“Your BRD saved our butts at least three times this year!”
– Friendly Project Manager giving feedback over a pint of beer.
The following article on business requirements document (BRD) best practices are based on a multitude of past experiences, made up of projects of all sizes.
Whether a three-week engagement or a year-long project, a BRD is crucial. No matter the circumstances, the first step is always to sit down with our client to understand and document their needs. It may be just one link in the chain, but it needs to be just as robust to guarantee success.
The BRD is the final product of the initiation and discovery phase and is used in a waterfall delivery model. By the time a BRD has been approved and signed off, almost every aspect of a given project has been: scoped, studied, documented, reviewed, corrected, and documented again.
The preparation of the document serves two primary purposes. First, it allows the business to reflect on their project as they refine their requirements. Secondly, it allows the consultants learn about the business and teach their client about the solution they will be implementing. However, a completed BRD’s primary goal is to outline the deliverables of the consulting team and the client; in addition to describing, in detail, the proposed solution. Ideally, a perfect BRD could be picked up by any solution architect to set up the entire low-level design, with no additional input.
The work necessary for a successful BRD begins long before the first written word. To deliver the highest quality project, it undergoes initial scoping. Here is when the main features are determined: the adopted solution, the number of campaigns, and any additional scoping details.
The consultant then prepares a discovery questionnaire for the client, and a workshop is set up with the primary stakeholders of the business side. The discovery questionnaire works as the main driver during the workshop where they finalize the details and the client, often for the first time, is introduced to their solution.
Thus, clear and concise project requirements are gathered and documented. These requirements are influenced by the business needs, the IT reality, and the EMM experience.
- Business Needs:
The business side contributes the exact requirements of the marketers. The marketers understand better than anyone their reality and can explain what they are trying to achieve. Without all their experience, neither the IT team nor the consultants can accurately dissect the client’s marketing strategy.
- IT Reality:
The IT side contributes to the reality of the situation and helps everyone determine what to do. They keep business grounded (running reports on responses every hour has little value if the underlying ETLs only run once a day!) and they answer important questions from the consulting team to ensure a clean implementation (the exact version of the database, the operating system, etc.).
- The Enterprise Marketing Experience:
The consultants are the ones who bring experience to the table. With our vast knowledge in Enterprise Marketing software, we can help with the preparation of use cases and provide methods that are designed to help businesses not only achieve their goals but also fully utilize the tool – and possibly do much more than they expected.
It is this combination that ensures that the final deliverable meets all the business needs. When the final document is signed, and the project design and build phase kicks off, the right conditions are now in place to make sure everything is on time, budget, and scope.