Article – How to Categorize IT and Software Development Requirements




The requirements management domain is by far the most advanced in the technology field where the requirements are (see Figure 1) traditionally broken into:

  • Business Requirements (or problems, or objectives)
  • Features (epics in the Agile world) and
  • Functional and Non-Functional Requirements (user stories in Agile)

Requirements analysts in the IT and software development fields also have tools like use cases, constraints, business rules and data definitions to better define the detailed level requirements.


Here is an example of such hierarchy. Let us assume that a small business producer of, say, scented candles decided at one point that she wants to sell them online. What is the resulting Business Requirement?

  • BR 1.0 “We need to sell our products online”

Features that naturally flow from it include but are not limited to:

  • F 1.1 "Customer Login"
  • F 1.2 “Product Catalog”
  • F 1.3 “Search Function”
  • F 1.4 “Shopping Basket”
  • F 1.5 etc.

The features are later broken into functional and non-functional requirements. For example Feature 1.4 (Shopping Basket) can be broken into the following functional and non-functional requirements:

  • FR 1.4.x “The user shall be able to add products to the shopping basket”
  • NFR 1.4.x “The process of adding a product to the shopping basket shall not exceed 1 sec”


About the Author

Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP – president and founder of Thinktank Consulting is an internationally acclaimed expert and speaker in the areas of project/portfolio management, scope definition, process improvement and corporate training. Jamal Moustafaev has done work for private-sector companies and government organizations in Canada, US, Asia, Europe and Middle East.  Read Jamal’s Blog @

Jamal is an author of three very popular books: 

  1. Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection, Scoping, Estimation and Management 
  2. Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements for Engineering, Product, Construction, IT and Enterprise Projects
  3. Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World