4 Best Practices for Technical Requirements Documents

technical requirements best practices

4 Best Practices for Technical Requirements Documents

technical requirements best practices

Do you know what it takes to create a great technical requirements document? 

A technical requirements document establishes the foundation for an engineering project, ensuring that customers and manufacturing services providers are aligned on factors like budget, timeline, communications strategy, and risk management. 

But not all technical requirements documents are created equal. The last thing you want is to invest time and effort in creating one that doesn’t effectively serve its purpose. 

Guidelines for Creating a Technical Requirements Document

If you haven’t read the first installment in this series, you can do that right here. In this latest installment, let’s review best practices for creating a successful technical requirements document:

1. Distinguish features from requirements

Imagine the product you’re building has a door, and you need a way to open it. You indicate in your technical requirements document that you need a shiny knob. Here’s the issue: what you really meant is that you need a way to open the door. A shiny knob is a feature, but being able to open the door is a requirement. 

When engineering teams fail to distinguish between a feature and a requirement, they unwittingly limit themselves to one solution and, in doing so, potentially increase the cost of manufacturing services

There may be several lower-cost ways to open the door apart from a shiny knob—so it’s best to indicate what you need to do before you determine how you’d like it to be done. It’s called a technical requirements document for a reason—in most cases, you can leave the features out! 

2. Document everything

One of the most common mistakes we see is engineers failing to document certain requirements because they mistakenly assume everyone is already on the same page. 

For example, when a new version of a product is designed, every piece of information from the previous technical requirements documents that’s still relevant must be copied over into the new document to avoid oversights. Ongoing and meticulous documentation is essential to successful product development

3. Don’t give in to “design by whine”

Unfortunately, engineering teams can easily fall into the trap of what we call “design by whine”:  giving in to team members who advocate assertively for certain design choices—in some cases, choices that have already been rejected for good reason!

Maintaining an up-to-date technical requirements document can help counteract “design by whine” by providing teams with a clear record of previous decisions in service of the end goal. With full accountability and traceability, teams are empowered to nip recurring requests in the bud without wasting valuable time and effort investigating them. 

4. Seek external input

Objective outsiders with no vested interest in the project can ask the difficult questions that internal team members won’t. 

An outsider may serve the role of devil’s advocate in situations where the team doesn’t want to go against their boss or when intra-team dynamics make it challenging to speak up. This person might ask: What’s needed? What works? What isn’t working? What frequent requests create problems because they’re difficult to meet? 

If you’re looking for a manufacturing services provider to support you with product development, Alchemy Industrial is here for you. We’re experts in creating technical requirements documents and other useful assets that will set your project up for success. Request a quote today!