What is the difference between Needs and Requirements?

Needs Vs Requirements

We often use needs and requirements interchangeably. But are these two terms same? What is the difference between needs and requirements? In this article, we are going to examine the difference with the help of examples.

What is need?

The literal meaning of need is:

Need is something which is essential or very important rather than just desirable.

So, need represents a necessity which must be addressed. A simple example is – A person is thirsty and he/she needs to quench his/her thirst. This is an example of a need.

In business terms, need can be defined as:

A problem or opportunity faced by a business or organization, which needs to be addressed

Business needs is the primary reason why organizations engage experts or consultants (like IT companies) to find a solution. We will take a practical scenario to understand the concept of needs:

Case Study

Oil & Gas Company (Small)

Norman Oil and Gas company is facing severe resource issue at its local gas agencies as people are thronging to apply for new gas connection. It is disrupting the service to existing customers as delivery of cylinders to them is getting affected.

What’s the need? The need is to find a solution to stop disruption of services at local gas agencies. The needs essentially defines – WHY do we want to do something or WHY something is important? What’s the value for the organization?

So, what is requirements? How is it different from the needs?

Difference between needs and requirements

Requirements represent the needs in a useful way so that development team or the solution team can find a solution. In other words, requirements is a more detailed representation of needs meant for the specific audience.

Let’s consider our case study. In the previous section, we looked at the needs of Normal Oil and Gas company, which was to stop the disruption of services at the local gas agencies.

How can we represent this need in a useful format for the technology team? See the requirements described below:

We need to create an alternative method of capturing the applications for a new LPG connection. Each application has to be unique and must capture  the following information:

Full Name

Contact Number(s)

Location

Family Income

Email ID

Aadhaar Number

Needs described in this form, will help the development team in designing and developing the solution.

Needs explain WHY an organization wants a solution to a problem whereas requirements explain WHAT is to be done? What are the details of the problem?

Summary

Needs and requirements are two critical pieces of any project. Needs provide the reasons to initiate the project. Requirements define the needs in a useful format to enable the solution team to find the appropriate solution.

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