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Requirements Traceability Matrix

Improve quality assurance process with David Bowman’s information management guidelines for requirements traceability matrix

This site is designed for Information Technology professionals who need to improve efficiency and require guidance and direction to help teams consistently produce error free results.

It provides a checklist of information management guidelines for requirements traceability and a template that can help jump-start a project.

What is Requirements Traceability?

The objectives of a requirement traceability matrix are to ensure:
  • All requirements are addressed by architecture, design development and quality assurance testing; and
  • No additional requirements are included.
Think of a new house. You have agreed that you require two sinks in the master bedroom bathroom. These sinks should be specified in the architecture conceptual drawings and the building blueprint. During construction, inspectors should validate that the sink and appropriate plumbing comply with building code standards. Someone should also verify that hot and cold water come out of the appropriate taps, the sink drains properly and the overflow mechanism works correctly.

When you move in, you might look to see if there are two sinks and that they both work properly, but you are not going to check all the details—You need to rely on the architects, foremen and quality assurance team to verify the details.

Information management projects are similar except they sometimes have several thousand requirements and it’s important to ensure that each requirement has been designed, developed and tested before the system moves to production.

How are Requirements Traced?

The preferred approach for ensuring that requirements are achieved is to associate and track each requirement to design and development components via a requirements traceability matrix.

A requirements traceability matrix can be maintained in a number of forms e.g. MS-Word table, HP Quality Center, 3rd party requirements management tools, spreadsheet, etc.

How do we know that requirements are addressed?

Possible methods for ensuring that requirements are accounted for in each succeeding lifecycle stage include:

Inspection

Requires a careful, critical review of documentation, code and/or data to verify that a requirement has been addressed.

Analysis

Examines alternative solutions in detail so that the nature and function of each alternative may be judged as to best fit for achieving the requirements e.g analyze third party products to determine which of the products should be purchased or review business process metrics to determine if the business process has improved as hoped because of implementing a new solution.

Demonstration

A practical demonstration showing how something works to provide evidence that a requirement has been achieved via examples or experiments.

Test

Performs a pre-defined examination or trial consisting of one or more steps intended to ensure that a requirement has been properly implemented.
Who is responsible for requirements traceability?
  • The requirements analysis team is responsible for ensuring that all requirements are tracked thru the appropriate design, development and testing phases;
  • The data architect, or technical lead, is responsible for ensuring that no extra requirements are included in design documentation;
  • Each designer is responsible for completing a satisfaction of requirements section for each design specification indicating which requirements are addressed by the specification;
  • Each developer is responsible for documenting which requirements are satisfied by each module, report or user interface screen; 
  • The peer review process should ensure that no extra requirements are included in development code; and
  • The test manager is responsible for ensuring that all requirements are address by test cases and that test cases are not created to test for things that are not required.
Requirements Traceability Matrix Template

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Summary…

A requirements traceability matrix ensures that all requirements are addressed by architecture, design development and quality assurance testing and that no additional requirements are included.

This site provided a checklist of information management guidelines for requirements traceability and a template that can help jump-start a project.