The Standish CHAOS Report states that 71% of software projects fail due to poor requirements management. We can imagine this number being much higher when we consider all industries. Project failure leads to wasted investments and time, frustrated employees, a bad reputation, and lost revenue.
Project managers often play the blame game and say things like “we couldn’t get all the information” or “The requirements kept changing.” But that’s the reality — in any project, there are multiple stakeholders and the requirements may change on the go because of the evolving business environment.
So, how can we make sure the project you’ve made works, meets all the agreed upon requirements, and is able to accommodate changes along the way? The easiest way to go about this is by building a requirement traceability matrix.
Read more to learn about what a requirement traceability matrix is and how you can create one for your business.
The easiest way to define a requirement traceability matrix (RTM) is that it’s a scientific tool, often in the form of a document or chart, that serves as a record of all project specs. This document tracks project scope, deliverables, and demand from the start to the end of a project cycle.
Managing a project is stressful and trying to catch every “what-if” situation to ensure the project doesn’t derail adds more burden on the shoulders of a project manager. The RTM decreases the stress and pressure of managing and executing projects because it captures all demands from all stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle.
A company can use a traceability matrix in any of the following scenarios:
In the software and manufacturing industries, it’s common to develop a requirement matrix to ensure that the software or product is tested at the appropriate level. For instance, in a medical device company, the RTM can be used to check if the equipment is functioning correctly and meeting the standards of the medical industry.
An RTM performs the following functions in a project:
There are three types of requirement traceability most commonly used in project management: forward, backward, and bidirectional. We will explain each type in more detail.
As mentioned earlier, the RTM is typically a table or chart that lists each spec in a separate row, against its testing process. The RTM is designed as per the company’s specific standards, however, there are some essential components that are applicable in all frameworks.
In some cases, a company might decide on including the following fields in their traceability matrix as well: requesting department/client, project objective, and/or design status.
The following table gives an example of a Requirement Traceability Matrix.
Test Case ID
Customer Login Page
Customers need a page where they can login or create an account
Starting page for customer
A link on customer login page
Forget password link isn’t coming
What does having a requirement traceability matrix bring to your organization and project management? First of all, an RTM is an important component of project documentation that helps you deliver projects that meet the end-goal. If you want to consistently deliver high-quality solutions for clients, you’d want to create a RTM.
Other benefits of creating a RTM are:
One can look at the RTM as a document that dictates project direction and timing. The process of mapping out the requirements and related testing processes keeps the project on track. For project managers, the RTM aids in managing the scope of requirements. They can also assess if the requirements are realistic in comparison to the deadline. Another benefit of the RTM is that it eliminates the scenarios of adding too many unnecessary bells and whistles to a product as that can impact the delivery deadline.
One increases the chance of project success when things are planned well. With an RTM, each job specification is accounted for, tested, and improved upon. The matrix also highlights interdependencies amongst the tasks. This can provide insight into how the entire project will be impacted if there’s a change to any of the requirements.
The RTM provides a complete and succinct documentation of the entire project cycle and performance. The chart can make it easier to identify and rectify errors. Also, the data captured in the RTM can be presented to a client or even used for future planning.
With an RTM, you know what you’re testing, how, and why. The document also helps you ensure the tests are valid and reliable. The documents also logs testing bugs and solutions which can again be used for future project planning. Through testing of all features reduces defects and improves product quality. All of this leads to greater customer satisfaction.
The RTM also serves as a single source of truth for project information that can be shared with all stakeholders. The clear listing of each requirement eliminates communication and confusion. It also identifies which person or team is responsible for that feature so any concerns can be taken up with the right resource.
Eager to create a requirement traceability matrix and eliminate confusion, build accountability, and increase project efficiency? Follow our simple four steps, and you will be on your way to experiencing the benefits of the RTM.
Before you start using an RTM, you should know why you are gravitating towards it. What is it that the RTM will help you achieve? Reduce product defects? Ensure thorough testing? Or make sure that the final product meets the requirements put forth by the customer?
Now it’s about knowing the client’s goal and listing out all requirements pertaining to it. Is your client a clothing brand and they want you to create an app for a seamless shopping experience? In this case, the key points will be having all products listed along with pictures and detailed description, quick loading app, and a functioning payment gateway.
Speak to the customer, customer’s clients, and other experts to build a detailed list of requirements. Each requirement should include an unambiguous description of its functionality and purpose.
Use a dedicated RTM tool, like a software or app, or a template, to create your chart. A quick Google search will yield free templates that can be downloaded and customized.z
A requirement traceability matrix can also be built on Excel, just remember to include all the relevant components (mentioned earlier in the blog) in it. The only issue with using Excel to manage your RTM is that all changes need to be entered in manually which can be an administrative headache. Excel sheets are also prone to human error.
This YouTube video on creating the RTM on Excel has some helpful tips.
Once you have created the chart, complete all the fields with as much detail as possible. As the project progresses and requirements evolve, update the RTM to reflect the changes. This includes adding new requirements, modifying existing ones, and linking them to the appropriate artifacts. Regularly review and maintain the RTM to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date.
We would again like to point out that the RTM is a live document that should be updated throughout the project's lifecycle to reflect changes. This will keep the document as a single source of truth and maintain the integrity of the traceability links. Keeping the document updated ensures that requirements are not overlooked, are implemented correctly, and are adequately tested. All these factors contribute to the successful delivery of the project.
To gain even more insights and advantages, it can be wise to pair your RTM with a resource management software. Here’s how combining the two can be beneficial to your project outcomes:
The RTM and resource management software, when paired together, create a powerful synergy that enhances project visibility, optimizes resource allocation, improves decision-making, and delivers projects on time and within budget.
eResourceScheduler is a reputed, cloud-based resource management tool with GANTT chart capabilities that lets you identify and allocate resources to tasks. It highlights task interdependencies and has real-time reports that track project progress, financial budgets, and resource utilization rates. The best part is that eRS can easily be synced with any requirement traceability matrix.
So, to satisfy all your project and resources needs, start your 14-day free trial of eRS today.