Requirements Best Practices

Better Product Development: Five Tips for Traceability

Melissa Tatham | March 24, 2017

Products have become smarter.  As a result, the product development process has become a matter of managing complexity. Traceability, which documents the life of a requirement, is one key tool to manage the complexity challenge. When traceability is carried out correctly, teams can accurately assess the impact of changes, track the full history of product development, keep everyone in sync and consistently improve the quality of the products being built—every project, every release.

1. Assess the Impact of a Change Before You Implement It

If a requirement changes, it will affect directly related system requirements, downstream software requirements and numerous verification tests.   You need to anticipate the impact a change will have on your product and your entire team and best prepare for the outcome.

2. Connect Everyone and Everything with Trace Relationships

Each product you develop has customers, stakeholders and members of your team associated with it. You need the ability to connect data and people and make it obvious who needs to respond when changes occur.  This is the the benefit of traceability, and when done effectively it allows you to map out the interdependencies among the different items.

3. Ensure Traceability and Proper Coverage

Users should be able to view related requirements and understand the status of those requirements. It’s important that your solution visually represents your product and system, helping you align users, maintain quality, meet compliance regulations and understand the impact of change.

4. Document Changes for Complete Visibility and a Detailed Audit Trail

Companies that need to meet industry compliance standards need a comprehensive audit trail of changes, so you can analyze who, what, when and why a change occurred.  Traceability allows you to easily roll back to an earlier version of your changes because everything is stored in a unified system of record.

5. Keep the Team in Sync with Real-Time Communications

Too often team members waste time hunting in the requirements spec to determine if the latest change is relevant to them, which is costly. Or they ignore the email barrage and miss a change that is important to them, which is even more costly.  Real-time communication of the specific requirement that changed to just the relevant groups or individual users it affects saves time and money.

Traceability reflects your complex product data and simplifies the process of delivering a high-quality product. You save time and money, accelerate development cycles, reduce the risk of error, and improve quality and compliance. A good product development solution makes it easy to perform and report on traces so you stay on time, on budget and within scope.   To learn more about how automation can provide a huge boost to productivity check out this corresponding whitepaper.