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Traceability Relationships: What to Look for in a Requirements Management Tool

Change is inevitable—especially in business requirements during software development. One can never stop change, but only view it, analyze its impact, and then learn how to cope with it. Unless you get complete visibility of the change items during requirements or build a strong traceability relationship between change records across steps, you cannot drive changes in a positive direction.

The immediate challenge to most development managers is not how to draw traceability relationships between artifacts. Instead, it is how to configure and optimize the relationships in simple mouse clicks that yield maximum return. Configurability; flexibility; and the ability to define relationship types, attributes, and levels play a vital role here.

Traceability Relationships

Fig: Traceability Relationship View

Many project owners fail in these disciplines because of ignorance, lack of proper guidance, and traceabilty limitations. To make the most out of a traceability relationship, you need to set new objectives and relate them to your current capabilities. Here are some guidelines about what to look for when you’re shopping around for vendor products.

Think beyond “Out-of-the-Box” Relationships

One size does not fit all. The business requirements of an organization may contain several different types and complexity levels. You must have the freedom to define relationships between any artifacts across different ALM tools, and without writing any code.

Customization is Key

The creation of new custom entities or artifacts is a continuous process in any development activity. Are you able to create a new relation field for a new entity and establish a relationship with an existing artifact in a few mouse clicks?

Relate Anything, Any Way, and to Any Extent

A big relationship tree can have many branches. Unless you can map each of those connections in all possible cardinalities, getting a complete traceability view is not possible. Ensure that you can relate business requirements to use cases, or vice versa, in any of the given combinations—one to one, one to many, many to one, and many to many.

View and Monitor Impacts Beforehand

Data make decisions. Wouldn’t it be great if you could see impacts both before and after changes occur? This is possible only when you can view and control what particular changes will create an impact. Automated user notifications for such events is a must.

Maintain Attribute Records of Artifacts

Attribute values of a record keep changing from time to time. Are you able to capture or maintain the snapshot value of attributes for artifacts in a relationship?

The bottom line is that if  you do not know what you need, you will never get it. List all the flexibilities you require in a traceability relationship and meet your vendor like a pro.

Do you think there’s anything I left out? Please leave a comment. 

Sanat Singha is the Senior Technical and Web Marketing Writer at Kovair Software. He takes special interest in ALM process, technologies and “Tools Integration” as an industry. Sanat is also into content marketing, professional blogging, social media promotion and website analytics. Traveling, business networking and online search for newest stories on ALM are some of his key interests. Connect him at LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.