Functional requirements examples across different software

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Functional requirements describe what a system aims to do, meaning they're usually expressed as a list of key functions or features a software designer is then required to keep in mind. To ensure a system meets all the functional requirements, it's necessary to carry out a detailed analysis. This involves identifying all the potential inputs and outputs of the system and then designing algorithms or processes to transform the inputs into the required outputs. In this article, we look at functional requirements examples whilst also answering relevant FAQs.

Functional requirements examples

There is a range of functional requirements examples according to where and when they're used. For example, a word processing application might require the ability to create, edit and save documents, while a video editing application might require the ability to import, edit and export video files. Below are some more examples of functional requirements for different kinds of software applications:

E-commerce applications

Some examples commonly found in e-commerce applications refer to their ability to:

  • Browse and search for products

  • View product details

  • Add items to a shopping cart

  • Checkout and pay for items

  • Track orders and shipping statuses

  • Manage account information

  • Contact customer service

Depending on the specific application, there may be other requirements as well. For example, if the application includes a loyalty programme, it requires functionality related to that. Another example may refer to the e-commerce applications that sell digital goods, as functionality related to downloads and access is required here.

Customer relationship management applications

Functional requirements in customer relationship management (CRM) intend to help sales reps keep track of their interactions with customers by allowing users to create and manage customer profiles. This might include basic contact information, such as name, address and phone number, alongside more detailed data, such as customer preferences and purchase history.

A good CRM system also offers tools for managing sales opportunities. This might include the ability to track the status of each opportunity, assign tasks to specific team members and set deadlines. CRM systems also function to provide reports and analytics that give insights into the performance of the sales team. This might include metrics such as conversion rates, average deal size and win/loss ratios. These examples are important as they can help give you a better understanding of what to look for when selecting or using a business's CRM system.

Related: What are CRM systems? (Definition, key features and tips)

Enterprise resource planning applications

To be effective, enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications are often integrated with other key business systems, such as accounting and CRM. This, alongside their robust data management capabilities, helps organisations ensure data accuracy and consistency. ERP applications alone aim to support the organisational goal of efficient and effective resource utilisation. To do this, they provide businesses with the functionality to manage and track key resources, such as inventory, materials, equipment and finances. ERP applications also support various business processes related to the manufacturing of different products, supply chain management and project management.

Project management applications

Within project management applications, there are various examples of different functional requirements. For example, a project manager might require the application to allow them to create and assign tasks, track project deadlines, budget and expenditures and generate reports. Other functional requirements might include the ability to interface with other applications, such as accounting or customer relationship management software. Ultimately, the functional requirements of a project management application are unique to the specific organisation's needs using it. Some may require their project management application to have features like Gantt charts or integration with calendar apps.

Human resources applications

An effective human resource (HR) application requires a number of key functionalities. This includes the ability to store employee data and records, such as personal employee information, contact details, job history and qualifications. This data requires simple organisation and easy access so HR staff can quickly retrieve it. HR applications also require a leave management system that allows employees to request and track their leave days. This is important for ensuring employees do not exceed their allotted leave days and helps HR keep track of who is out of the office at any given time.

Related: What is a human resource (HR) professional? (With roles)

Healthcare applications

Healthcare applications have a unique set of functional requirements when compared to other industries. For example, they're required to have a high degree of data security and privacy due to the sensitive nature of patient information. This may include compatibilities with user authentication tests, such as passwords or fingerprints. They're also required to interface with various medical devices and systems, such as laboratory equipment and hospital databases. This requires the use of open standards and protocols to ensure interoperability. In most cases, healthcare staff require the use of such applications to schedule and remind patients of appointments.

Educational applications

As educational applications become more complex, so too do the functional requirements that support them. Learning management systems often require authentication and authorisation systems to control who can access which content, when and from where. They also require features that allow teachers to track learner progress, take record and give feedback on assessments whilst catering for different user types, such as instructors, students and parents. Other functional requirements might include the ability to upload or link to multimedia content, integration with other systems, such as student information systems or identity providers, and functionality specifically designed for mobile devices.

Related: How to become an online tutor

What are functional requirements?

Functional requirements are a set of specific functions that a software program performs. They're usually listed as user stories or use cases. They don't detail how the system is able to accomplish these tasks as this is the system's design. There are three types of functional requirements:

  • Input requirements: These detail the kind of data you can input into the system and how to format it.

  • Processing requirements: These detail what the system can do with the input data.

  • Output requirements: These detail what kind of output the system can produce and how to format this.

Functional requirement FAQs

Below are the answers to commonly asked questions regarding functional requirements:

How are functional requirements different from non-functional requirements?

While functional and non-functional requirements are usually distinguished from each other, there is some overlap between the two. For example, a requirement that specifies the system to handle a certain number of users concurrently may be either considered a functional or a non-functional requirement, depending on how the software designer interprets it. A non-functional requirement, on the other hand, would be a requirement specifying how the system is to perform in terms of response time and throughput. This means functional requirements specify what, whereas non-functional requirements specify how.

How are functional requirements documented?

There are many ways to document functional requirements. One common approach is to use a requirements traceability matrix (RTM). This is a table that links each requirement to the individual or team responsible for its implementation. The RTM can also track the status of each requirement, from initial development through to final testing and delivery. Another popular method for documenting functional requirements is use cases. A use case is a description of how a user interacts with a system to accomplish a specific goal. Use cases are typically written in plain language, making them easy to understand.

What is the difference between a functional requirement and a use case?

A functional requirement is a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goal that an organisation wants to achieve. Alternatively, a use case is a scenario that describes how a user would interact with a system to accomplish a specific goal. Functional requirements are more technical in nature as they describe how a system works. They may include database requirements, algorithms or business rules. Use cases are more high-level and describe the user's goals. Both functional requirements and use cases are important in designing and building software applications.

What is the difference between a requirement and a specification?

There are a few key differences between requirements and specifications. First, requirements generally deal with what the product or system is aiming to do, while specifications focus on how the product or system is going to work. Additionally, requirements are typically written before the development process begins, while specifications are usually created during or after the start of the software development process. Requirements are also more high-level than specifications. They provide broad guidance, while specifications tend to be more detailed and specific. Finally, requirements are often expressed in natural language, while specifications are often written using formal notation.

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