How to write a good software design doc
19th November 2018

Posted by : Fazil Loladia

Tags : Management

Managing projects of all sizes and levels of complexities is one of the most challenging parts of the business, and managing software development projects is no different. Even contrary, this is a highly complex, requiring working with cross-functional teams, people with industry-specific skills as well as those with the requisite software development expertise.

Legacy systems and infrastructure issues, often insufficient software expertise, communication gaps between different team working on a project – those all only some of the reasons why it is important to specify clearly as many details as possible prior to starting any software development project.

So, good software design documentation and the ultimate success of the project are tightly correlated. A software design document,  which is  also known as a technical specifications
doc,  is a description of how the team plans to solve a problem. According to Wikipedia, software design description (a.k.a. software design document or SDD), also Software Design Specification is a written description of a software product, that a software designer writes in order to give a software development team overall guidance to the architecture of the software project.

We now know why software design documentation is so important but how does it look like?

Depending on the type of the project, your design doc can be structured differently. However, there is a simple, commonly used format with a list of sections that you should at least include in your next software design document:

➔ Title & Other (the title of your design doc, author or authors, the reviewers and the date the document was last updated)
➔ Overview (a high level summary that all team members at the company should understand)
➔ Context​ (a description of the project and why the software is needed)
➔ Goals and non-goals ​(describing which problems you will and which ones you won’t be fixing)
➔ Milestones​ (measurable checkpoints break the project down into different milestones)
➔ Proposed solution​ (this might be technical Architecture description)
➔ Alternative solutions​ (stating what are the pros and cons of the alternatives)
➔ Discussion​ (suggested future work, open issues and similar)
➔ Timeline​ (more detailed scoping with estimations and deadlines)

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