Non-Functional Requirements

Non-functional requirements (NFRs), also known as quality attributes or system qualities, are the criteria that describe how a system should behave rather than what it should do. Unlike functional requirements, which specify the features and capabilities of a system, non-functional requirements focus on the overall performance, reliability, usability, security, and other characteristics that define the system’s behavior and quality.

Non-functional requirements are a critical aspect of software and product development. They define the quality attributes or characteristics that a software system or product must have, beyond just its core functionality. These requirements describe how a system should perform, rather than what it should do.


Non-functional requirements encompass various aspects, including:

  1. Performance: Describes how the system should perform in terms of speed, response times, throughput, and resource utilization. For example, an NFR might specify that a web page should load in under two seconds.
  2. Security: Specifies the security measures and controls that need to be in place to protect the system from unauthorized access, data breaches, and other security threats.
  3. Scalability: Defines how the system should handle increasing workloads and user loads. It outlines how resources can be added to maintain or improve performance as the system grows.
  4. Reliability: Describes the system’s ability to function without failure or errors for a specified period. It includes requirements related to fault tolerance and availability.
  5. Availability: Specifies the system’s uptime requirements, including planned and unplanned downtime. It often includes measures to ensure high availability, such as redundancy and failover mechanisms.
  6. Usability: Defines the user experience and user interface requirements. This ensures that the system is user-friendly, accessible, and meets the needs of its intended users.
  7. Maintainability: Outlines requirements for the ease of maintenance, including code readability, modularity, and documentation. It ensures that the system can be updated and enhanced efficiently.
  8. Compatibility: Describes the system’s compatibility with various platforms, browsers, and external systems or interfaces.
  9. Regulatory and Compliance: Specifies requirements related to legal and regulatory standards that the system must adhere to. This includes topics such as data privacy regulations or industry-specific compliance standards.


The benefits of defining and managing non-functional requirements effectively are numerous:

  1. Improved User Satisfaction: Meeting usability and performance requirements ensures a positive user experience. This leads to higher user satisfaction and adoption of the system.
  2. System Reliability: NFRs related to reliability and availability help ensure that the system is dependable and can be used when needed, reducing disruptions and downtime.
  3. Enhanced Security: Properly defined security requirements help protect sensitive data and prevent security breaches. Security related NFRs safeguard the system and keep the user information protected.
  4. Cost Savings: Addressing scalability and efficiency requirements early in the development process can lead to cost savings. The savings happen by avoiding expensive unnecessary rework or infrastructure changes later on.
  5. Compliance and Risk Mitigation: Meeting regulatory and compliance requirements reduces the risk of legal issues, fines, and reputational damage.
  6. Efficient Maintenance: Well-defined maintainability requirements make it easier to update and maintain the system over its lifecycle. This increases the pace of development and reduces the cost and effort of maintenance.
  7. Effective Resource Utilization: Performance and scalability requirements ensure that system resources are used efficiently, preventing overutilization and resource bottlenecks.
  8. Alignment with Stakeholder Expectations: Clearly documented NFRs help align the development team and stakeholders on the expectations for system quality, leading to a shared understanding of project goals.
  9. General Risk Mitigation: By addressing non-functional requirements upfront, you can identify potential risks and challenges early in the project and develop strategies to mitigate them. Learn more in out section about Risk Management.
  10. Employee Satisfaction: By spending less time on bug fixing and maintenance, the employees can engage with more fun and challenging work, which leads to higher engagement employee satisfaction.

In summary, non-functional requirements are crucial for delivering a software system that meets user expectations, complies with standards and regulations, and operates reliably and efficiently. When defined and implemented well, NFRs contribute to a successful and high-quality software product.

If you want to learn more about how to make better and more effective non-functional requirements, then simply let us know.

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