Tag Archive for: Document-Based RM

In this blog post, we recap a webinar discussing why Word & Excel are not enough to manage complex requirements. 

Product development is more complex today than ever before. Modern products are multifaceted and multidisciplinary, with hardware, software, and various engineering approaches coming together in the name of superior customer experience. Many industries — medical device, automotive, and aerospace and defense, for instance — also require that complex product developers adhere to rigorous safety standards and regulations. Companies must work effectively and efficiently if they’re going to keep their competitive advantage. And that all starts with requirements management.

In this webinar, experts will discuss how you can manage your requirements in a more efficient way than document and look at how to navigate between different versions (version control) and how to collaborate with your team on your requirements.

You will learn more about:

  • How using Word and Excel for requirements management introduces risk to your product development
  • The pitfalls of not having a formal requirements management solution
  • Benefits of a data-driven approach to requirements management
  • How Jama Software can help

Below is an abbreviated transcript and a recording of our webinar.

Excel and Word Are Not Enough

Jerogen Frikken: All right. Thank you Marie for the great introduction. So today we’re going to focus on the requirement management tools and why Word and Excel just isn’t enough. We will first talk about the challenges in the pitfalls you will encounter when using a document based approach for your requirement management process. We will then show you the benefits of a data driven approach and why this is the preferred methods over a document approach. And we will end with an overview of how Jama could actually help you with this and close with a Q & A.

The development of products and the delivery of them are more complex today than ever before. Products today are having many different parts and are combining hardware, software, and various engineering approaches all together. Many industries like the medical device, automotive and aerospace and defense industry, for instance, also require that complex product developers apply to safety standards and regulations. Organizations have to work in a more efficient and […] if they want to stay ahead to their competition. Despite this, many teams are still using Word and Excel to manage requirements for these very complex products. This means they’re missing real time collaboration and insights, end to end traceability and integration with product testing.

RELATED POST: How To Write An Effective Product Requirements Document

Jerogen Frikken: Now, I am sure most of you are familiar with the term requirements management. But just in case you are not requirements management is the process of making sure you build just the right products. And for products that will have different releases or versions over time, understanding the changes to these requirements and their impact is a continuous process throughout the complete development cycle.

Basically you can view requirements management in three different ways. First, obtain and document the requirements. In a world of competing priorities and different opinions this is always a challenge and typically the responsibility of business analysts, system engineering and product owners.

Secondly, once we have documented the requirements we need to review and confirm they are the correct requirements. Are the requirements we document really what the user or the customer needs? Confirming this is often called the process of validation. And this is typically done by product managers, customers or users.

Last but not least. You may need to work with the requirements so you can confirm the teams have built the products according to the documented requirements. This process is typically called verifying the requirements or verification. Developers, testers, and quality assurance leads are key stakeholders in this process.

Watch the full webinar to learn more about Why Excel and Word Are Not Enough.




Today’s guest post is from Kemi Lewis (aka Rico Tubbs), senior consultant at Jama Software. Kemi has 21 years of experience in systems engineering in the aerospace industry and considers himself a recovering IBM® DOORS® evangelist. 

Q: What are some cool things about yourself?

A: I am lucky enough to train Brazilian Jiujitsu under direct lineage to the original creator, Helio Gracie. The physics geek in me loves how body mechanics and leverage apply in BJJ.

Q: Why are you “aka Rico Tubbs”?

A: I loved Miami Vice as a kid and thought it was a funny stress reliever during the pandemic signing into Zoom meetings to see if anyone got the 80’s pop culture reference, whether it was internal with the CEO/executives or external with a customer – 80% of the time it worked 😉 other 20% of having to explain still made people recall their childhood.

Q: What are some challenges you have experienced in your career?

A: Getting people to listen to your technical recommendations or getting others who are at a lower level to be heard in the same respect. This has been due to several factors, everything from what your “title” is, to me looking youthful, to being of West Indian/African American descent, to my calm friendly personality which leads to my input not being taken seriously since I am not yelling my point across. I never understood why executive leadership or program management would throw their engineering teams “under the bus” to save face with the customer. We win as a team and we lose as a team, so why would I go above-and-beyond for anyone who displayed that negative characteristic. Product development only gets better when you incorporate insight from all parties involved, no matter their title.

This stereotyping has also been associated with being the “IBM DOORS guy” vs being a subject matter expert in systems engineering for a given product, where your technical acumen has been dumbed down to a tool or that systems engineering is just IBM DOORS.

Q What led you to your position here at Jama Software?

A: I have been a huge fan of Jama Software ever since discovering it while looking for an alternative to DOORS for a new product development launch. I championed its use at a small engineering company, and then when the small company was acquired by a conglomerate engineering company. When the career opportunity at Jama Software became available via LinkedIn, I jumped at the chance to be able to help other companies be successful using Jama Connect. I only wish Jama Connect had been available to me when I first started working in engineering. From the impact of COVID-19, most teams are requested to do more with less without being provided with ways to enable/empower them to do more with less. Utilizing Jama Connect is an effortless way to increase that efficiency and effectiveness; don’t expect higher product development productivity to magically happen using pixie dust.

Q: What was your first week like at Jama Software?

A: My first  week at Jama Software was like drinking from a fire hydrant. The thing I love most about working at Jama Software is the mentality of if you win, I win, and we all win – which is very refreshing.

Q What’s a common myth about (Traditional/Classic) DOORS and can you debunk it?

A: That it is a bad requirements management tool, which it is not. A good analogy – IBM DOORS is like a land-line rotary phone which stopped upgrading after switching to a push-button touch-tone phone and now there are smartphones available, like Jama Connect, which are mobile and make you more productive.

Q: Is (Traditional/Classic) DOORS required by the DoD (Department of Defense)?

A: No. Any DoD contract just requires what tools will be used to manage requirements for the duration of the program.

Q What advice would you give someone thinking about using DOORS for a new project?

A: Will you get FULL collaboration & engagement from your product development team by this tool selection? Well, (Traditional/Classic) DOORS does allow teams to  to collaborate – it’s just not modern as one would expect. DOORS is exceedingly difficult to use (in my experience, we had 12 weeks of training only to fumble around in the tool) and administrative intensive with extremely high maintenance costs, e.g., as a small engineering company, IBM DOORS’s licenses and the yearly support and services costs are VERY expensive compared to its competitors, thus this was the driving factor in me looking for a tool with a better ROI, given no one in our product development teams was using it.

Will this tool choice make their productivity better or worse? Jama Connect is much easier to collaborate successfully in product development compared to DOORS, but here are the difference makers you will get with Jama Connect: It’s a web-based tool that works on any OS platform. Social media based actionable comments allow people to resolve the issue just by replying to the comment notification via email without even having to be in the tool. Jama Connect Review Center allows light weight users to engage in and provide feedback only on data relevant to them.

Q What do you wish you had known when you started out?

A: Even if you love IBM DOORS, always keep an open mind as there are other alternatives out there that can make you more productive and not keep your data hostage in a tool.

Q: Can you recall any “bad times” when using IBM DOORS?

A: It amazes me how much time I used to spend hacking/debugging (Traditional/Classic) DOORS DXL scripts just to “TRY” to export some information out of DOORs correctly since the option of using Report/Telelogic Publishing Engine (RPE/TPE) was an expensive product add-on that was not purchased. The hacker engineer in me always liked the debug challenge of getting it to work, but from a productivity standpoint it was terribly inefficient.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best features in Jama Connect?

A: Ease of use. Jama Connect is a simple, intuitive, web-based tool that makes product development teams more collaborative and efficient, since everyone is working from the same source of truth.

Q: How does Jama Connect create new ways of working?

A: Jama Connect provides a more data-centric POV with Living Requirements™ that create end-to-end project traceability, visibility, and reuse where there is a real time system of record for the active product development process while providing a flexible platform with integrations that support multiple solutions across the ALM-PLM ecosystem.

Here is a Living Requirements dashboard in Jama Connect that now enables you to see what previously was hidden until too late using (Traditional/Classic) DOORS or a document-based solution. By showing process exceptions, risks can be found early and mitigated at the lowest cost.

Q: Does the collaboration in Jama Connect make product development easier for you?

A: 100 times easier. Getting any specification reviewed and approved was painstakingly long in legacy or document-based solutions. You had to export it to Word/Excel then send a chain email which led to a rat’s nest of emails and different versions that were all uncoordinated due to updates being made by each reviewer. And thus, you are constantly merging and resending out the same doc to make sure everyone is reviewing the latest version, in addition to making all the reviewers cognizant of each other’s inputs. So much time was saved not having to constantly merge 10 different versions of a Word document or Excel spreadsheet over multiple iterations. This legacy/document approach taken in the past was the main factor in losing new business via customer RFP bids repeatedly, given the amount of time wasted versus utilizing Jama Connect’s data-centric solution. Jama Connect Review Center made a 70% reduction in engineering hours spent on non-value-added work, review, and approval time.

Q: Are there any resources or advice you can share that has helped you on your journey?


  1. Be humble. The most success I have had in my career is by treating people how I would want to be treated.Think and act collaboratively.
  2. Ego can get in the way of excellence. I have personally experience this where if the idea did come from them, it wasn’t an innovative idea thus several years and millions of dollars wasted trying to “recreate the wheel” when a COTs scalable “wheel” solution was already available and an industry standard.
  3. The bitterness of mediocre quality lingers long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten.Always look at things for the expected lifecycle duration of their use and do not be shocked when it does last. This has occurred in my career time after time where ONLY the initial cost is considered, yet there is surprise and panic when things start failing and customers are unhappy. It’s just like the three little pigs – a cheap/wooden straw house will not survive the hurricane forces of Mr. Big Bad Wolf! Pay for the bricks!

Challenges of requirements managementEditors note: In this two-part blog post, we’ll cover the top challenges of requirements management and how to solve them. Today we’ll start with challenge #4, go back and read Part I if you haven’t already to see the top three challenges of requirements management.

Every year, the complexity of projects increases. Requirements documents can be more than 100 pages and change 20 times during the development process. That means you likely spend hours circulating, editing, and tracking changes to a hefty requirements document with the hope that your team reads it and stays engaged.

The problem isn’t the requirements document itself. The problem is in using the document as the place to manage requirements. It’s no longer realistic to use documents to set expectations, communicate project details, and track changes throughout the process of developing today’s complex products.

As the person responsible for ensuring everyone understands what we’re building and why (a.k.a. requirements), you must evolve how you work. You must embrace new techniques and tools to find a better way to communicate requirements and deliver the right solutions while making the process as enjoyable as possible.

Based on our own experience and that of our customers, we compiled the five biggest challenges of requirements management, as well as expert insight into how to conquer each one.

The Top Challenges of Requirements Management

Challenge #4: Attention Deficit

Creating a detailed 200-page plan that no one has time to read, maintain, or review.

You need to articulate your entire plan to everyone included in the product development process. The problem is, most people only care about specific parts of the plan at any given time. If you’re working in documents, that means you’ll spend a lot of time creating something few people will ever read. And, any time an item changes, folks must review the whole thing to find what’s changed and determine each time if it’s relevant to them or not. Eventually, people stop paying attention.

Expert Tip: Be Relevant

Adopt the philosophy that everyone is simply too busy to absorb an entire requirements document. To avoid being frustrated by your organization’s collective attention deficit, relevancy is key.

This is an area where product development solutions can help you break large, complex projects into smaller, manageable parts and let people focus on what’s relevant to them. We recommend you manage the scope of projects item by item to get work done. If you’re curious what we mean by “item,” a requirement is an item. A use case is an item. A test case is an item. A defect is an item.

People naturally work on a list of a few items at a time. It’s how our brains work, and we’re more productive that way. By itemizing the scope of your projects using a solution with a relational database, it will allow people to focus on specific items they are working on, and maintain context of the overall project. Then, as needed for baselines, releases, or milestones, you can group together items and summarize the project via reports or a specification document for a holistic view.

RELATED: Download our Infographic- Five Best Practices for Writing Requirements 

Challenge #5: Mismatched Expectations

Stakeholders think they are getting one thing and are delivered another.

The expectation gap can cause real problems for company morale—not to mention your bottom line. Your development team takes pride in what they created, so when it doesn’t meet expectations, they can feel as though their hard work is wasted. On the other side, stakeholders can feel as though they haven’t been heard or that the development team didn’t understand the request.

Expert Tip: Be Proactive

Every project has changes during development, be they additional things to add or the reprioritization of features as the scope evolves. You must be able to document requests, justifications, decisions, agreements, and approvals made by the appropriate stakeholders. And that information must be available to everyone throughout the development process to ensure a consistent set of expectations.

Without adding a lot of unnecessary overhead, modern requirements management solutions offer the capability to capture the decisions, reviews, approvals, and electronic signatures to scope changes, as well as provide context, all as part of the natural workflow.

With that level of visibility, everyone can be confident they know the plan, and your development team can feel good about delivering what’s promised. And your launch event can be a celebration of your great work rather than an interrogation of what went wrong.

Download our eBook to learn how optimize product development with strategic team collaboration.


Requirements Management Tools

There are a lot of solutions for requirements management on the market. Get a breakdown of what to consider when looking for requirements management tools and software, and what the top requirements management tools all have in common.

Every trade has its own sort of requirements — those items or processes necessary to produce products, systems, or software that meets certain standards for safety, use, reliability, and customer satisfaction. All of those requirements connect and build on each other in different ways. For example, in the development of a medical device, engineers, enterprise architects, designers, software developers, medical experts, and researchers all bring different requirements to the table. However, if those requirements don’t work together, the resulting medical device won’t function as it should or satisfy the end user.

In the realm of product development and software development, requirements can exist across a variety of boundaries and in a host of different places. Without a single place to capture all product requirements, team members can end up siloed and isolated from the big picture. The unintended negative outcomes of this fragmented process might include: significant delays, cost overruns, product defects, compliance gaps, safety recalls, omitted requirements, and lengthy rework.

The right modern requirements management tool can help.

What is a requirements management tool?

Put simply, a requirements management tool is a central repository for product development teams that ensures all team members can see requirements as they evolve and properly evaluate where they are — at any given time — in the product development process. With a requirements management tool that captures everything from soft knowledge to regulatory compliance standards in real-time, product development teams can realize benefits such as faster speed of delivery, lower costs, and improved productivity.

Selecting the Right Requirements Management Tools and Software

As products, software, and regulatory guidelines have become increasingly complex, so has requirements management and project management. Methods that worked in the past, such as tracking requirements in static MS Word or Excel documents or using Atlassian Jira alone, may no longer be adequate for development teams. With teams scattered across geographic boundaries and a trend toward remote work, key members may work anywhere around the world from any time of day. Moreover, the convergence of technology means that products may need multidisciplinary teams across a complex hardware and software ecosystem. A product that used to require mainly mechanical experts now requires experts on mechanics, electronics, software, hardware, and even new technologies such as green energy and artificial intelligence.

And it’s not just the hard knowledge that needs to be captured. As the workforce ages, it’s vital that teams find ways to capture the soft knowledge and experience of workers who are preparing to retire. Not only that, but younger workers, especially Millennials and Generation Z, tend to change jobs more often than their predecessors. With workers moving in and out of the workforce and shifting jobs more often, teams need to preserve knowledge as much as possible. In addition, as enterprise companies move to Agile to stay competitive in a start-up world, they increasingly need collaborative tools to streamline processes and move past old ways of doing business and ineffective static requirements documents.

In this environment, the need for requirements management solutions has never been greater. With the right requirements management tool, teams will streamline product development and get better products to market faster.

RELATED POST: Checklist: Selecting a Requirements Management Tool

What criteria should be used to select requirements management tools?

To some degree, it depends on the industry, product, and make-up of your team. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

Is the requirements management software collaborative?

If your teams are scattered, implementing a solution that allows for structured collaboration and accommodates everyone is vital. A collaborative solution also contributes to a move to Agile.

What is the best tool to manage requirements for complex products in regulated industries?

In general, the more complex the product, the more robust the solution needs to be. Highly regulated industries need requirements management tools that allow them to trace compliance-related requirements in real-time.

How important are Living Requirements?

If your requirements management tool or system fails to address a fragmented development life cycle, and you are still operating with static requirements, the likelihood and risk of negative outcomes increases.

Are we stuck, unproductive, or frequently bogged down in a way that delays the release of products?

The right requirements management tool can streamline your processes and get the team moving in the right direction.

Do we need our requirements management tool to connect with other tools?

Many cloud-based requirements management solutions offer integrations with other cloud-based tools to further streamline your product development process and allow better collaboration across ecosystems.

What is the difference between using a spreadsheet and requirements management tools to manage requirements?

Using an Microsoft Word document or a spreadsheet for requirements management isn’t necessarily wrong. For simple products with small, in-house development teams and few governing regulatory guidelines, a spreadsheet may suffice. Historically, requirements have been captured using spreadsheets or simple processing documents.

 What are the pros and cons of using an MS Word document or spreadsheets for managing requirements?

·       Pros: Simple; cost-effective with free or open-source spreadsheet apps; few barriers to adoption.

·       ​​​​Cons: Prone to errors; tracking change is difficult; may not be easy to collaborate.

But as products and regulations become more complex, the spreadsheet approach presents challenges and hinders traceability. Teams increasingly work across a variety of geographies, disciplines, functions, and even companies. As the importance of cross-boundary collaboration rises and teams work in-person less frequently, trying to maintain one spreadsheet becomes increasingly difficult. Even a shared document on a cloud drive is inadequate; it may be infrequently updated, saved on multiple drives, or full of insufficient information. In addition, especially on multi-disciplinary teams, members may find a spreadsheet cumbersome as they try to determine which requirements they are directly responsible to address. Finally, creating a requirements trace matrix from a spreadsheet can be cumbersome and prone to incomplete information.

At the point where a spreadsheet is no longer adequate to trace and track requirements, organizations and teams need to consider what type of dedicated requirements management solution will work for them. A dedicated tool should allow the product development team to collaborate across boundaries, easily trace requirements, and produce requirements documentation with ease.

What are the best requirements management tools?

Of course, because teams and products have unique needs, defining the “best” requirements management tool is dependent on a number of factors.

For small teams or start-ups with few stakeholders, simple products, and tight budgets, there are a variety of free and open source requirements management tools available, including spreadsheets.

For SMBs who typically have fewer stakeholders and users, cost may be an important consideration. SMBs may want to look for a tool that has a lower priced edition or a per-user pricing model. Those options can still provide the important functions of requirements traceability, integrated discussion boards, and collaboration while remaining cost-effective.

For highly regulated industries, a robust RM tool can significantly reduce the risk of product failures, recalls, and reprimands from regulatory agencies. With a requirements tool that captures everything in one place, teams operate with more complete information and generate more accurate reports, which reduces the risk of product failure.

For the enterprise, a requirements management software that offers full integration and collaboration options can help keep teams agile in a start-up world. In addition, the right requirements solution makes integrating market research and user stories better, improving the chances of successful product release.

Your requirements management system should, at the very least, do these things:

  • Simplify the effort it takes to achieve compliance with regulatory standards
  • Reduce risk and the probability of negative outcomes and the impact of change
  • Enable alignment and collaboration across teams and activities
  • Provide end-to-end visibility and control with a single source of truth

Want the inside scoop? See what users are saying about Jama Connect

What are the pros and cons of requirements management tools?

For teams working on complex products in a regulated industry (especially those with a widely distributed team), there are many pros to adopting a dedicated requirements management tool. With the right tool, teams can realize several advantages:

Improved productivity: With one dedicated solution, team members have a single source of truth. As members write requirements, add user stories, trace progress, link to other layers of knowledge, and create relationships with other requirements, everyone on the team can see how decisions and progress ripple across the product development lifecycle.

Reduced time to market: With improved productivity comes reduced time to market. With true collaboration inside a requirements management solution, traceability improves, and all stakeholders can see connections in real-time.

Reduced rework: A 2018 Engineering.com study (sponsored by Jama Software) revealed that 83% of design teams experienced some kind of production outcome failure due to poor requirements management. Improving requirements management along the way will reduce potential rework, thereby improving outcomes.

Reduced defects: Defects in the development process are common, but they don’t have to result in long-term problems if caught early. Proper requirements management can help quickly identify defects and track their impact. By giving visibility into the problem early, teams can address and correct defects before they result in product failure or regulatory problems.

Of course, there are downsides to some requirements management tools. Some solutions may be cost-prohibitive, and if the solution is cumbersome or not user friendly, teams may be reluctant to implement and adopt it, especially if the customer support isn’t outstanding. Additionally, cross-boundary teams may use different apps or solutions that lack integration capabilities, creating barriers to productivity, collaboration, and, ultimately, product releases.

What features are important for requirements management software?

Jama Software breaks down some of the key features of various requirements management solutions on the market, and shows what top requirements management tools have in common.

There is a wide range of features offered across requirements management solutions. The features highlighted focus on the core functionality that any solution must offer to effectively fulfill the function of requirements management.

Top Requirements Management Tools Have These Things in Common

Ease of Use – installation and implementation must not take a lot of time and must quickly integrate with other systems and workflows to ensure adoption of the solution across teams.

Requirements Management  – includes the ability to define requirements, model relationships, link requirements, reuse requirements, and export/import requirements data.

Collaboration and Reviews –  includes the functionality for interaction between users, as well as some basic task management functionalities to allow for collaboration on tasks. This includes the ability to review, approve, provide electronic signatures, gather input, maintain version control, and receive notifications about other users’ activity within the software. This may extend to include collaboration with external teams and suppliers.

Full Traceability and Impact Analysis – able to establish an automatic relationship across requirements is key to effective requirements management. This includes test management and the ability to run test cases and mitigate risks through change management across the lifecycle of a project.

RELATED POST: How to Perform Better Impact Analysis on Upstream and Downstream Relationships

Flexible, Scalable Architecture  –  customers are searching for flexible, scalable and secure deployment models  with simplified, yet flexible license types for uses to support role-based deployment. These options should include availability as a SaaS solution in the Cloud or offered on-premises.

Integrations – the ability to integrate easily with other systems that are being used by the company.  Additionally, the solution should include an API built for customization and integrations to best-of-breed solutions across the customer’s tool ecosystem. Some integrations to look for are for software development tools, automated testing tools, and design and modeling tools.

Reporting and Analytics – graphical tools and reports, interactive flows and simulations, dashboards, storyboards, and functionality for graphical models.

Tools on the market to fill the function of requirements management vary from MS Word to those that focus on a specific industry use case (e.g. Greenlight Guru), all the way to full-scale Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools (e.g. Modern Requirements4DevOps, Intland Software codeBeamer ALM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) tools that serve multiple lifecycle needs (e.g. Siemens Polarion and PolarionX, IBM Engineering Lifecycle Management, IBM Rational, IBM DOORS Family and IBM Next, Rational DOORS, PTC Windchill, Dassault Systems Reqtify) to fit-for-purpose requirements management tools, focusing on the discipline of requirements management (e.g. Jama Connect).

Learn from customers directly how the products compare on leading customer review sites like G2 and TrustRadius.

RELATED POST: Non-Functional vs. Functional Requirements – What’s the difference? 

Team Culture and the Right RM Solution: Paired for Success

Finally, it should be noted that the right software can only do so much. Ultimately, a requirements management tool is just that — a tool. The right tool, however, can go a long way toward encouraging team cohesion and success, especially in an agile project. Look for a requirements management solution that:

Captures a full range of knowledge from all users: With an increasingly mobile workforce, it’s more important than ever to capture knowledge and hold onto it when workers move on. The right requirements management tool can help. As users enter and track requirements, knowledge is saved in one central location, allowing future users to access that knowledge for future projects.

Encourages collaboration and allows all users visibility: While it may be necessary to limit who can actually make changes to requirements, the right tool should give all team members the ability to see up-to-date information. This gives everyone a sense of connection to the project and allows users to see the impact of requirements and changes to all steps of the design process.

Provides a top-notch customer experience: A solution that gives you a full range of training options and ongoing support will help all members of your team adopt your solution. An added bonus is a strong user community that can offer support and advice from colleagues.

The right requirements management solution can give your product design team a way to manage, change, and track requirements through the full development life cycle and improve your chances of a successful product launch. To learn more about how Jama Connect can streamline your requirements management, contact us.

Selecting a Requirements Management Tool

Requirements engineering is critical to the success of a project because it tells everyone involved with the project what needs to be done. A project manager, who schedules tasks, can do so based on more accurate requirements. A requirements management software tool can greatly support successful teams, as it enables more efficient and optimized product and system development.

This type of tool can provide:

  • Clarity and visibility. Get broader visibility into what you’re building and why.
  • Live traceability. Ensure product quality and improve change management with complete traceability.
  • Decision tracking and fast reviews. Conduct virtual reviews of requirements, test cases, user needs and more.
  • Real-time collaboration. Immediately note and prioritize important decisions, pull in the required stakeholders and reference historical context to eliminate communication errors.

Challenges of Requirements Management

Editors note: In this two-part blog post, we’ll cover the top challenges of requirements management and how to solve them.

Every year, the complexity of projects increases. Requirements documents can be more than 100 pages and change 20 times during the development process. That means you likely spend hours circulating, editing, and tracking changes to a hefty requirements document with the hope that your team reads it and stays engaged.

The problem isn’t the requirements document itself. The problem is in using the document as the place to manage requirements. It’s no longer realistic to use documents to set expectations, communicate project details, and track changes throughout the process of developing today’s complex products.

As the person responsible for ensuring everyone understands what we’re building and why (a.k.a. requirements), you must evolve how you work. You must embrace new techniques and tools to find a better way to communicate requirements and deliver the right solutions while making the process as enjoyable as possible.

Based on our own experience and that of our customers, we compiled the five biggest challenges of requirements management, as well as expert insight into how to conquer each one.

The Top Challenges of Requirements Management

Challenge #1: The 11th Hour Swoop-In

An executive comes to you last minute with feedback that you needed three weeks ago.

We’ve been on both sides of this frustration, and it’s not pleasant for either party. The reality is that managers are busy dealing with a variety of issues and are often forced to focus on what’s most urgent. Also, ideas might be generated after leaders or stakeholders see prototypes and realize that what was specified in the initial requirements document is no longer the best solution.

Expert Tip: Be Open

To prevent the 11th hour swoop-in, you must be transparent and open to feedback at all phases of the project. Give management better visibility and a continuous feedback loop throughout the development process to address issues before it’s too late. Frequent check-ins can help get reactions early. If your team and executive staff are in the same office, this is easier to accomplish. Have a white board or dedicated wall sharing the latest designs in a prominent location. Every day, folks walk by and have an opportunity to react to what they see. Most people respond better to visuals versus written words to understand the user experience.

If you’re a distributed team in multiple locations, as is common today, then a specialized solution that provides everyone a central hub for the project’s requirements, related designs, and real-time feedback will help. Anyone, no matter where they are, can see what’s happening as the project evolves and you’ll be able to see any disagreements or potential hang ups before they cause costly rework.

RELATED: How to Realign Engineering Teams for Remote Work with Minimal Disruption

Challenge #2: Decision Rehashing

Meetings are spent revisiting old decisions or bringing others up to speed.

Decisions may be overturned as new information becomes available during the development process. However, there are better—and more cost-effective—ways to work through these changes than hashing it out in team-wide meetings.

Expert Tip: Be Clear

To manage change well, the whole team needs full context of the decisions made to understand why things are changing and how those changes impact the project’s scope. People need clarity and understanding to execute at their best.

This applies upstream to your stakeholders and customers so they understand what they’re getting. It also applies downstream to your design, development, and QA teams so they know exactly what to build and test properly.

Modern collaborative solutions exist that can help you capture the healthy debates and ongoing discussions that naturally take place around requirements, without the need for more meetings. People can see what others are saying and add their feedback anytime to agree or disagree, approve or reject, or propose edits to refine the solution.

Also, decisions made in meetings aren’t easily tracked in documents and people’s memories fade as time goes on. If this is an issue for your organization, adopt a new technique to capture decisions in line with requirements, and make them easy for the team to view anytime. This will eliminate ambiguity and ensure that decisions about the project are crystal clear.

RELATED: Download our Infographic- Five Best Practices for Writing Requirements 

Challenge #3: Change Tax

Manually sending updates to everyone when something changes.

When executing complex projects, change is going to happen. And, often for good reasons. As you get deeper into the design and development of a project, you know more than you did at the beginning. Thus, you and your team will think of better ways to build the desired product and iterate on the requirements along the way. If you try to manage versions and maintain visibility by tracking changes in Word documents, you’ll experience a huge tax on your time.

Expert Tip: Be Iterative

Embrace changes intelligently by connecting the dots, quickly assessing the impact, and automatically communicating changes to the right people involved. You want your entire organization to feel empowered to propose a change if they find a better solution.

The number one reason to adopt Agile within your organization is to create a culture that is nimble so your team can respond quickly and effectively to changing requirements. Thus, iterating as you go.

Don’t get hung up on the labels or the debate of whether scrum or kanban is superior. There is no definitive, one-size-fits all process. Agile first and foremost is a cultural mindset, not a prescriptive development process.

If you’re coming from a more traditional waterfall approach, your challenge with adopting agile is to avoid going from one extreme to the next. There is a myth that Agile doesn’t require a plan, but that isn’t the case for most organizations.

Smart Agile teams maintain requirements best practices such as traceability, impact analysis, and change management, which are borrowed from traditional methods so they can understand the ripple effect a change has on the rest of the project.

It’s a balancing act between agility and formal control. Some call it a hybrid approach. Again, the labels don’t matter. The key is to find the mix of techniques that works best for your team so you can execute projects without friction.

Stay tuned for next week when we cover the rest of the top challenges for requirements management and continue to give expert tips on how to conquer them. 

Download our eBook to learn how optimize product development with strategic team collaboration.


living requirements management

My first job out of college I worked for a large agri-business in Russia and toured all types of food processing facilities. The saying that you do not want to see sausage being made definitely holds true. What may surprise many of you is that the behind-the-scenes process to make the newest, shiniest tech, can be equally messy.

At Jama Software, we are fortunate to be working with leading companies, in the most innovative sectors of the economy, and are deeply immersed with our clients on state-of-the-art approaches to product development. So, we “see the sausage being made.”

Common Symptoms

When we begin working with a new client, the described symptoms of the product development process are often not pretty: business stakeholders are frustrated, requirements are not validated nor verified, requirements are missed, there is limited reuse, defects are too prevalent, costly delays, after the fact compliance that is heavily manual, no requirements traceability, significant rework, no real-time visibility and much more. After articulating these symptoms, most companies do not have a clear understanding of what the root causes are that are the origin of the symptoms.

Two Fundamental Causes

Our perspective, after working with over 600 companies, is that most organizations face two fundamental root causes that must be addressed to resolve these symptoms and reduce product development risk:

  1. The end-to-end process to deliver product is fragmented into siloed teams, activities, and tools
  2. The requirements that specify necessary dependencies and outcomes are trapped in static documents

As a result of these two key issues, the costs and risks of product delays, defects, omissions, regulatory gaps, and failures continues to run much too high.

As with most organizational challenges, there is a good reason for the fragmentation of the product development process – engineers. Engineers have been (and continue to be) enabled to choose their own tooling that best enables their productivity within their field of responsibility. As a result, end-to-end process data is siloed in numerous tools — within software, hardware, electrical, embedded systems, testing, etc.

RELATED POST: See How Infineon Transitioned From A Document-Based To A Data-Centric Development Workflow Using Jama Connect

The Resolution

Nearly every other business process has resolved this problem by forcing everyone on a common platform (think ERP, CRM, etc.). That approach will not work for the product development process given the complexity and diversity of engineering disciplines. The answer lies in somehow connecting static requirements to downstream activity – but how is that possible with requirements stuck in documents and little to no integration among the fragmented engineering silos?

Our top-performing clients are all taking the same approach. They have moved away from static requirements documents and have implemented LIVING REQUIREMENTS™ that form the common thread through all downstream activity to link each requirement to its decomposed user stories, dev status across engineering teams, change impact analysis, risk analysis, test results, defects, rework, launch and market feedback. The table below highlights the main differences between STATIC and LIVING requirements:


Item-level thread to all downstream process states 


Impact of change easily determined 


Exception reporting on missed requirements  


Compliance is highly automated 


Enables end-end process improvement 


Enables benchmarking performance 


Team productivity improvements 


Overall product risk reduction* 




RELATED POST: Requirements Traceability: How To Go Live

Differences between STATIC and LIVING Requirements

In short, Living Requirements address the root causes (identified above) to deliver increased productivity, faster speed of delivery, and risk reduction. This includes all areas of the complex product, systems, and software delivery lifecycle that can experience negative outcomes and should be actively managed to reduce the likelihood of occurrence.

  • Performance | Product fails to perform specified functions
  • Quality | Product defects are discovered by customers post-launch
  • Delays | Product release deadlines are missed
  • Fit to Requirements | Product fails to meet the needs of customers
  • Compliance Gap | Gap identified late and extreme cost to rework and fix
  • Regulatory Action | Product is not approved for launch or recalled post-launch

LIVING REQUIREMENTS are clearly becoming a competitive advantage in the innovation economy. If your requirements are still STATIC, you are falling behind. We encourage you to reach out to our team of experts and learn more about joining the LIVING.

Jama Connect’s Requirements Management Enables Live Traceability™ Across Your Development Process.

Bridge engineering siloes across development, test, and risk activities. Provide end-to-end compliance, risk mitigation, and process improvement with our intuitive, award-winning requirements management platform. Learn more! 

To learn more on the topic of requirements management, we’ve curated some of our best resources for you here.








Complex Product Development

Founded in 1999 as a spin-off of Siemens AG, German semiconductor manufacturer, Infineon Technologies AG is a world leader in semiconductor solutions that make life easier, safer, and greener. Ranking among the top 10% most sustainable companies in the world, Infineon is a leading player in automotive, digital security systems, power and sensor systems, and industrial power control.

In the 2020 fiscal year, the company, based in Neubiberg, Germany, reported sales of around €10 billion with about 47,400 total employees worldwide.

Infineon is dedicated to delivering zero defects regarding committed functionality, reliability, time, volume and cost, and has pledged to achieve CO2 neutrality by 2030. Semiconductor and system solutions from Infineon make our world easier, safer and greener – with technology that achieves more, consumes less, and is accessible to everyone.

In this customer story, we examine how Jama Software helps Infineon manage complex product development subject to regulatory compliance and increase efficiency. This blog post is an abbreviated version of the customer story. Read the full story to find out how Infineon’s shift from a document-based approach to a more modern requirements management solution resulted in better management of complex product development, systemic handling of requirements, improved collaboration, and more efficient functional safety standard compliance.

Top Challenges Infineon Experienced with Complex Product Development

Infineon’s product portfolio scales from single-transistor products to the most complex system-on-chips involving several globally dispersed teams who author, read, and interact with thousands of requirement items across several hierarchies.

The top challenges the organization faced included:

  • Keeping the overview on ever-increasing product complexities and avoid requirements misunderstandings
  • Providing compliance without compromising time-to-market goals
  • Manual document versioning makes review cycles and alignment difficult
  • Improving the review & sign-off process, making it an integral part of the requirement management system
  • Need for enhanced reuse capabilities
  • Exchanging requirements information with customers and suppliers
  • Overcoming the scaling limits of a document-centric approach

Seeking a Modern Solution to Enable Efficient Requirement Management

Infineon was looking to transition from a document-centric approach to a modern, database-centric requirements management solution.

By deploying Jama Connect, Infineon product development teams have adopted a more efficient working style to manage complexity, increase collaboration across teams, and improve transparency.

Jama Connect helped Infineon shift from a document-based approach to a more modern requirements management solution enabling newfound product development efficiencies around complexities, communication, reviews, and compliance.

The complex products that Infineon teams build require large amounts of data to be used from a central source, by teams distributed over different locations. With Jama Connect, Infineon is also able to collaborate with teams outside their organization and exchange requirements to ensure functional safety standards are met throughout the product development lifecycle.

“By using Jama to manage our requirements-related information over the product development cycle, our R&D engineers increase their daily efficiency and simultaneously contribute to the current digital transformation. Jama’s good usability won over our development teams.” Pierre Nury Technical Lead Requirements Management Methodologies

To learn more about Infineon’s shift from a document-based approach to a more modern requirements management solution, download the full customer story now!


Document-Based Requirements Management

Why should you consider changing out your documents-based workflows for real-time collaboration tools? As product development processes become more complex, traditional document-based requirements management is showing its age and limitations.

Document-based requirements management (RM) is still widely used in highly regulated industries like healthcare, automotive, industrial manufacturing, aerospace and defense. As these industries progressively shift toward increasingly complicated products and systems, they must fulfill numerous software and hardware requirements before safely reaching market.

But many organizations haven’t upgraded their requirements and risk management tools and processes to keep pace with this innovation, putting themselves at risk of protracted development cycles, costly late-stage changes, and regulatory recalls.

Solving the Challenge of Document-Based Requirements Management (RM)

More specifically, outdated document-based requirements management workflows centered on Microsoft Word and Excel are too fragmented for efficient product development. Multiple conflicting versions of requirements documents may be in play at any time, while stakeholders struggle to consistently connect on feedback and conduct timely reviews and approvals.

According to IT research firm Gartner, only 55% of product launches happen on time, with product development issues such as missed bugs and feature creep being major causes of setbacks. Fortunately, better collaboration is possible with solutions that enable real-time interactions, shorter review cycles, and a consolidated system of record.

Let’s explore some of the challenges with document-based requirements management solutions in particular, and how to overcome them through a more modern approach.

What You Miss Out on With Document-Based Workflows

At a high level, document-based requirements management – i.e., RM that involves authoring requirements, traceability and risk matrices, and other items, all managed within discrete files such as Word documents and Excel sheets – isn’t scalable to the demands of modern product development. A single requirements document can be hundreds of pages long, or (if a spreadsheet) have an overwhelming number of rows. Plus, it will inevitably change throughout the product lifecycle.

When the unwieldiness of these documents meets the complexity of continually gathering, authoring, testing, and tracing requirements, the result is often something like the following:

  • Person A emails a requirements document to their entire team.
  • Persons B, C, and D each update it with their own feedback.
  • Those various updates get re-distributed among the team for another look.
  • Person A tracks the changes in Word and tries to manually maintain an agreed-upon version of the truth
  • The entire team participates in lengthy meetings to align on the final version or changes
  • Ongoing rework, within that complicated and detailed document, is required to keep everything up to date.

This highly manual type of collaboration can consume many hours. Ultimately, the product team ends up managing documents more so than the actual requirements within them, which leads to miscommunications and delays, on top of wasted time.

Beyond the time-related workflow issues outlined in the above hypothetical, channeling all RM through individual documents creates additional problems. With document-based RM solutions, teams miss out on the convenient collaboration and standardized, consolidated processes available with modern RM tools. Accordingly, they’re left with problems including greater difficulty in implementing and adhering to industry standards, inability to efficiently manage change, crucial feedback not making it through cross-functional and distributed teams, and often costly rework leading to slower time to market,

Standards Adherence

Product development has become much more complicated over time. As a result, so has product risk—and the accompanying regulatory compliance required.

When teams build products and systems that must meet functional safety and compliance standards during development (such as ISO 26262, IEC 61508, Automotive SPICE, CMMI, ISO 14971, and more), they introduce risk into the development process when they take a document-based approach to RM. Without an easily accessible source for RM information, teams are essentially starting from scratch each time, with no built-in mechanisms (e.g., industry-specific templates or reuse functionality) for baselining or aligning the work of cross-functional teams around the necessary standards.

Traceability of Requirements

Given that document-based requirements are often very lengthy and increasingly complex, and the workflows for updating and circulating them are inefficient, it is easy to see how risks can be overlooked during product development. To go back to our hypothetical example, it’s possible that Person A sends out a revised version of their document that integrates feedback from Person B and C, but not Person D. That oversight could result in missing test coverage or a critical defect being identified too late. Moreover, tests would become tougher to trace back to requirements, in part because there’s uncertainty about whether all risks have been accurately captured at any point in time. Additionally, when Person A needs change a requirement, it is difficult to accurately assess the impact of that change (i.e. perform impact analysis) to understand what other requirements or tests may be impacted.

RELATED: Five Tips for Requirements Traceability

Cross-Functional Team Collaboration

Although many team members from different departments are involved in product development, coordinating all of them is nearly impossible without the right requirements management platform. Lengthy cross-functional team meetings are often held for the sole purpose of updating just a few contributors on recent changes made to a key RM document. With people often being out of the loop on changes in disparate documents, last-minute adjustments become problematic, as do reviews and approvals requiring input from specific individuals. All of these issues lead to late stage changes and rework that ultimately lead to product delays.

Real-Time Collaboration as a Replacement for Document-Based Requirements Management

To successfully move on from document-based processes, a particular type of RM solution is needed – one that can:

  • Enable real-time collaboration with full context and conversations around requirements, risks and tests.
  • Simplify the process for pulling in contributors and connecting them in real time.
  • Provide out-of-the-box templates for adherence to industry standards from the start.
  • Offer a single system of record for requirements, risks, and tests.
  • Support risk analysis throughout the development process
  • Easily export reports for proving compliance and passing audits.

In Jama Connect, real-time collaboration in one convenient place replaces the fragmented workflows spread across multiple documents and communication channels. Rather than emailing collaborators with new changes and requests or leaving them comments in Word or Google Docs that could easily be missed, contributors can manage requirements and risks in real time in the same system, providing a single source of truth.

To see the difference, consider how risk impact analysis changes when using a modern RM platform. Items downstream from modified requirement get automatically flagged as “suspect,” and specific individuals can be quickly notified and given context on what action is required. Once they make updates in Jama Connect, their inputs are automatically saved and can be viewed by others with the confidence that the data is the latest available. This process is much more straightforward than playing email tag or reconciling static documents.

Watch this recent webinar to learn more about moving away from document-based design control and risk management and how a modern platform can improve team collaboration and streamline processes.