Advantages of Managing Requirements with Integrated Tool Sets

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Managing Business Requirements across development stages through delivery is always a critical process. It involves multiple tool systems, cross-functional team members, their varied decisions and constant monitoring of change implementations till delivery.

Using specialized tools make the job of Requirements capturing to reporting a little easier. But, again, that is not the proven solution in a distributed tool environment where team members work in different time zones.

In an ideal scenario, every project involves diverse cross-functional tools and they rarely share data among each other. With increasing project complexity and constantly changing requirements, monitoring these tool data become even more difficult. As project goals and deliverables need to be shared by diverse team members, proper collaboration among each is a necessity to manage Requirements efficiently.

requirements management in isolation

A requirements tracking system, if not connected to other development tools, may lead to excessive manual interventions and communication gaps. The results are cost overruns, delivery delay and compromised product quality – meaning total project failure.

Answering these questions will help you assess the situation in your case:

  • Are your business analysts, design architects, developers, testers and delivery managers always synced with the progress of requirements implementations and the end results?
  • Can your business analysts automatically trigger requirements review and approval process in your requirements management tool once customers submit new requirements or change requests from a web portal?
  • Can your architects start design process as soon as requirements are approved and assigned to a release without a fail?
  • Can your developers start coding using an IDE tool without waiting for architects to update them about requirements with approved design?
  • Can your testers view all the approved requirements real-time without hopping around analysts’ desks in order to start preparing test cases?
  • Can each of the team members easily view, track, edit and update requirements from their own tool setup?
  • Can a project manager easily define the relations between participating tools data and do predictive analysis of change impact on other tools?
  • How confident is your delivery manager about the final product to cover all the last-minute changes suggested by a client?
  • How many man hours you could have saved if accessing product requirements involved minimum manual interactions for project stakeholders?

Let’s explain these problem statements through a sample scenario.

A business analyst captures and manages requirements in DOORS, Kovair, Jama, or any other popular requirements tracking tool. The other cross-functional team members use multi-vendor tools for design, coding, test execution, defect tracking and release monitoring.

When all these tools are not connected to each other, automatic and real-time update of information across tool-chain is not possible.  Business analysts have to hop around developers’ and testers desks to collect information and monitor release status. But, too much of manual interventions like email exchange, file transfers may lead to information loss and break the continuity in development progress.

For a large project with complex requirements and globally distributed teams, the results could be even worse. Here are what team members usually face in disjointed tool scenario:

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Pain points of Business Analysts

Business analysts don’t have real-time visibility on requirements coverage and overall progress status.

They need to know –

  • How many functional requirements have been worked upon?
  • Which requirements or change requests have been successfully implemented?
  • How many are yet to be executed by development team and by when?
  • If there is any roadblock to development progress and how soon that can be resolved.
  • If all the latest requirements have been successfully incorporated into final build.
  • If there is any major impact on the working code files for certain changes in the requirements and how that influences other tool data.
  • If the test cases cover all the performance aspects of customer requirements including the recently modified ones.
  • Which teams to approach for implementation related issues or troubleshooting?
  • Which of the team members to communicate with for contingency delivery plans and actions?

Pain points of Architects

Design architects can’t automatically update analysts about the prototypes they have created and then collect real-time feedback. They don’t get real-time information idea about –

  • How many Requirements have changed by the time new design prototypes get created?
  • What changes to make in a prototype based on revised requirements specification?
  • How to update testers and business analysts about the latest design models and their traceability relationships?

Problems faced by Developers

Developers don’t have detailed and direct visibility of the requirements they are writing codes for. They need critical information within their own tool such as:

  • What are the customer discussions and business perspectives of functional requirements that they are developing?
  • Which functional requirements are using a particular set of codes that they are changing to incorporate new business requirements?
  • Which are the other requirements that reuse the same piece of code?
  • How are those similar requirements developed in the past?
  • Which change requests need fixing on a priority basis?

 Pain points for Testers

Testers don’t get quick access to the critical data that they need from business analysts and developers working on the code files. Without automated flow of information between requirements and test tools, testers find it extremely difficult to know –

  • What are the source requirements for which test cases have been created and then failed during testing?
  • Which part of the application requirements got changed by the time test cases are getting executed for them?
  • When and to what extent to re-write the test cases based on the latest requirements specifications?

 The challenges faced by Project Managers

Project managers and senior executives have limited visibility into the overall progress and quality of the product. Without centralized access to requirements data along with other lifecycle tools specific information, they are clueless about how to optimize the project delivery plan and release goals.

It is necessary that a delivery head has total control on who is doing what, when and how things can be changed without affecting delivery schedule or cost. A manager needs to know:

  • If the team is on the right track as per delivery schedule and requirements captured so far?
  • If all the reviewed requirements have been considered for development
  • If all the change requests have been communicated to relevant stakeholders on time
  • If proper reviews of requirements are done at every stage of development

 Collaboration, Traceability and Real-time Reports are the solutions

No matter how costly tool an organization uses for managing requirements, its performance depends on its ability to collaborate with other systems. Once teams can view functional coverage of Business Requirements, Test Coverage of Functional Requirements, and Use Case Coverage of Business Requirements, it is easier to demonstrate regulatory compliance and ensure quality output. Requirements coverage reports help identify process gaps throughout the lifecycle and take corrective actions accordingly.

In a well-connected tool environment, geographically distributed team members can easily collaborate on requirements and other cross-tool artifacts and empower everyone with the insight of the progress of the delivery.

 integrated requirements management platform

Conclusion

Requirements Management process is an integral part of the entire project lifecycle. For successful and smooth delivery, it is important that your requirements management tool works in harmony with other tools and shares data on a real-time basis. When all the lifecycle tools are connected to a centralized repository, it forms an integrated tool environment wherein tools can talk to each other. This helps orchestrate lifecycle data across tool boundaries and ensures that there is a continuous flow of event-action related notifications to tool users.

In the next post, we will discuss how to build an integrated Requirements Management tool ecosystem and how that helps achieve seamless collaboration, traceability and real-time requirements coverage reports and analytics.

We would also like to hear your comments in case your project members face collaboration problems with existing requirements management system.

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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.