Traceability is traditionally associated with waterfall and hardware or systems projects. Derwyn Harris, Director of Product Marketing at Jama, wonders to what degree does it also align or help with Agile methodologies, or is it perhaps completely in opposition to it?
Robin Calhoun, Senior Product Manager at Jama, thinks traceability helps Agile. “In Agile you as a team or a company agree to make changes and adapt, and be quick about adapting. One way to do it safely and intelligently is with data. What traceability allows you to do is to look at the impact of a choice you are about to make.” An otherwise blind choice becomes an informed one with traceability, which supports moving quickly with the necessary information.
With Agile you also don’t know what choices you are going to make or questions you are going to ask. It’s good to have a clearly mapped network of information of what you’ve done to date that allows you to refer back and make choices in the future with some level of background or context. With this in mind, traceability is no longer a static system of record but rather a fluid model responding to change.
Traceability is a way we can answer important questions such as “Is this safe?” and “Does this comply?”, and equally beneficial questions, such as “Why did we do this?” or “When did we do this?”, or “Have we done this before?” This way anybody, even a new team member, can work on a project with knowledge equal to that of a founder, who has all the background and all the answers off the top of their head. Traceability levels the playing field for those who want to ask questions and it gets rid of knowledge silos or potential corporate loss. “It doesn’t need to be in someone’s head. There is no reason to depend on that guy who knows everything, and make it their responsibility to tell me what they did and why. It’s not fair and it’s not scalable, especially if he’s making decisions based on other systems. There is no way he will know what somebody else is building in another system. [Traceability] is the only way to really manage the complexity of questions people are going to be asking.” says Robin.
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