitation of the correct NFRs is integral to asking the right questions. To do so, BAs must use social science derived data-gathering techniques like interviews, focus groups, surveys, brainstorming, and more

The next step isn’t much easier. Coming up with an example is an issue that many novice business analysts (BAs) face. Even veteran BAs are gathering non-functional requirements in an unfamiliar space can struggle.

But by using cutting-edge tools like Modern Requirements4DevOps, you can assist users with elicitation, authoring, and management of non-functional requirements.

Modern Requirements4DevOps’ FAQ module enables users with the ability to review focused question lists based on specific attributes of each of the four aspects of a project. These question lists provide the user with examples of questions that can be asked to elicit strong non-functional requirements based on each attribute.

The tool is preloaded with over 2500 questions found within 29 topics. By answering questions, users are building their non-functional requirements. Stakeholders can answer questions  using existing backlog work items. Or users can create new backlog items right from within the module. They also have the freedom to make new questions and build their own custom question lists.

Interested in seeing for yourself?

Try Modern Requirements4DevOps today and build non-functional requirements using pre-built question lists that address topics such as ISO compliance, and more.

Experience for yourself how our Modern Requirements toolbox can empower Microsoft’s industry leading Azure DevOps into a single application requirements management solution.