5 Preparation Tips for a Software Development Engagement

If you’re about to embark upon a software development engagement, you may be wondering about the best way to gather and communicate your requirements.   Here are five tips that will help put everyone on the same page from the start:

  1. Create a list of definitions
  2. Create a diagram
  3. List the functional requirements
  4. List the non-functional requirements
  5. Create user stories

At ExcelHelp.com, our team of expert Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and Structured Query Language (SQL) developers can guide you through the requirements gathering process.


Provide a list of all the acronyms and industry specific terms that may be used during the project, along with their definitions. Include the names of any software products or databases that you are currently using, if they are related to the project. If your team refers to them with alternate names, then be sure to include those, as well. This relatively simple task can greatly accelerate the developer’s understanding of your project and avoid potentially costly misunderstandings.


A simple sketch of your current system can go a long way in helping communicate the problem you are trying to solve. This diagram should show where data is stored (database, cloud service, Excel file, etc.), where it is processed and how it is used (reports, quotes, input to another system, etc). If you envision a new configuration, then sketch that as well.   Keep it simple to start with and add clarity later, as needed.

User Stories

Ask each person on your team to write down what they need the software to do. Here are a few examples of user stories:

  • I need to be able to login and:
    • view account information
    • run a report
    • manage authorized users
    • create a customer quote
  • I need the software to automatically:
    • Pull data from a database, process it and generate a csv file

These user stories tell the developer what the software should do on a high level. You may have a very time-consuming, cumbersome process for doing these tasks now, but try to explain that in the diagram that you create in step 2.

Functional Requirements

At a high level, describe what the software needs to do. Include the overall objective of the project and any business rules that need to be incorporated. The overall project objective might be something like this:

“provide improved decision-making support by automating the integration of data from multiple systems and generating visualizations.”

Here is an example of a business rule:

“when the scrap generated by the production process is below 10%, highlight the cell green.”

Non-Functional Requirements

Non-functional requirements clarify your expectations regarding a broad range of details concerning the application and how it will be used. Document each of the following items and review them with the developer early-on:

  • Visual Preferences: branding, color scheme, look and feel
  • Performance: how fast does it need to be?
  • Security: access levels, passwords
  • Capacity: number of records, volume of transactions, number of users, room for growth
  • Compatibility: what operating systems and platforms does it need to run on? What other systems does it need to interact with?
  • Mobility: where will the users be located? Will they have internet access?
  • Legal and political considerations

Contact ExcelHelp.com for A Free Consultation

Let our expert VBA developers help you develop and implement your software solution. Contact our team to schedule a free consultation by calling 1-800-682-0882 or visit our website at ExcelHelp.com to submit an inquiry online.