Gas in the tank and four wheels on the car are key requirements for driving to the grocery store. Ideally, you will also stop at red lights and fasten your seat belt. However, despite their obvious importance, these requirements are not key. You can get to the store without stopping at red lights or having a seat-belt on, but you absolutely won’t get there without gas or wheels. That’s the difference between a key requirement and a normal one.

Overview: What are key business requirements?

In the context of lean and effective management practices, the term “business requirements” describes any measurable criteria or defined parameters of a project, process or solution. A key business requirement (KBR) is an established goals, objective or limit that determines success or failure. They are the minimums and maximums, the baseline expectations or quality control standards that you can’t do without.

4 benefits of key business requirements

Identifying key requirements for your business processes and solutions has numerous benefits. They ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards an informed solution that addresses the core needs of the issue or objective.

1. Establish integrated success framework

The first major benefit is developing a single, unified and cohesive framework shared by everyone involved in the project or product development. This minimizes confusion and ambiguity by providing a central source of expectations, problem reporting and quality standards.

2. Set fixed goals

Removing ambiguity from the project parameters is a big deal. Fuzzy goal lines can cripple motivation, cause confusion and lead to uncertain outcomes. Specific, quantifiable limits, standards and limits are useful in any situation, whether you are designing software or setting profit goals for a new branch office.

3. Maximize your strengths

Another reason to identify and develop key business requirements is to hone your strengths. This process reveals the features or facets that drive value. You’ll know what parts are the powerhouse moving you forward, which means you can focus on improving and building that value.

4. Minimize your weaknesses

On the flip side of that coin, it also helps you identify critical vulnerabilities. If parts of your product or process are dangerously close to breaching or failing a key requirement, it’s a sign you need to shore it up. Design your processes to meet key requirements comfortably and reliably to stay out of the mud.

Why are key business requirements important to understand?

Understanding these requirements is important because they represent the essential standards of your business model, project parameters or product development. They are the indicators that determine a great success or total failure, so you need to know about them.

1. Maintain competitive advantage

Knowing key requirements means understanding your competitive advantage. Some parts of your business are too important to sacrifice, even for the sake of efficiency. For example, if your customers prefer you over competitors because of prompt delivery, it would be dangerous to cut your delivery department down for efficiency at the expense of speed. You don’t want to dull your edge when streamlining the organization.

2. Think like a user

You can learn a lot when you approach your business, product or service like a customer. Since this is exactly what you need to do when identifying a key business requirement, you should be prepared to bend your mind and perspective a little bit. Key requirements often revolve around what solves the users problems.

3. Manage crisis potential

Understanding your key business requirements also has implications for crisis management. Once you know what you can’t afford to lose, you can take steps to ensure you don’t lose them. Preventing a crisis is always better than solving one.

An industry example of a key business requirement

A certain branch of a nation-wide company has been reporting losses for many years. In an effort to streamline total profitability, the branch is subject to performance auditing in order to render profitable operation within two years. The stakeholders’ key requirement of this process is causing revenue to exceed expenses by the end of the second year. Failure to reach this goal means closure of the branch and redeployment of personnel to other locations.

3 best practices when thinking about key business requirements

Setting key requirements for your business or a particular project needs planning and research. Developing these standards properly is very important, so think twice and tread with caution.

1. Conduct a full performance audit

The first major step in identifying and establishing key requirements is to conduct a complete performance audit. Interview people from each department and those performing each basic role in the process. Use this information to create a detailed workflow chart that includes all relevant business capabilities and the systems that support these capabilities.

2. Involve customers or consumers

Since key requirements often depend on what customers need or expect, you should definitely include them as well. Set up focus groups of users, or potential users, and ask them lots of questions. Include trial runs and experiences with the product or a theoretical model when appropriate.

3. Include contingency plans

As you set the key requirements that determine success or failure, include specific plans for how you will address failure if it does happen. Outline how you will troubleshoot or try to improve the process or product. Or, if you plan to scrap the whole thing, establish a framework for dismantling and liquidating what remains of the failed solution ahead of time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about key business requirements

How do I find my key business requirements?

To identify specific requirements, start by looking at the business from two distinct perspectives: stakeholder and user. From a stakeholder’s perspective, a product or process must produce a certain return on investment in the form of brand value or profit. From the user’s perspective, it must deliver on certain promises and quality standards that solve the problems they face.

How do I document a key business requirement?

Documenting requirements can be a difficult task, but it’s an essential one. You should always gather as much information as possible through research, personal interviews and general data collection. Use definite numbers and simple language when writing to ensure clarity for all readers. Include charts and graphs to display key points when appropriate.

What is the difference between BRD and FRS requirements?

A business requirements document (BRD) is typically oriented from a top-level perspective. It focuses on the stakeholder perspective and covers broader processes and goals. The functional requirement specifications (FRS) document is much more detail-oriented and emphasizes the specific value and features of the project, product or service.

Unlock potential with each key business requirement

The difference between a key requirement and a normal one can be small, but the implications are huge. You need to know and master this distinction, because it’s the fine line that separates the absolute from the flexible. It cuts to the heart of your operations by revealing the vitals that separate failure from success. You should always keep your eyes on this line if you want to truly unlock the potential of your organization through smart streamlining and effective management.

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