What Should NOT be in a Requirements Document

Everyone knows that a Requirements Document (RD) is one of the keys to developing a product that has product market fit. Without product market fit, a positive ROI is very unlikely.

We wrote about what SHOULD be in a RD here:

But are there things that should NOT be in a requirements document? It turns out there are, and they are more important than you might think.

The next step in the product development process, after requirements, is Conceptual Design (CD). CD is where all the innovation happens. CD accounts for 90% of the competitiveness of a product — cost vs. performance vs. features. See our blog here:

If the requirements document spells out the conceptual design, you will kill all the innovation in the CD phase. A RD should only specify what the product should be — not how it should be. A RD is the “what,” and the CD is the “how.”

For example, take this requirement:

“Powered by rechargeable batteries.”

If we were to take this requirement literally, the product must include a rechargeable battery. This requirement would exclude:

  1. Primary Battery that could last longer than a rechargeable one.
  2. Solar power
  3. Fuel Cell
  4. Energy Harvesting

Maybe a better requirement would be:

“Portable Power Source”

“Powered by rechargeable batteries,” tells us how to meet the requirement of a “Portable Power Source” — one tells you what to do, and the other tells you how to do it. One leaves room for innovative thought, and the other restricts your creative thought.

BTW, our Requirements Document Template is here:

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