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A few weeks ago, I requested info on how to approach creating functional
specifications. I've personally thanked those who responded, and now I'd
like to summarize their responses below.
Miki Magyar asked me what I meant by "functional specs"? My understanding
is that these specs describe the features or functions of the end-product
that the user/customer will use. Design specs, on the other hand, describe
how the product will be designed to create these functions (the means to
the end). Miki encouraged me to start with "both audience analysis and
information flow mapping" before attempting the functional spec.
Shay Revivo recommended finding an existing functional spec that suited my
needs and then adopt its outline as a template. Shay meets with the system
designer about important features a new product will have, and talks to
customers to determine which features they are actually interested in.
Sigrid Schoepel uses MS Word templates to create three separate spec documents:
Requirements, Functional Specification, and Design Overview. With Sigrid's
permission, I am posting most of the outline sent to me:
<begin excerpt from Sigrid Schoepel>
The client support representatives (help desk) write up a request from a
client for a bug-fix or enhancement.
The outline usually is:
Fundamental User Requirements
The programmer, client support rep, and the customer flesh out the request
and decide on the best solution.
The outline is the same as above except that Possible Solutions changes to
The designer and programmer put together this part and go over it with the
customer and client support rep to get approval for programming (most of
out clients request customized features so they have to pay for what they
<end excerpt from Sigrid Schoepel>
The functional spec is followed by a design overview for the screens and
Nancy S. Burns, Technical Writer
National Solar Observatory
P.O. Box 26732
Tucson, Arizona 85726-6732
e-mail: burns -at- noao -dot- edu
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