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What is Requirements Management: Definition, Benefits, Best Tools

Requirements can be defined as the characteristics that a software system must possess to fulfill its intended purpose. Requirements management is the process of handling these requirements throughout the software development life cycle, from initial planning through to final delivery and maintenance. This includes activities such as gathering requirements, documenting them, tracking changes, and managing communication between stakeholders.

Basically, requirement management is a way of judicially collecting, analyzing, refining, and prioritizing all the products or requirements, if you will, of the development phase. 

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.

What is Requirements Management: Definition, Benefits, Best Tools

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In order to develop software successfully, it is important to have a clear understanding of the requirements from the outset. 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. In this article, we will define what requirements management is, discuss the benefits of using RM tools, and list some of the best options currently available.

What are Requirements?

A requirement is precisely defined as a condition or a capability that a user needs to solve a problem or achieve a goal. In other words, requirements are conditions or capabilities that must be met or possessed by a system in order to satisfy a contract, standards, specifications, and other formal documentation.

What is Requirements Management?

Requirements can be defined as the characteristics that a software system must possess to fulfill its intended purpose. Requirements management is the process of handling these requirements throughout the software development life cycle, from initial planning through to final delivery and maintenance. This includes activities such as gathering requirements, documenting them, tracking changes, and managing communication between stakeholders.

Basically, requirement management is a way of judicially collecting, analyzing, refining, and prioritizing all the products or requirements, if you will, of the development phase. 

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.

Requirements Management Goals

The main goal of requirement management is to embrace the change and not avoid it. Impromptu requirement management usually does no good. But during critical application development projects, it can be disastrous if the management of requirements is performed without adequate tools and mature processes. Implementation of requirement management is not an easy task in such situations. 

Well, the most important thing here is creating a perfect blend of processes and tools. Utilizing tools that essentially support requirement analysis and change management and performing processes that ensure accuracy and efficiency together make that perfect blend.

Difference between Requirements Management and Requirements Engineering

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

In other words, requirement management is collecting, analyzing, refining, and prioritizing all the products or requirements, in the development phase. 

Requirements Engineering is defined as the process of defining, documenting, and maintaining the requirements. The discipline includes all the techniques, methods, and procedures related to the definition and management of users’ needs related to the system being studied. 

All-in-all, Requirements Engineering is a set of activities that are concerned with identifying and communicating the purpose of a system or software and the context in which it will be used. 

Therefore, Requirements Management acts as a bridge between the real-world needs of the users, customers, and other constituencies that are affected by software or system and the capabilities and opportunities afforded by the software-intensive technologies. 

What do We Achieve by Implementing Requirements Management?

There are various reasons why people prefer implementing requirement management in their projects. The major ones are as follows: 

  • Faster delivery with as few as possible defects
  • Traceability and reusability 
  • Low-cost development with minimized risks
  • Ensuring proper access for the stakeholders to the requirements
  • Creating a sharable requirement repository that is more comprehensive and updated (timely)
  • Managing requirement elements
  • Precise and accurate tracking, monitoring, and reporting of the requirements
  • Easier management of changes across the development lifecycle

And supporting requirement-based testing as well as test coverage analysis.

What are Requirements Management Tools?

The requirements management tool is a tool that acts as a repository for the development teams of the product. It ensures that all the teams are on the same page with the requirements as they move further and start to evaluate where they stand at a given point of time in the process. 

Requirement management tools help the development teams by enhancing their speed of delivery, reducing the cost of production, and improving productivity as they capture everything from fundamental knowledge to real-time regulatory compliance standards.

Uses and Benefits of using an RM Tool

Having a strong requirement management tool ensures the success of a project by enabling the development teams to control the scope of the project. Furthermore, it helps in directing the project development lifecycle in the desirable direction. Traditionally, the requirements were captured manually with the help of spreadsheets. But nowadays, many tools in the market will do the work for you. 

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
  • Increased efficient re-use and product-line management
  • Higher ability to create baselines
  • Improved knowledge of project scope to the stakeholders

Overall, the requirement management tools help in executing the plan, reducing the production cost, speeding up the market, and also improving quality control.

How to choose the right RM Tool?

In order to enhance your team’s performance, using a requirement management tool is a great idea. There are a plethora of requirements management tools in the market. Hence, it becomes tricky to choose a tool that would suit your needs the best.

There are certain things that an ideal requirement management tool must serve:

  1. Supports Different Methodologies – It is important for a requirement management tool to be flexible enough to support different types of software development methodologies. It should be able to adapt and change according to the method of development itself. 
  2. Traceability – Traceability is an important aspect of any development cycle. Hence, the ability to link functional requirements to test cases and other artifacts is a very important feature of a requirement management tool. 
  3. Collaboration – It is important for the whole team to be on the same page during the development. For this, teams need a reliable tool that ensures 100% collaboration among the members. 
  4. Import/Export Feature – A requirement management tool must have a feature of importing and exporting the requirements from various different platforms like MS Excel, MS Word, and other RM tools. It is important as adding the requirements manually has a higher risk of mistakes. 
  5. Version Control – Also known as version control, is a feature that allows you to manage the changes in the requirements over time. Versioning allows you to completely retrace all the versions of requirements in the project. It is an essential feature for any requirements management tool as it helps the development team keep track of all the changes that are made over time. 
  6. Requirements Baselines – A requirement baseline is a fixed point of reference that is majorly used for comparison purposes during configuration management. The main aim of these descriptions is to provide a basis for defining the changes in the product. 
  7. Security – It is extremely essential for a requirement tool to be safe and secure for an organization. Any sort of loophole can lead to information leaks, which would be a nightmare for any organization.

What are the Requirements Management Tools we could use?

Practically, there is an abundance of great tools that helps requirements management in the market it is now difficult to choose which one is the best. Some of them are listed below:

  1. 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. Talking about price, it offers a free 30-day trial that can be downloaded from the website itself. Other details about pricing and demo can be found on Visure’s website.  The features Visure offers include:

    • Visure supports many development processes like Agile, V-model, etc.
    • It offers round-trip integration with Microsoft Word and/or Excel as well as other ALM tools like Jira
    • Enables full traceability between all system requirements and tests
    • Ensures risk and test management, and bug tracking
    • It enables managing configurations, baselines, and versioning of artifacts
    • Provides environment supporting various tools like JIRA, HP ALM, Word, Excel, LDRA, etc.

  1. IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Next

    IBM DOORS is one of the oldest requirements management tools in today’s market. IBM offers flexible solutions suitable for large-scale enterprises along with high-level granularity and configurability. IBM allows you to easily create baselines, track versioning when detailed requirements are involved, and interlink the change requests directly to the initial documents.

    The major features of DOORS Next include:

    • This provides traceability by linking all the requirements, test plans, test cases, etc.
    • The requirements management is performed through a centralized location that is accessible to all. This improves team coordination.
    •  IBM provides more scalability to address the changes in requirements management
    • There is a special test tracking toolkit provided for manual test environments in order to link requirements to test cases.

  1. Modern Requirements – famous for its renowned product, Modern Requirements4DevOps, is highly recognized as the best requirements management tool across the globe. The characteristics it provides include:

    • Artificial Intelligence enabled BA assistance – Alice
    • Provides very helpful visualization types: Diagrams, Mock-ups, and Use Cases 
    • Supports test case automation and user story generation
    • Provides online reviews and approvals
    • Provides online documentation about pre-defined templates as well.

  1. Spira Team – Inflectra introduced the Spira Team which is an integrated requirement and quality management solution. This platform is highly suggested for regulated industries where audit trials and end-to-end traceability are very important. The various features it provides include:

    • It helps to manage your project requirements and test cases
    • It also helps in planning and managing the agile software development
    • It is quite good at tracking bugs, issues, and tasks
    • It manages your source code and IDE integration for Devs
    • It is capable of working well with about 60 tools like JIRA, IBM DOORS, etc.

  1. Siemens Polarion – Siemens Polarion is a well-known requirements management tool. It is majorly used for gathering, approving, validating, and managing requirements of complex systems during a project’s lifecycle. Top features by Polarion include:

    • It helps in building test cases parallelly with the requirements
    • It also supports offline collaboration among the team members
    • It also helps manage the tasks inside the organization.

Conclusion

The only thing that should be kept in mind is that no matter what methodology you opt for, an effective requirements management implementation is an imperative part of an industry. The main target to achieve this is to minimize the cost and risk as much as possible and prepare a clear, concise, and error-free requirement report. Choosing the perfect tool is a hard task, so I strongly suggest you read the features carefully and then find the best that suits your organization. 

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