There are several different types of requirements that Users, System Engineers, and Program Managers will have to develop on an acquisition program through its life cycle. These requirements range from very high-level concept-focused to very specific for a part. The four main types of requirements that you can expect on a program are:
- Functional Requirements
- Performance Requirements
- System Technical Requirements
Definition: A requirement is a statement that identifies a product or process operational, functional, or design characteristic or constraint, which is unambiguous, testable or measurable, and necessary for product or process acceptability. (ISO/IEC 2007)
A functional requirement is a task (sometimes called action or activity) that must be accomplished to provide an operational capability (or satisfy an operational requirement). Some functional requirements associated with operations and support can be discerned from the needed operational capability (see Operational Requirements). Others often result only from diligent systems engineering. Experience in systems engineering has identified eight generic functions that most systems must complete over their life cycle: development, manufacturing, verification, deployment, training, operations, support, and disposal. These are known as the eight primary system functions. Each must usually be considered in identifying a system’s functional requirements.
A performance requirement is a statement of how much a function must be executed, generally measured in terms such as quantity, accuracy, coverage, timeliness, or readiness. The performance requirements for the operational function and sometimes a few others often correlate well with the statement of the needed operational capability developed by the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) Process. The statement of other performance requirements usually requires thorough systems engineering.
System Technical Requirements
System technical requirements are the result of both allocated and derived requirements. These types or requirements are:
- Allocated Requirements: flow directly from the system requirements down to the elements of the system.
- Derived Requirements: dependent on the design solution (and so are sometimes called design requirements). They include internal interface constraints between the elements of the system.
A specification is a detailed, exact statement of particulars, especially a statement prescribing materials, dimensions, and quality of work for something to be built, installed, or manufactured. The overall purpose of a specification is to provide a basis for obtaining a product or service that will satisfy a particular need at an economical cost and to invite the maximum reasonable competition. By definition, a specification sets limits and thereby eliminates or potentially eliminates items outside the boundaries drawn. A good specification should do four (4) things:
- Identify minimum requirements.
- List reproducible test methods to be used in testing for compliance with specifications.
- Allow for a competitive bid.
- Provide for an equitable award at the lowest possible cost.
Key Takeaways for Understanding Requirement Types
When figuring out the right types of requirements for a project or program, there are a few important things to remember:
- Knowing the difference between “needs” and “wants.” Needs are requirements necessary for the project or program to work, while wants are things that would be nice to have but are not always necessary.
- Different kinds of requirements meet different kinds of needs. For example, functional requirements describe what the system should do, while non-functional requirements describe how the system should act.
- Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound requirements are needed (SMART). This ensures they are clear and well-defined, making the project or program easier to run.
- Write Them Down: It is important to figure out and write down all of a project or program’s functional and non-functional requirements. This will help ensure the project or program is finished on time and on budget.
- Managed and Tracked: During the whole project or program, requirements should be managed and tracked to ensure that they are being met and that the project or program stays on track.
Requirement standards play a crucial role across industries by providing a consistent framework for capturing, documenting, and managing project requirements. These standards ensure clarity, completeness, and traceability of requirements, enhancing communication between stakeholders and minimizing misunderstandings. Industries such as aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and software development rely on specific requirement standards like DO-178C, ISO 26262, IEC 62304, and IEEE 830. These standards define best practices for requirements engineering, including requirements elicitation, analysis, verification, and validation. Compliance with these standards improves product quality, reliability, and safety while reducing risks and development costs. Adhering to requirement standards promotes interoperability, collaboration, and consistency across industries, fostering successful project outcomes.
- The document that defines the proper organization for all armed forces specifications is MIL-STD-961E “Defense and Program-Unique Specification Format and Content”.
AcqLinks and References:
- Requirements Development Checklist
- DAU Systems Engineering Fundamentals Guide
- Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Systems Engineering Primer & Handbook
- NASA Systems Engineering Handbook (large 9M file)
- EIA-632 “Processes for Engineering a System” – 7 Jan 99
- Website: SEBok Requirements Definition (ISO/IEC 2007)