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NFRs – The Overlooked, Critical Requirements Type

When teams are refining their product backlog, the focus is usually around new features (functional requirements) and sometimes technical debt. Yet when it comes to user frustration and organizational risk, non-functional requirements (NFRs) can be far more important. NFRs define the conditions under which the system must operate, including everything from performance, scalability, and response times to security, disaster recovery, and data retention.Since NFRs aren’t typically referenced in User Stories, business analysts need to ensure they are documented and traced to functional requirements and stories.

In the Modern Requirements blog post “What does your team need to know about Non-Functional Requirements?”, Dane Crawford provides an excellent overview of NFRs, why they are important, and how to categorize and group them. Dane identifies three aspects of NFRs to consider: Operational, Revisional, and Transitional, and how to ensure these requirements are quantitative and measurable. For all analysts, this blog provides good foundational information on NFRs that can improve your practice.

Modern Requirements provides toolchain support for NFRs in their Modern Requirements4DevOps (MR4DevOps) product. With full integration to the Azure DevOps Server, it fills in the requirements management gap found in most delivery management tools. The tool gives teams four ways to manage NFRs in their products and delivery: FAQs, Smart Docs, Reuse, and Trace Analysis. FAQs are a simple way for teams to get started using and question format. Smart Docs provides a more traditional requirements management approach with requirements inserted directly into your Azure DevOps backlog. Finally, MR4DevOps allows teams to build reusable NFR libraries and trace analysis to determine impact from changes.

Regardless of which toolset you choose for NFR management, these are best practices to consider in your selection and setup.

Our Take

  • NFRs are the foundation for security, continuity, performance, and compliance. These requirements will impact operational processes and infrastructure design.
  • Build reusable NFR libraries traced to your functional requirements and/or processes.
  • By using a requirements management platform, teams can avoid rework and easily determine impacts through traceability.
  • Consider a requirements platform that integrates with other tools in your product management and delivery value chain for a 360-degree view of your product and delivery.

Want to Know More?

Interested in improving the quality and management of your NFRs and Agile DevOps practices? Consider the following research to support your transformation and maturity.

Improving requirements and quality:

Build a Strong Approach to Business Requirements Gathering

  • Poor requirements are the number-one reason that projects fail – take a strategic approach to optimizing requirements gathering in order to give the business what it needs.

Build a Strong Foundation for Quality

  • Drive product satisfaction by validating and verifying quality throughout your delivery pipeline.

Shifting towards Agile, DevOps, and Product Delivery:

Implement Agile Practices That Work

  • Improve collaboration and transparency with the business to minimize project failure.

Transition to Product Delivery

  • Stop delivering projects. Start delivering products.

Implement DevOps Practices That Work

  • Streamline business value delivery through the strategic adoption of DevOps practices.

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