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Systems Requirements vs. Software Requirements

Image of LN Mishra, CBAP, CBDA, AAC & CCA

I quite often come across this question in my requirements engineering and business analysis workshops - Does SRS mean System Requirements Specifications or Software Requirements Specifications?

The answer is it can mean both and that's where the confusion begins. Fortunately for other kinds of requirements such as business requirements or functional requirements have distinct acronyms unlike the above two types of requirements.

We should use SRS to indicate Software Requirements Specifications and SyRS to indicate System Requirements Specifications.

What is the difference?

A Simple Requirements Classification Scheme

As we have drawn the above image, the system is a broader concept than software. Systems usually comprise 4 key elements - People, Process, Technology, and Partners.

People requirements may require aspects related to capabilities and motivation. Without the right capabilities and motivation, no project is going to be successful.

Process requirements may require processes to be re-engineered to make them more effective.

Partner requirements may require an organization to look for partners who can support current and future business needs.

Technology requirements can be primarily related to information technology or technologies which are becoming useful to businesses such as clean energy, nanotechnology etc.

Information Technology requirements, in turn, contain aspects such as Hardware, Software, and network requirements.

Hardware requirements require specifications on the processor, RAM, memory etc.

Network requirements may require specific bandwidth expectations.

Software requirements usually contain requirements with respect to functionalities provided by the system and expectations on non-functional aspects of the solution such as performance, security, and scalability etc.

However, in many instances, the hardware and network may not be affected by the project and only software is affected.

For example, we may add a new feature to an existing software solution. It may so happen that we do not affect people, processes or partners. In such a case, technology requirements equal software requirements, and system requirements equal software requirements.

However, for larger changes, typically software requirements will be the subset of system requirements.

We would be happy to know your thoughts.

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202107-Modern Analyst Poster

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