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Requirements Traceability: Definition, Why it matters & Tools

Requirements Traceability: Definition, Why it matters & Tools

Table of Contents

What is Requirements Traceability?

O. Gotel and A. Finkelstein define requirements traceability as, “Requirements traceability refers to the ability to describe and follow the life of a requirement, in both a forward and backward direction”. 

In other words, requirements traceability is the process of tracking requirements throughout the development cycle. During this, a thread of documents is prepared that provides complete bi-directional visibility of all the activities surrounding each requirement. Requirements traceability is considerably helpful in minimizing the potential risk of negative outcomes and maximizing productivity.

Types of Requirements Traceability

Technically, there are three types of traceabilities. Forward Traceability, Backward Traceability, and Bi-directional Traceability. 

  • Forward Traceability – Forward Traceability is traceability from requirements to test cases. It is performed to ensure that the project moves in the right direction and that each and every requirement is tested properly. 
  • Backward Traceability – Backward Traceability is traceability from test cases to requirements. It is performed to ensure that the project moves in the desired direction and that there are no extra or unspecified features are added to the product. 
  • Bi-directional Traceability – Bi-directional Traceability is traceability in both forward and backward directions. Here, the test cases are mapped to requirements and vice versa. It is performed to ensure that all the test cases are traceable to each requirement and all the requirements specified are accurate and there are valid test cases for each of them.

Benefits of Requirements Traceability

There are various benefits that are provided by requirements traceability. They include:

  • It makes impact analysis easier.
  • It helps in making changes properly. Hence, improves product quality.
  • It also helps define the traceability links in a way that it records the reverse engineering knowledge as well. 
  • In case a team member with vital knowledge leaves the company, having complete information transparency helps a lot. It majorly reduces the risk of incorrect development. 
  • It confirms 100% test coverage via an appropriate verification process.

What are the different ways that can be used to create traceability?

  1. Free Text – When we have a set of requirements, in the end, we can just add a small section to add a set of names or codes that can help relate with the particular one. While this remains an option, it can get out of control pretty fast if you are to manage more than a few requirements. It also makes the impact analysis process almost impossible. 
  2. Traceability Table – We can also create a table that can have all the data of all the requirements. We can represent each requirement with a unique identification number and add the data accordingly. But this can be hard to maintain in the long run as the amount of data will only rise.
  3. Traceability Matrices – Matrices are a form of tables that are used to determine the completeness of the relationship between two baselined documents using many comparisons and visualizing the while traceability matrix. Though it is a bit hard when hundreds of elements are involved in the process.
  4. Traceability Tool –  Using an effective requirement management tool like Visure Solutions with specific features to establish traceability, ensure full coverage of your requirements, and visualize them in the most efficient way possible would be a good idea.

Top Tools for Requirements Traceability

The top tools that you can use for managing your requirements traceability include:

Visure is one of the most trusted ALM platforms that specialize in requirements management for organizations of all sizes across the globe. It is flexible and completely capable of streamlining the requirements processes allowing a better, more efficient, and more collaborative work environment. Data analysts can create relationships, generate hierarchies, manage traceabilities and automatically capture requirements from MS Excel, Outlook, and MS Word. Visure supports standard compliance templates for ISO 26262, IEC 62304, IEC 61508, CENELEC 50128, DO-178B/C, FMEA, SPICE, CMMI, etc. The platform integrates with several third-party solutions, such as Accompa, Jira, MS Sharepoint, and Salesforce.

Jama is a leading application for application lifecycle management that provides a great platform for risk and test management. Jama helps you minimize the risk of delay, defects, cost outrun, and the manual efforts that have been put in by the development teams. Jama assists you in building complex products and systems, improving cycle times, enhancing quality, reducing rework, and minimizing the efforts used for proving compliance. 

Spira Teams is a premium ALM platform that helps you in managing your requirements, releases, tests, issues, and tasks in a single integrated environment. It supports agile project management and methodologies such as Scrum and Kanban. It also offers an incorporated dashboard with important metrics of the project. 

Modern Requirements is a cloud-based requirement management tool that integrates with Azure DevOps, TFS, and VSTS. It offers strong traceability to project managers throughout each stage of the process. Modern Requirements works for various industries like healthcare, banking, and technology by managing their requirements for one or many projects. 

IBM DOORS is the next best requirements management tool in today’s market. The best thing IBM offers is great compatibility with other tools in the field. IBM offers flexible solutions suitable for large-scale enterprises along with high-level granularity and configurability.

Conclusion

Requirements traceability is essential for any product development and delivery. By mapping requirements to tests, test cases, and defects, you can ensure that all aspects of the product are covered, reducing the risk of surprises during or after delivery. There are many benefits to requirements traceability, including improved efficiency and quality throughout the software development process. There are a number of different tools available to support requirements traceability; some are free while others require a subscription. The Visure Requirements ALM platform offers a free 30-day trial so you can try it out without commitment. Try out the Visure Requirements ALM Platform today and see how it can help improve your product development process.

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