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MS Excel and Word: Are they suitable for Requirements? | Best Practices & Complete Guide

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MS Excel and Word: Are they suitable for the Requirements? | Best Practices & Complete Guide

When it comes to requirements management, Microsoft Office is often one of the first tools that come to mind. After all, most people are already familiar with MS Excel and Word. And even if they’re not, the learning curve isn’t too steep. But are these general-purpose tools really suitable for managing software requirements? In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the disadvantages of using MS Excel and Word for Requirements Management and compare them to the benefits of using a more advanced Requirements Management platform.

What is Requirements Management?

According to Ian Sommerville, “Requirements management is managing changing requirements during the requirements engineering process and system development.”

Requirements Management is the process of eliciting, analyzing, documenting, and tracking requirements. It ensures that the right requirements are captured and that they are traceable throughout the project lifecycle.

The major purpose of requirement management is to ensure clear, concise, and error-free requirement fulfillment for the engineering team so that they can make sure to detect errors in the system and potentially reduce the project cost as well as risk.

Why not use MS Word and Excel for Requirements Management?

One of the biggest disadvantages of using MS Excel and Word for Requirements Management is that they were not designed for that purpose. As a result, they lack many of the features and functionality that would make Requirements Management easier and more efficient. For example, it can be difficult to keep track of all the requirements when they are scattered across multiple documents. And if you need to make changes to a requirement, you often have to go through each document one by one to find and update it.

Disadvantages of using MS Word and Excel for managing requirements:

  • Scattered Information – Information in Microsoft word or excel is scattered and not organized. Hence, it firstly takes a lot of time to find exactly what you need, and secondly, makes it difficult to reuse those requirements. Also, various tasks like sorting and filtering are not possible in word or excel.
  • No Traceability – Microsoft office does not allow any sort of traceability in its documentation. Hence, there is no way to get metrics, and reports, or perform impact analysis. If you must trace all the requirements in word or office, it has to be done manually which is super time and effort-consuming. 
  • Concurrent Access – When a user opens a document, it is entirely blocked. There is no way for another user to modify the document while another has it open. There are no different access rights on requirements/attributes/etc. Hence, it is not possible for multiple users to access the same document at the same time. 
  • Lack of Control & Audit Trials – In Microsoft Office, documents can have multiple versions only when managed manually, but not the information inside those documents. Also, there is no record of the changes that are made in the requirements. Hence, with no history of changes, performing activities like change control or version control is not possible. 

In contrast, a Requirements Management platform is designed specifically for managing software requirements. This means that it includes all the features and functionality you need to make Requirements Management easier and more efficient. For example, most Requirements Management platforms include a central repository where all the requirements are stored. This makes it easy to keep track of all the requirements and make changes when necessary. In addition, most Requirements Management platforms are very collaborative. This means that different team members can work on different parts of the requirement at the same time without causing confusion or making mistakes.

Overall, there are many disadvantages to using MS Excel and Word for Requirements Management. These general-purpose tools were not designed for that purpose and lack many of the features and functionality that would make Requirements Management easier and more efficient. In contrast, a Requirements Management platform is designed specifically for managing software requirements and includes all the features and functionality you need to make Requirements Management easier and more efficient. As a result, most companies that make the transition to a Requirements Management platform quickly realize the benefits it brings.

Requirements Management Tools

Requirements management (RM) is the process of documenting, tracking, and managing requirements throughout the software development life cycle. This can be a challenge, especially if requirements are not well-defined or change frequently. RM tools can help make this process easier by automating some tasks and providing more visibility into the status of requirements.

The major benefits of implementing these tools include:

  • Greater effectiveness in project management and adding accuracy to the project controlling
  • Increasing and maintaining traceability on all levels
  • Better implementation of various activities like version control, change management and impact analysis
  • Increased efficient re-use and product-line management
  • Higher ability to create baselines
  • Improved knowledge of project scope to the stakeholders

Visure Requirements ALM Platform

Visure is one of the most trusted requirements management platforms that specialize in requirements management for organizations of all sizes across the globe. The major partners of Visure include business-critical and safety-critical companies. The company integrates through the whole Application Lifecycle Management processes including risk management, issue and defect tracking, traceability management, change management, and various other areas like quality analysis, requirements versioning, and powerful reporting.  

Visure’s top features include:

Import Seamlessly – Many global organizations and startups trace and manage their requirements manually using Microsoft Word and Excel. Fast-track your team’s learning curve and implementation of Visure by importing requirements, traceability, risk, and test cases from MS Office Word & Excel into Visure Requirements ALM Platform. Additionally, teams will be able to import source code functions linked to requirements, images, tables, and diagrams. This will enable you to get a head start and easily start using modern requirements ALM tool features to measure the quality of requirements, automate repetitive tasks and increase collaboration across engineering teams.

Export Seamlessly – Visure allows you to easily export any items and reports across projects in both Excel and Word formats, which will ease your Stakeholder review and collaboration process, as well as compliance. In addition, Visure’s Report Manager allows teams to generate documents in any format with high-level customization, adding dashboards and metrics across reports for documentation or audits.

Establish Traceability and Control – Why use Visure Requirements ALM and not suit Word and Excel for your requirements? One of the key benefits is that Word and Excel don’t provide teams traceability across projects or requirements. Once you import everything into Visure, within the tool you generate an impact analysis view showcasing the traceability matrix between requirements, risks, tests, and up-to-source code functions. This enables your team to gain end-to-end traceability and control across projects, with multiple collaborators on it.

Better Collaboration – Visure offers customizable user interfaces on the basis of the project you are working on. All the information is properly organized on these interfaces allowing all the individuals to work together while remaining on the same page. 

Integration – Visure supports XML-based standards, like ReqIF and XRI, that help us in exchanging requirements between various different customers and suppliers. 

Security – Visure ensures proper security of information and requirements. We do this through our rigorous access policy where only certain people can access the artifacts even at the elementary level. 

Quality Analysis – Visure’s Quality Analyzer allows you to perform a semantic analysis of the requirements to identify the quality of the requirements. Therefore, it becomes easier to prevent the requirements from moving to the next phase in the development cycle. 

Data Models – Visure supports many development processes like Agile, V-model, etc. At Visure, we ensure to analyze the specific problems that are inherent in business models and provide a solutional data model for each specific need. These data models are customizable to relate to the client’s internal processes and can be enforced as required.

Conclusion

Requirements management is an important process in software development, but it can be difficult to get right. That’s why many companies are turning to professional requirements management tools like Visure Requirements ALM Platform. Our platform has been designed from the ground up to make requirements management easy and efficient for everyone involved. We offer a free 30-day trial so you can try out our platform and see for yourself how it can help your team create better software faster. Request your free trial today and see what a difference professional requirements management can make for your next project.

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