Re: Definition of a functional spec

Subject: Re: Definition of a functional spec
From: Anthony Markatos <tonymar -at- HOTMAIL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 12:16:20 PDT

Michelle Tohuy asks:

Anyone know a good source of a breakdown of the content of a functional
spec? depending on who i talk to here (marketing, development, quality
assurance), i get a different (but similarly vague) idea of what should be

Tony Markatos responds:

A functional spec is a clear and concise statement of the essential end user
tasks (i.e., functions) that a system must perform and how all of those
tasks interrelate (i.e., interface with each other). The specific format


1.) A function spec is a statement of WHAT the system must do, not HOW the
system does it. This is confusing because the vast majority of functional
specs focus on the HOW (and are therefore of little value).

2.) The vast majority of functional specs are WAY to complex -- they include
everything but the kitchen sink. Key concept: Upwards of ninty-five percent
(95%) of the fucntions (i.e, tasks) accomplished by the typical software
system are NOT essential (and therefore should not be include in the spec).
As systems analysts (the people who typically develop the specs) say "A good
functional spec should be so simple and straight-forward that they should
wonder what took you so long". (This is a primary reason why functional
specs are typically so long and confusing.)

Tony Markatos
(tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com)

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