Tag Archive for: modern requirements management


Examining the role legacy requirements management solutions, such as IBM DOORS, play in introducing project risk to the product development process.


Are Legacy Development Tools Putting Your Development Process at Risk?

The past few decades have ushered in a new way of working and now teams are expected to work more efficiently and collaboratively across the organization and supply chain. Companies building highly regulated and complex products often rely on legacy tools such as IBM® DOORS®, yet as product development methodologies evolve, legacy requirements management tools have not kept pace. Misalignment between what teams need vs. what legacy solutions provide can result in increased risk in the product development process, leading to inefficiencies and lack of visibility that result in missed deadlines, defects, compliance gaps, and rework. Companies that have migrated to a modern solution from IBM DOORS have achieved faster development times, greater efficiencies, and reduced expenses. As you plan your next move, we’ll cover everything you need to consider moving forward, including market challenges, how engineering teams are adapting, and why waiting to make a change will continue to expose you to greater unnecessary risks.

Market Drivers Are Pushing Engineering Teams and Technology to Evolve


Today’s products and software have become more complex. This complexity, combined with rapidly evolving customer and market demands, is forcing engineering teams to change the way they work. Now, far more stakeholders need to get involved in the requirements, driving the need for requirements tools to be more collaborative and have functionality that is applicable to diverse users. Organizations that successfully transform to support this new way of working understand that effective and optimized product and system development requires highly collaborative solutions and methodologies. To reduce risk in product development while still accelerating system design and delivery, teams need access to real-time data and alignment across disparate teams as well as across engineering, business, and product management lifecycles.

Leading-edge companies who are successfully supporting transformation of their engineering teams:

Invest in new technologies and agile processes to continually improve product development: Engineering teams prefer to make their own decisions about which best-of-breed solutions support their specific discipline and optimization of their activities – one single tool will not fit all users’ needs. It’s no longer possible for a Prime Contractor or OEM to mandate a single product or vendor across supply chains, and in fact, standards such as ReqIF (Requirement Interchange Format) and OSLC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration) have come about to help products work better together. Modern development solutions prioritize integration across the ALM-PLM ecosystem.

Take a data-driven approach to product development: An organization’s investment in their data is far more than the investment they make in tools, and the primary focus now comes down to availability of data and how that flows across an engineering community (integration) and the value chain (exchange). What is required is a loosely coupled approach that ties together the necessary metadata across disparate tools in a way that connects the desired outcome (user and system requirements) to downstream activities – the digital thread. The digital thread is the best approach to reduce the risk of negative product outcomes while preserving engineering autonomy and productivity.

Support more formal processes to address increased regulation: As product complexity increases, so has the need for more formal processes and compliance with industry standards. Best practices for systems engineering have been prescribed in many industries. This formal process adoption started with the need to comply with aerospace standards such as DO178 or ISO 9001. Now we see engineering regulation or compliance needs increase across automotive, medical, finance, and other industries, which require the same level of rigor in their development process. Investment in tools that support the generation of the necessary proof of-process compliance to standards, most commonly: requirement validation, verification, traceability, risk assessments, and test results, are critical to supporting efficiency while reducing risk.

RELATED POST: Migrating from IBM DOORS – Why and How Rockwell Automation Made the Switch

Why Organizations Originally Invested in a Requirements Management Tool

Requirements management (RM) has long been accepted by the engineering industry as an essential discipline, no matter which process is used, or which type of system is being produced. Organizations originally invested in a requirements tool such as IBM DOORS to establish a standard requirements management practice and process that allowed teams to align on a single source of truth for requirements. They invested in RM with the goal of:

  • Encouraging and motivating teams to follow common requirements practices. 
  • Establishing a single source of truth for requirements to ensure teams were working off the same information. 
  • Creating minimal disruption to the business with an off-the-shelf solution that allowed teams to focus on their core business. 
  • Integrating RM into core workflows and business without impacting how people work. 
  • Tracking the life of a requirement through development, test, and release.

We had this idea that a complete redesign of the requirements process and technology would be a game-changer — reducing the time it took for us to implement solutions for our clients and making it easier for clients to review and collaborate year-round. From the outset, we said that we’re not going to be throwing documents at our clients to mark up with their edits — there was a better way to do this.” Elizabeth Rosenberg – Alight Solutions

The Drawbacks Organizations Have Found with IBM DOORS

You may currently be using a solution which was implemented with all the intentions of producing positive business outcomes. But over time, the market has changed and, as a result, your organization’s needs have changed.

If you feel like you’ve outgrown your requirements management software, you aren’t alone. Complex systems such as IBM DOORS have inherent drawbacks and have also had trouble keeping up with the innovation occurring in highly regulated industries. Continuing to use a solution that your organization has outgrown comes with a variety of challenges, including:

A cumbersome user experience. DOORS has a complex and challenging architecture and an outdated user interface. Existing users are losing the motivation to continue to use DOORS while new users are reluctant or refuse to learn.

A system lacking robust collaboration abilities and a single source of truth for requirements. With stakeholders reluctant to work within DOORS, “librarians” must enter information into the system to keep everything up to date, while the real collaboration happens outside of DOORS in emails or conversations. As a result, organizations lack the ability to perform robust reviews or examine the audit trail for requirements evolution. Additionally, teams using DOORS often must retain dedicated staff, a cost that is unnecessary in today’s competitive market where teams are being tasked with doing more with less.

Risk is introduced due to aging technologies. DOORS 9.6 is already outside of its original support window, which raises questions about how long DOORS will continue. Inevitably, IBM will at some point discontinue support for the DOORS legacy platform, and that leaves customers in a high-risk situation trying to protect their intellectual property. Additionally, a cloud option is not available, which creates challenges with remote working.

A high cost of ownership and reliance on customization. Organizations need to focus on their core business and using a bespoken RM tool interferes with that goal. Companies often struggle to achieve the benefits promised by DOORS without complex customization, and those customizations don’t transfer to IBM DOORS Next.

For example, if a company makes cars, then their core business is to focus on cars. If, instead, they need to spend a lot of time writing customizations for a requirements tool then the focus is on creating a requirements tool and not on cars. The time spent on the creation of customizations is a detriment, moving their focus away from core business. Many customizations are also decades old, and it’s increasingly challenging to recruit or replace staff with DXL skills, once again adding risk to an organization.

Stagnant infrastructure doesn’t support change. At rest, DOORS is working and has a low IT man-power cost of ownership. Changes are constantly happening and ignoring them creates additional risk. Users oftentimes refuse to use DOORs and wind up working in Word/Excel and collaboration is done in meetings and emails leaving decisions and details lost outside of DOORs. As the IT industry faces more demanding regulations, supporting the DOORS architecture is growing increasingly difficult.

Lack of vertical frameworks to support compliance. As industries establish increased regulatory and compliance rules, new and updated industry engineering frameworks have been created (e.g., DO178 A, B & C). Legacy requirements tools made early attempts at providing engineering frameworks, but these have not kept up with industry changes and are now mostly left to users to create for themselves.

Risks and Costs Associated with Staying with IBM DOORS

Tools that are difficult or frustrating to use and require experts to operate will not only slow down development but will also breed resistance and hinder adoption. This creates fragmented processes that introduce unnecessary risks for organizations that must stay current with compliance regulations while developing integrated, complex products that sustain business and maintain market relevance.

The unintended consequences of a fragmented development process are critical functions such as requirements traceability, verification, validation, risk mitigation, product integration, and compliance can be fraught with information gaps, defects, delays, rework, recalls, missed requirements, and significant manual effort. In the complex product, systems, and software delivery lifecycle, organizations can experience negative outcomes such as: 

  • Performance: Product fails to perform specified functions. 
  • Quality: Product defects are discovered by customers post-launch. 
  • Delays: Product release deadlines are missed, or costs are overrun. 
  • Fit to requirements: Product fails to meet the needs of customers. 
  • Compliance gaps: Gaps identified late and require extreme cost to rework and fix. 
  • Regulatory action: Product is not approved for launch or recalled post-launch.

RELATED POST: Is There Life After DOORS? The High Cost of Poor Management Requirements

Considering a switch? If you want to move away from IBM DOORS, you are not constrained by a specific path to migration.

Leaders might already understand the need to switch from IBM DOORS, but they aren’t sure of the next best step. Some lean toward switching to IBM DOORS Next with the assumption that it will be easier to learn and deploy than starting from scratch with a new solution.

However, the only thing that DOORS Next shares with the original DOORS is the name; otherwise, it’s a completely different platform that takes the same level of migration effort that any migration away from DOORS legacy would take. Any expensive DXL customizations — which can sometimes add up to more than a million lines of code — cannot be migrated to DOORS Next.

As you make your decision on whether to migrate away from DOORS or not, consider the risks associated with DOORS and the benefits of choosing a different option. Risks may include: 

  • Loss of control and employee frustration. Employees frustrated with DOORS work outside of DOORS, most often in Microsoft Word or Excel, which means that requirements are no longer maintained in a central system and a rigorous process is not followed. This leads to an inability for management to monitor key metrics for the end-to-end process to identify process risk patterns. 
  • Increased operational costs. Continuing the existing path of using DOORS increases an organization’s risk and expense complying to ever demanding IT security regulations. 
  • Disruption in business. New users are reluctant to pick up the antiquated user interface of DOORS, expecting software to be as intuitive as applications in their social environment. Not having the ability to move fast and scale business to meet innovative market demands will cost your business time and resources. 
  • Missed market opportunities. Errors, defects, and omissions not found until the end of the process cause costly delays and overruns. A company’s long-term success can be hindered by delayed launches and missed market opportunities. 
  • Increased exposure to risk in regulated markets. A requirements management tool helps you stay compliant and increase visibility in regulated markets. Limited customer and cross-functional involvement in the review and approval of requirements and a lack of stakeholder alignment create unnecessary risks. And, the absence of process exception tracking, which determines if requirements have been omitted or modified, creates additional exposure. With more stakeholders refusing to use DOORS, compliance is checked after the fact with the arduous task of tool admins importing data and then running trace analysis. Extended stakeholders who are using DOORS are only able to see any errors long after they have been introduced and eventually imported. 
  • Distraction from the core business. An ineffective requirements management tool encourages organizations to create customizations rather than simply configuring a tool to meet process needs. Developing and maintaining ad-hoc customizations force an organization to focus on how to create requirements management functions rather than focus on core business. A modern requirements management solution enables teams to work faster and more efficiently, leading to faster time to market.

This blog is Part I – Part II is available here – of a series covering this whitepaper:  Why Move Away from IBM Doors Legacy and Why Now 


Alternative to IBM DOORSProduct development teams face many challenges in today’s fast-moving and increasingly regulated environment. Potential missteps, however, can create an expensive ripple effect throughout the product development cycle, with the potential for missed deadlines, compliance issues and more.  

Real-time collaboration and the need for a single source of truth are critical to product development teams. Outdated tools often don’t deliver on these needs, and a misalignment between what a team needs and what a tool provides can hinder success. Requirements management tools that keep pace with your team’s evolving needs can help mitigate potential risks, improve efficiency and achieve faster results.  

If you’re currently using IBM DOORS, understanding the difference between the existing solution and more modern options can help you to determine the best next steps for your organization.  

Requirements Management and IBM DOORS 

Many organizations adopted IBM DOORS because they needed a requirements management tool for their teams and, at the time, it seemed like the best option. But much has changed since the creation of IBM DOORS, and the tool has quickly become outdated. Today’s teams need the ability to not only collaborate in real time but also to do so remotely. They also need to:  

  • Follow a consistent and common requirements practice.  
  • Create a single source of truth for requirements, ensuring that everyone on the team is working from the same information.  
  • Have easy integration so that requirements management is integrated into both core workflows and business to improve productivity.  
  • Be able to track requirements to develop, test and release new products.  

Development teams and critical stakeholders expect the tools they use to be as intuitive as the technology in other areas of their lives. Users of IBM DOORS, however, struggle with usability issues, leading many to not use the solution and opt instead to use outside programs, such as Word or Excel. This creates challenges within workflows, productivity and efficiency, and it introduces potential risks, eliminating the ability to have a single source of truth. But how did IBM DOORS become outdated, and what does it lack?  


The Advantages and Disadvantages of IBM DOORS  

Organizations are often tempted to maintain an outdated solution, even if it’s underperforming. Why? Because fear and worry exist when it comes to switching to a new solution, users often stay with the existing solution or upgrade to the next offering within the same organization (such as IBM DOORS Next).  

The advantage of staying with IBM DOORS is that you don’t need to invest in a new solution and undergo the adoption process that comes with transition. But delaying the switch to a new RM tool only delays the inevitable, because IBM DOORS will eventually go out of support, which will create many challenges, including potential security issues.  

A few common misconceptions around the advantages of IBM DOORS include:  

  • Upgrading to IBM DOORS Next is a less-expensive option. IBM DOORS Next is not IBM DOORS, it’s an entirely new tool with a new approach to requirements. In fact, the only thing the two have in common is in the name. Migrating to IBM DOORS Next might seem like the less-expensive option. However, the work that goes into upgrading to IBM DOORS Next and transitioning to an entirely new RM tool is the same. Moreover, selecting a different solution may help you improve efficiency and achieve ROI faster.  
  • Customizations will carry over to IBM DOORS Next. Organizations invested money and resources in IBM DOORS customizations (DXL), and you might believe that you can take these innovations with you when you move on to IBM DOORS Next. However, this isn’t the case, and selecting a different solution could allow for you to use fewer customizations.  
  • Business disruption is more significant with a different RM solution. Eventually, you’ll need to move away from IBM DOORS after the support is discontinued. The right RM solution will help teams more effectively hit deadlines, collaborate with greater ease and improve business outcomes, offsetting any upfront business transition.  
  • The user experience will suffer. Many people refuse to use IBM DOORS due to a challenging user experience; switching to a new RM tool may accelerate concept, design and validation processes, leading to faster times to market.  

If you’re considering making a switch, comparing various options can help determine which RM tool is best aligned with your needs. An innovative tool has the potential to reduce risk for project rework, expensive errors and compliance risks 

What is the best alternative to IBM DOORS?  

If you want to move away from IBM DOORS, you aren’t constrained by a specific path to migration. So, what is the best alternative to IBM DOORS?  

The answer is found in examining both what your team needs most right now and what they may need in the future.  

Collaboration is a critical part of the workflow, especially with the increasing number of people working remotely. Organizations need a tool that supports digital transformation, has greater efficiency and is user-friendly enough that people will use it. 

Jama Connect is a modern alternative to traditional legacy platforms, such as IBM DOORS, and was named the overall leader (No. 1) in requirements management software on G2, outranking IBM DOORS Next for implementation, time adoption, ROI and market presence. The tool offers users a reliable solution with:  

Simplicity. Jama Connect provides an intuitive and modern user experience. Requirements management software supports multiple development methodologies and engineering disciplines to drive cross-team collaboration and alignment.  

Flexibility. Customization is a critical factor to product development teams, which ensures that they get the functionality they need most. Jama Connect provides customization, security development and a licensing model that delivers a lower total cost to ownership.  

Open. A poor experience is created when an RM tool doesn’t integrate with other tools that your team wants to use. Jama Connect allows for seamless integration with the most commonly used tools across the product development life cycle. You’ll have access to a powerful network of options to get the right technology stack aligned to your unique business needs.  

Simplicity, flexibility and the ability to easily integrate with other tools give your team the resources they need to create greater success in all of their projects. As you consider adopting RM tools such as Jama Connect, it helps to have a quick comparison to help guide your decision.  

RELATED: Q&A with a Former IBM® DOORS® Evangelist

IBM DOORS vs. Jama Connect — A quick comparison  

Adopting a new RM tool involves asking many questions, including the following: What is the implementation process? What are the costs and ROI? How easy is the tool to use? Consider the following as you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of IBM DOORS Next and Jama Connect.  

Adoption. Organizations worry that adopting a new solution will take too much time and money, so they often gravitate to a solution such as IBM DOORS Next, primarily because they assume adoption is easier. However, Jama Connect is actually 2.7x faster to adopt than IBM DOORS Next. Additionally, Jama Connect rated 80% in ease of administration, compared with IBM DOORS Next, which rated 71%.  

Return on investment. How fast will your investment pay off? This is a critical question for any new solution, and it’s important to note that ROI is achieved 45% faster with Jama Connect compared with IBM DOORS Next.  

Usability. Usability is a key reason many people refuse to use IBM DOORS and instead use email communication, Word, Excel or other outside applications. Users expect their RM experience to be as intuitive as applications in their social environment. Jama Connect rated 85% in “ease of doing business,” compared with IBM DOORS Next, which rated 74%. 

Supports remote working. The remote working trend is only expected to grow in the future. IBM DOORS lacks cloud capabilities, creating challenges with working anywhere, anytime. IBM Jama Connect creates a single repository so it’s easy for remote teams to gather, review and execute on requirements. Structured reviews and collaboration enable teams to elicit feedback, review product features in real-time with stakeholders, and track critical decisions across teams and locations. 

Moving forward with greater confidence   

Products, systems and software development are only getting more complex; so not modernizing your requirements management tool creates potential risks, such as negative outcomes in your product development process.  

As your team increasingly requires the ability to adopt, innovate and grow, continuing to use IBM DOORS will only become more difficult and potentially introduce risk into your product development process.  

Transitioning to a new requirements management tool provides your team with the resources required to innovate, meet deadlines and succeed. You can more effectively define, manage and validate complex system requirements, all while eliminating the risk and inefficiencies associated with outside documents and legacy systems.  

What is Requirements Management?

Whether you’re just learning the basics of requirements management, looking to improve your current requirements management process, or interested in benchmarking your process against industry leaders, you’re in the right place.

This article covers what requirements management is, why managing requirements matters, what the requirements management process entails, and how to manage requirements when creating complex, highly regulated products.

What is a need?

A need is an agreed-to expectation for a product or system to perform some function or possess some quality within specified constraints with acceptable risk.  Needs communicate what the stakeholders need and expect from a product or system in order for a given problem or opportunity to be addressed.

What is a requirement?

A requirement is the result of a formal transformation of one or more needs or parent requirements into an agreed-to obligation for a product or system to perform some function or possess some quality within specified constraints with acceptable risk.

There are different types of needs and requirements that range from a business focus to a user focus to a technical focus.

Business needs and requirements, sometimes referred to as stakeholder needs and requirements, are those derived from the business processes or elicited from the stakeholders including customers, users, and other stakeholders involved in the project. The stakeholder needs represent what the stakeholders need the product to do to address the problem or opportunity the product is to address; stakeholder requirements are stakeholder-own product requirements that communicate what the stakeholders require of the product to meet their needs.  Stakeholder needs are expressed in natural language without the use of “shall”, while stakeholder requirements are communicated with “shall” to make sure they are treated as binding requirements the product will be verified to meet.

Given there are multiple stakeholders, there will be multiple sets of stakeholder needs and requirements. It is up to the project team to elicit these needs and requirements, resolve conflicts, inconsistencies, and other issues. The results will be an integrated set of needs from which the product requirements will be transformed from. The resulting product requirements represents what the product must do in order for the needs to be met. Product requirements are sometimes referred to as system requirements, software requirements, or technical requirements.

What is requirements management?

Requirements management is the process of gathering, analyzing, verifying, and validating the needs and requirements for the given product or system being developed. Successful requirements management ensures that completed deliverables meet the expectations of the stakeholders. Requirements can be managed using documents, however, complex systems or products in highly regulated industries mitigate risk by using trusted requirements management tools.

Why is requirements management important?

Requirements management is important because it empowers everyone to clearly understand stakeholder expectations and confidently deliver a product that has been verified to meet the requirements and validated to meet the needs.

Requirements management is a sophisticated process that includes many moving parts and diverse groups of people. Typically, the product management department, specifically the product manager, is responsible for the requirements management process. They work with the stakeholders, including business teams, customers, users, developers, testers, regulators, and quality assurance.

Additionally, a product may have only 100 requirements, or it may have several thousand. This depends on its complexity and level of regulation. With all these elements at play, success hinges on the ability to get everyone on the same page, working toward the same goal.

Therefore, the business value of managing requirements is huge, as successful requirements management is key to project success. Benefits of requirements management include:

  • Enhance understanding of stakeholder needs, requirements, and expectations and the problem or opportunity the product is to address
  • Gain clarity on scope, budget, and schedule
  • Minimize costly and time-consuming rework
  • Increase product quality
  • Mitigate risk
  • Improve likelihood of delivering the right product, within budget and schedule with the required quality.

The importance of requirements management is intensified, however, when building complex or highly regulated products. This is because more time and budget are invested in development. The cost of getting it wrong — be it money, time, or reputation — is too great to risk. Hence, developers in regulated industries, or those who develop products with a lengthy list of needs and requirements, tend to rely on requirements management tools, like Jama Connect® to keep their projects in order. 

Requirements management vs. project management

While it may seem that requirements management and project management are synonymous, there is a difference. Simply, project management is getting the product built within budget and schedule with the available resources. Requirements management is making sure the product is the right product built right.

The goal of the product development process is to create a successful product that meets stakeholder, customer, and market needs. The requirements management piece of product development includes managing the needs and requirements so that the product meets stakeholder expectations. Therefore, needs and requirements along with budget and schedule set the scope for the project.

However, the domain of project management encompasses tasks like providing budget, personnel, and resources needed to develop the product.

Stages of the requirements management process

So, how do you manage requirements? The most successful teams work from a defined requirements management process. Defining the requirements management process is important because requirements change throughout a project. When this happens, that change needs to pass through the same, repeatable process.

There are four main stages of the requirements management process — planning, development, system verification, and system validation — each with important considerations to the overall project. Change management, while not a stage itself, affects nearly every phase of the requirements management process.

Planning Stage

The product development methodology—waterfall, agile, or Scrum—helps decide how requirements move through the process. Waterfall models are typically linear with development moving from one process area to another with a completed product delivered with the required features and functionality. Agile development, including Scrum, is iterative in nature. In requirements management, agile teams, and those using the Scrum approach, may be working on different sets of requirements concurrently, delivering a product in increments, each increment adding value with additional features or functionality.

No matter which methodology is employed, the RMP is the documented process the team uses throughout product development. It contains information like stakeholder roles and responsibilities, which needs and requirement artifacts will be defined, how traceability will be competed and managed, how needs and requirements baseline will be handled, how interactions (interfaces) with external systems and users will be managed, how changes will be managed, how the product will be verified to meet the requirements, and how the product will be validated to meet the needs.

A successful Requirements Management Plan is visible to and has sign off from stakeholders, as it sets the course and expectations for all stakeholders throughout the product development journey.

Needs and Requirements artifacts

Part of the RMP is defining the needs and requirements artifacts that will be created during the requirements management process.


Needs and requirements artifacts include the data and information concerning the needs and requirements and related information. Examples include diagrams, and models, integrated set of needs, set of product requirements, use cases, design documents, testing plans and procedures. Requirements artifacts are used throughout the product development lifecycle to:

  • Describe the product being built
  • Identify the actions needed to develop the product
  • Capture the actions performed during development
  • Define the testing needed for system verification and system validation
  • Assist with stakeholder review, communications, and engagement

While some organizations will communicate this information in a document form (e.g.,  a Software Requirements Specification (SRS)), the increasing trend is to manage the needs and requirements within a requirements management software application.

The reason organizations are moving towards a data-centric practice of product development is that is hard, for any document-based approach to be flexible and scalable enough for complex agile projects. This is especially true for highly regulated industries that must prove compliance. Due to numerous factors—lack of consistent updating, human error, incomplete data, version control, the need to establish and maintain traceability, etc.—documents simply cannot be relied upon determine whether a need or requirement is fulfilled.

Agile product teams working on complex products in highly regulated industries will have much more success using a requirements management software application to streamline the requirements analysis phase of requirements definition and management. Modern requirements definition and management solutions, like Jama Connect®, define, establish traceability, manage, and validate complex product requirements automatically, which simplifies not only requirements analysis, but the overall requirements definition and management process.

It is imperative that needs and requirements and needs and requirements artifacts are linked to each other and to additional related artifacts. This can be difficult to achieve using documents, as the manual nature lends itself to myriad errors. This is especially true in the case of complex or highly-regulated products where traceability is a prerequisite for proving compliance.

Needs and Requirements attributes

To keep track of the requirements in a given project, each requirement should have a specific list of attributes. Requirements attributes are used to ensure that requirements are organized and uniquely identified across all requirements artifacts.  The attributes also aid in managing the sets of needs and requirements, enabling reporting and dashboards to be defined to provide accurate and timely status of the project.

It is a best practice that the following requirement attributes are included for all needs and requirements:

  • Unique Identifier
  • Rationale
  • Owner
  • Type
  • Definition status
  • Priority
  • Criticality
  • Compliance
  • Version number
  • Change history
  • Trace data
  • Verification status (for requirements)
  • Validation status (for needs)

Needs and Requirements Baseline

A needs and  requirements baseline is a point-in-time look at a committed set of agreed-upon, reviewed, and approved needs and requirements, or planned functionality and features to be included in the product. The purpose is to provide information to stakeholders so they can make informed decisions on and possibly modify the planned functionality and features using change requests.

The RMP defines a baseline strategy including timing and frequency of creation, needs and requirements prioritization (deciding which requirements should be included), publishing, change management, requirements verification, and requirements validation.  In this context needs and requirements verification address the quality of the needs and requirements statements as well as the existence and correctness of the traceability. Needs validation is confirmation with the stakeholders that the integrated set of needs clearly communicates the intent of the stakeholder in terms of what the need the product to do.  Requirements validation is confirmation with the stakeholders that individual requirements and the set of requirements clearly communicate the intent of the needs they were transformed from.  The quality of the requirements is dependent on the quality of the needs from which they were transformed.

Establishing a requirements baseline is important because it implies that:

  • Scope has been defined and agreed to – Critical to control scope creep!
  • Formal change control begins
  • Staffing levels and budgets are set
  • Schedule commitments are made

Typically, baselines are stored in software requirements specification (SRS) documents. However, a complex system might need a variety of software, hardware, and interface requirement specifications to encapsulate the baseline’s components. This can be cumbersome to maintain during initial development and downright impossible during change management.

Alternatively, working with baselines in a requirements management solution allows baselines to be defined as a subset of the requirements already stored in the database. This streamlines the process from prioritization through stakeholder sign off.

Requirements development stage

The development stage is conducted using the organization’s requirements analysis process.

The needs and requirements development stage incudes eliciting needs and requirements from the identified stakeholders, properly defining and refining them, and analyzing them to ensure clarity and resolve issues and conflicts. Without successful needs and requirements development there would surely be gaps between what the stakeholders expect and what is ultimately delivered. The result of which could be disastrous.

Eliciting needs and requirements

Also called needs and requirements gathering, eliciting needs and requirements is the act of working with users, customers, and internal business stakeholders to identify stakeholder needs and requirements and get an understanding of  the product or system requirements.

Needs and requirements definition

Needs and requirements definition is the time when the gathered needs and requirements are re-written in a clear and traceable way that enables effective communication throughout the product development lifecycle.

There are many do’s and don’ts for writing needs and requirements, but the following are basic characteristics of quality needs and requirements:

  • Necessary
  • Unambiguous
  • Feasible
  • Verifiable
  • Correct
  • Traceable
  • Appropriate

A needs and requirement’s traceability is very important. At the end of the day, needs and requirements traceability is the only way to know if a need or requirement has been fulfilled by the design and built product.  Bidirectional traceability—the ability to perform both forward and backward traceability, usually made possible via requirements management tools like Jama Connect—allows teams to understand why a specific need or requirement exists and easily analyze the impact of changes.

Furthermore, products in regulated industries must demonstrate traceability to prove compliance with standards and regulations. Therefore, when writing requirements, it’s paramount that each requirement maps to all corresponding artifacts.

A requirement’s traceability is very important. At the end of the day, requirements traceability is the only way to know if a requirement is fulfilled. Bidirectional traceability—the ability to perform both forward and backward traceability, usually made possible via requirements management tools like Jama Connect—allows teams to understand why a specific requirement exists, easily analyze the impact of change, and help prioritize requirements.

Furthermore, products in regulated industries must demonstrate traceability to prove compliance. Therefore, when writing requirements, it’s paramount that each requirement maps to all corresponding artifacts.

Many teams use a requirements traceability matrix (RTM) to track requirements and manage the scope of a requirements change. The RTM is static and maintained manually. The problem is that change is ubiquitous in the product development process. When change happens, teams must manually search the RTM document for all related upstream and downstream needs and requirements, dependent requirements and verification and valdidation tests that may be affected by the change.

Scouring through an excel spreadsheet for each change may not be that daunting if there are only one hundred or so needs and requirements. However, if the product has hundreds or thousands of needs and requirements—think complex, regulated products—managing the scope of change becomes a cumbersome and time draining exercise fraught with risk.

Requirements management tools are designed to streamline the process—even for highly complex, regulated products. Jama Connect, specifically, uses the benefits of living requirements to:

  • Easily determine the impact of change
  • Automate compliance
  • Enable end-to-end process improvement
  • Increase productivity
  • Reduce product risk
  • Increase quality

Requirements analysis

Sometimes, there is a gap between what stakeholders say they want and what they actually want. The purpose of requirements analysis is to ensure all business, software, and product requirements accurately represent stakeholder needs and requirements. The goal of requirements analysis is to get a clear understanding of stakeholder needs so the deliverable matches stakeholder expectations.

System Verification Stage

System verification means determining if the finished product meets the baselined product requirements. This is different than system validation (discussed below), which evaluates whether the product satisfies the stakeholder needs. are both important but system verification always comes first.

Planning for this stage starts when the product requirements are being defined.  Planning includes, determining which system verification events are needed to confirm that product requirements are fulfilled.

To ensure successful system verification, the following attributes should be defined for each product requirement before the requirements are baselined, to set the expectations for the tests and quality assurance work that needs to be done and reduce the risk of rework efforts later.

  • Success criteria (what must be proven to show the requirement was met)
  • Method (test, demonstration, inspection, or analysis)
  • Strategy (approach to be used, operating environment, test environment, system configuration, etc.)

System Validation Stage

System validation means determining whether the product satisfies the stakeholder needs. are both important but successful system validation is what leads to product acceptance for its intended use, by the intended users, in the actual operational environment. For highly regulated products, approval for use is dependent on successful system validation.  Final product acceptance by a customer also depends on successful system validation.

Planning for system validation starts when the integrated set of needs are being defined.  Planning includes, determining which system validation events are needed to confirm that needs are fulfilled. One approach is to define a set of attributes that address system validation for each need.

To ensure successful system validation, the following attributes should be defined for each need before the needs are baselined, to set the expectations for the tests and quality assurance work that needs to be done and reduce the risk of rework efforts later.

  • Success criteria (what must be proven to show the need was met)
  • Method (test, demonstration, inspection, or analysis)
  • Strategy (approach to be used, operating environment, test environment, system configuration, etc.)

Challenges with requirements management

Requirements management has its share of challenges. As change management is so prevalent in the requirements management process, it’s a big hurdle teams need to address at the beginning of the project.

When building products that have thousands of requirements and countless changes, teams can spend hours circulating, editing, and tracking changes in an attempt to maintain traceability and simply keep development on track.

This is especially challenging when maintaining the needs and requirements in document form. Version control issues are one challenge that results from change. Versioning problems can arise on the artifact itself, for example someone might be giving feedback on SRS version one but there is already an SRS version two with different, additional edits. But version control can even be more granular, within the document as well. For example, requirement one might be on version three, which is linked to test B on version two.

Add that to consolidating feedback from multiple stakeholders via email or meetings, analyzing the impact of change across various versions of requirements artifacts, and communicating the correct changes and statuses to the right people. It’s a nightmare just thinking about how to keep it all straight.

The following are the top five challenges of requirements management:

  • Last-minute feedback
  • Decision rehashing
  • Change tax
  • Attention deficit
  • Mismatched expectations

It’s easy to recognize that problems are compounded when managing requirements using documents, or legacy systems based on documents, instead of a purpose-built requirements management tool. Most of these challenges, and more, can be overcome by switching from a document-centric to a data-centric approach to requirements management.

How to successfully manage requirements in complex products and highly regulated industries

The challenges above are real and mastering them can have significant impact on development timelines and budget. Developers in regulated industries — like automotive, aerospace, medical device, government, and industrial manufacturing — are further challenged by the need to prove compliance with regulations and standards.

Standards and Regulations can be a source of a large number of requirements the product must be compliant. Often not all of the requirements in a regulation or standard apply to your specific product. Often standards and regulations contain requirements not only on a product, but on the organization developing the product, as well as requirements concerning system verification and system validation (acceptance, certification, and qualification).

In addition, often requirements within standards and regulations are written poorly and ambiguously. As part of identifying drivers and constraints at the beginning of the project, the project team needs to identify which standards and regulations apply to their product and which requirements in those standards and regulations apply as well. Then they must write well-formed product requirements to address the intent of those requirements that will result in a product that is compliant with the applicable standards and regulations.

Regulations are not requirements. Requirements must be written to adequately satisfy the regulatory standards. A keen understanding of the standards or regulations is paramount in writing requirements that will lead to a product’s compliance. Once written, a regulatory requirement should be attributed as such in all requirements artifacts. This can be done be assigning a “compliance” attribute. This provides all team members visibility throughout development, which assists with decision making and change analysis.

In addition to expert knowledge of the standards and regulations, the following are needed to maintain product compliance when building a product:

  • Collaboration between teams
  • Single source of truth for defining, verifying, and validating compliance requirements
  • Standard frameworks aligned to standards and regulations
  • Traceability across all development activities and resulting artifacts.
  • Simplified audit preparation and data exports

Reporting is key when faced with a compliance audit. Teams must know what data is required for the audit and how to easily access it when needed. Often, audit trails are an afterthought in which teams are scrambling to pull together data from several sources. This is a dangerous practice, though, because it can risk delivery timelines and delay launch, or risk failing to launch altogether. Any teams that must show compliance, must eliminate this risk with a digital, detailed audit trail that can be easily exported whenever needed. Establishing and managing traceability is critical to be able to maintain the audit trail.

Many leaders in regulated industries rely on requirements management tools to reduce the risk of failure to comply with standards and regulations during the product development process. Jama Connect, for example, can track standards and regulations and compliance when building products. These industry leaders leverage Jama Connect to keep them at the forefront of innovation:

Benefits of requirements management tools

The advantages of requirements management tools are many. A modern solution can eliminate the risks and inefficiencies of documents and legacy systems.

A valuable requirements management system, like Jama Connect, can bridge engineering siloes throughout the development process, including test and risk activities. An effective tool helps improve the product development process by:

  • Ensuring quality and compliance
  • Managing risk
  • Increasing efficiency and optimizing processes
  • Easily understanding and responding to change
  • Improving traceability
  • Streamlining and accelerating reviews
  • Enabling real-time collaboration and iteration
  • Saving time
  • Improving quality

There are many requirements management tools available, but only a few that can help reap all the benefits listed above. When thinking about the most important features in a requirements management system, first think about what’s being built. The industry and complexity level will help inform the features that will be best for your team. This guide to buying a requirements management tool may also help.

From our experience, and what we hear from customers, the most important features of a requirements management system are:

The good news is that you don’t have to pick and choose. Jama Connect helps navigate complexity and provides end-to-end compliance, risk mitigation, and process improvement with all the features listed above—and more.

See how Jama Connect can streamline complex requirements management.

Backed by a legacy of engineering excellence, reliability, and industry-leading customer service, Telesat is one of the largest and most successful global satellite operators. Telesat works collaboratively with its customers to deliver critical connectivity solutions that tackle the world’s most complex communications challenges, providing powerful advantages that improve their operations and drive profitable growth.

Continuously innovating to meet the connectivity demands of the future, Telesat Lightspeed, the company’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite network, will be the first and only LEO network optimized to meet the rigorous requirements of telecom, government, maritime, and aeronautical customers. Operating under its global priority Ka-band spectrum rights, Telesat Lightspeed will redefine global satellite connectivity with ubiquitous, affordable, high-capacity links with fibre-like speeds.

Selecting Jama Connect – Objectives and Evaluation Process

From a state-of-the-art global, geostationary satellite fleet, to their Low Earth Orbit network, Telesat has a long history of building some of the most advanced communication systems in the world.

When the Telesat team embarked on a major new project to deliver its next-generation LEO satellite network, they knew it was time to look holistically at the portfolio of software and tools available to their engineering staff to ensure that they had what they needed to be successful.

Enabling connectivity across the planet is no easy undertaking. And the team views it as a lighthouse investment into the future of Telesat as a business.

“Starting a program of this complexity and scale really motivated us to think critically about how we manage our engineering practice and the tools that we use.” – Nicholas “Donnie” Laughton Director, Software Architecture and Engineering at Telesat. 

With robust and experienced systems engineering practices already in place, it was crucial to the team that they use a deliberate and considered approach to selecting the right requirements management solution.

Their key objectives were to find a formal requirements management solution that:

  • Would allow them to pivot from a documents-based approach to data-driven requirements
  • Had robust capabilities and flexibility
  • Was easy to implement and use

RELATED: Jama Connect in the Digital Engineering Ecosystem

At the beginning of the project, the team was able to use a documents-based approach to requirements gathering. However, as the conceptual phase of the LEO project ended and technical documentation started, the team knew they needed to pivot to a formal requirements management solution.

The importance of finding the right requirements management solution was not lost on the team, either. While their requirements management solution needed to have robust capabilities and flexibility, it also needed to be easy to implement and easy to use.

“We knew we needed to find a solution that gave us enough flexibility to manage requirements oriented at both software and hardware, but also not so complex that it required a full-time system admin to manage the platform,” said Laughton.

“Implementing the right tools and processes for our engineering team is critical to the future of our business. If we don’t manage our requirements well, it may impact our ability to meet our in-service target dates, which could negatively impact start of commercial service. The markets are demanding agility and these tools will help us be responsive to that demand.” Nicholas “Donnie” Laughton Director, Software Architecture and Engineering at Telesat. 

As a mature satellite operator with proven performance in spacecraft development and system operations, it’s not surprising that the Telesat team had a very stringent evaluation process for implementing new technologies. When Telesat embarks on selecting new engineering tools, they perform what’s called a weighted trade study. A simplified version of this trade study can be seen below.

Download the full customer story here to see why Telesat selected Jama Connect, and to hear about the incredible results.

I was the IBM® DOORS® Product Manager for nearly 20 years and the roller coaster journey was fun.  I started by managing the creation of an integration between DOORS and Mercury TestDirector and eventually picked up the DOORS family, working with Telelogic and then on to the acquisition by IBM. 

How did DOORS become a market leader? 

“If Bill Gates can have Windows, I want to have DOORS. Now tell me, what does DOORS mean?” 

Initially created by QSS and then Telelogic, DOORS was the market leading requirements tool in the 1990s and into the 2000s. Industry analysts moved focus to application lifecycle management (ALM) solutions in the 2010s and it was difficult for any vendor to claim a defined market share, let alone market leadership. 

Three decades ago, it was possible to persuade prime contractors to mandate use of a single tool across their entire supply chain. With early success in the UK defense industry, DOORS became the market leading requirements tool; in the early 90s there was only two tools to choose between. Rational® entered the requirements business in 1998 and held 2nd place in the market.   

The acquisition of Rational and then Telelogic into IBM saturated the requirements market from a single vendor, spread over four different requirements solutions: DOORS, Requirements Composer, Requisite Pro, and Rational® DOORS® Next Generation. Only two now survive to make up the DOORS family. 

Where are we today with requirements management solutions? 

Working styles have changed dramatically since the 90’s and teams are being asked to move fast and work collaboratively with teams across the organization. In order to satisfy this new way of working, requirements management vendors needed to adapt and invest in the interface and useability of their products.  

Users are demanding ease of use so more people can enter information directly into a tool rather than sending Word or Excel documents to a tool user for import.  

The industry has changed. It’s no longer possible for an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to mandate a single product or vendor across supply chains and in fact, standards such as ReqIF (exchange) and OSLC (integration) have come about to help products work better together. Again, this requires investment from the vendors so that interoperation does not sit just within a single tool chain.   

What’s next after DOORS? 

Requirements management has been accepted by the engineering industry as an essential discipline, no matter which process is used, or which type of system is being produced. What changes is the level of formality adopted (process), or regulation needed to be complied with (industry standard). 

Best practices for systems engineering have been prescribed in many industries. It’s not just about DO178 or ISO 9001, we now see engineering regulation or compliance needs in automotive, medical, finance, and many other industries.   

It is no longer possible for a single product or vendor to drown a marketplace. We have different users wishing to make their own decisions about which best of breed solutions are right for their organization. One tool will not fit all user’s needs. An organizations investment in their data is far more than the investment they make in tools, and the focus now comes down to availability of data and how that flows across an engineering community (integration) and the value chain (exchange). Don’t forget, it’s your data – not the vendor’s! 

In summary 

I have seen that there is life after being the Product Manager for DOORS and have chosen to work with a vendor (Jama Software) that has a single focus on engineering, reinvesting revenues into their products and therefore, investing in their users. Let’s see where this next roller coaster takes me. One thing I know for certain, there’s more fun ahead! 

Digital TransformationDigital transformation is an urgent priority for businesses in 2021. Many organizations accelerated their digital transformation efforts during the pandemic and rapidly adopted a variety of tools; but looking to the future, it’s critical that you take a deep dive into what digital transformation can offer your business — and the best tools to achieve your goals. Digital transformation is not just about adopting more tools, it’s about adopting the right tools.

A critical area of opportunity is product development. Processes in this area are often fragmented across a variety of teams, all working in silos. This puts organizations at risk for product delays, defects, cost overruns, failed verifications and validations, recalls, and more. Two major challenges are:

  1. Critical information is fragmented. Product development processes are fragmented and siloed within teams.
  2. Critical data is trapped. The requirements that specify dependencies and outcomes are trapped within static documents.

Many organizations still use document-based requirements management workflows, which creates fragmentation and doesn’t help companies better serve their customers or get products to market faster. Additionally, product development teams don’t have visibility into what they need most, and communication is siloed and disconnected. Adopting end-to-end visibility supports stronger digital transformation and helps you get products to market faster and with greater efficiency.

Why Document-Based Requirements Management Isn’t Designed for the Future

Over half of product launches (55%) don’t happen on time. The root cause is often product development issues, such as missed bugs or “feature creep.” Using document-based requirements complicates challenges because there may be many different versions of the same document floating around an organization. Stakeholders struggle to connect, give feedback and provide timely approvals. Additionally, as a company grows, managing documents in this way is not scalable.

The result is product teams spending a large amount of time on manual tasks, in some cases more time than they would spend developing and managing the actual requirements. Improved collaboration is possible if organizations use solutions that enable real-time interactions, shorter review cycles and a consolidated system of record. This creates a single source of truth that supports more efficient product development and digital transformation.

RELATED POST: What is the Digital Thread?

How creating a single source of truth supports digital transformation

Fragmentation and confusion occur when project activities are spread out across many different communication channels. Teams face difficulties creating a cohesive workflow and getting everyone on the same page. A few potential challenges of not having a single source of truth are:

  • Projects evolve in an “out of sync” environment. Key updates manually circulating in lengthy documents may be lost in inboxes. A disconnected communication process complicates the tracking requirements and can even change them, resulting in different versions of the truth.
  • Stakeholders are confused about which document is the latest version. Lack of cohesive communication may leave confusion about which version of a document is the most up to date. Teams may work in silos and make time-consuming errors due to this issue.
  • A document-based approach creates extra manual work. A document-based approach, such as one using Word or Excel, isn’t designed for managing requirements, leaving additional manual work. For example, teams may need to create their own processes for adhering to industry standards.

A platform that centralizes everything in a single system of record offers a single source of truth that is often missing from many product development processes.

RELATED POST: Requirements Management – Living, Not Static

Centralizing Your Requirements in a Single Platform

Digital transformation is about delivering value through improved understanding of data, alignment of data and the ability to act on that data. Achieving a single source of truth by centralizing your requirements in one platform enables you to secure a competitive edge in the market.

As product development processes become more complicated, traditional document-based requirements management has revealed its age and limitations. To successfully move from a document-based process, you need a solution that can do the following:

  • Supports real-time communication and provides the full context of conversations.
  • Provides a single system of record for requirements, risks and tests.
  • Supports risk analysis throughout the entire development process.
  • Allows for easy exporting of reports to prove compliance and pass audits.
  • Offers end-to-end traceability that enables you to view the impact of a change prior to its being made and ensure product quality with complete coverage.

Jama Connect enables real-time collaboration in one convenient location and replaces fragmented workflows spread across multiple documents and communication channels. Collaborators can easily manage requirements and risks in a single system in real time, which results in a single source of truth. This helps you prevent many of the challenges that arise from emailing collaborators with new changes or requirements, or requesting that comments be left in a Word or Excel document.

RELATED POST: The Importance of Centralizing Your Requirements in One Platform

Moving Into the Future

True digital transformation requires organizations to evaluate how technology can support the right strategy, generate accurate insights and foster informed decision-making. When looking at strategies to integrate digital transformation into your organization, consider leveraging a competitive advantage in the area of product development.

Doing this successfully enables you to simplify complex development cycles, bridge collaboration gaps, build quality products, get to market faster and reduce risk around compliance.

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


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.


Requirements Management ToolsWith a top requirements management tool, your teams can better navigate complex product development cycles while adapting to evolving business demands and regulatory environments. Instead of legacy requirements management solutions or document-based processes, harness the power of Jama Connect to centralize your requirements in one solution and reduce risks and inefficiencies at every stage of the product lifecycle. 

Centralize Your Requirements 

Jama Connect is a modern requirements management tool, built for handling today’s demanding workflows and navigating all the complexity that comes with them.  

Jama Connect provides: 

Ease of Use  

Benefit from an intuitive browser-based interface that creates and exceptional user experience because fast team adoption and ease of collaboration between users means faster time-to-market.  

Single Source of Truth 

Increase cross-team visibility, and structure real-time collaboration, formal reviews and sign-off to build consensus and support informed decision-making across the entire product lifecycle. 

Live, Actionable Traceability 

Experience an end-to-end live view of connected people, data, and processes within your organization, to reduce risk and achieve an easier path to compliance than possible with a manual process. 

Reuse Functionality 

Reuse existing content, templates, and relationships so you can manage complex product lifecycles through multiple versions and iterations, in turn dramatically reducing your typical design cycle time. 

Open Architecture 

Utilize our best-in-class solution with an ecosystem of industry-leading integrations with preferred tools such as Jira, along with a REST API for making your own custom integrations. 

Culture of Customer Success 

See time-to-value with our adoption-oriented services team and comprehensive customer care which includes online tutorials, the Jama community, and exceptional tech support to ensure your success. 

RELATED POST: Requirements Management – Living NOT Static

Modernize Your Development Process 

Document-based workflows and legacy requirements management tools sharply increase risk across the product development process. They create time-consuming extra work, put pressure on budgets, and result in poor overall requirements management, which dooms many projects. 

Jama Connect is designed to deliver a more streamlined experience that will help you seize opportunities and eliminate all of these sources of friction. 

Reduce Rework by Understanding and Responding to Change 

With full traceability in Jama Connect, teams can accurately monitor their progress and connect individual requirements to key stakeholders. This allows for superior communication about the implications of all changes, along with improved capacity to respond to them. Teams gain access to the most up-to-date information reducing the amount of costly rework and late-stage changes. 

Gain Visibility and Enable More Productive Collaboration 

Jama Connect’s detailed dashboards and multiple integrations across the ALM-PLM landscape make it easier to keep track of what’s being built and why. For example, you can combine Jama Connect’s requirements management capabilities with Jira’s task management features to increase visibility and alignment throughout the development process, resulting in more effective collaboration. 

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

Improve Efficiency and Optimize Product Development Processes 

Best-of-breed requirements management tools replace the siloed activities and data sources of document-based processes. From one interface, it’s possible to manage all requirements tests and create the traceability that supports more efficient product development. And Jama Connect’s many integrations deliver more flexibility than legacy requirements management platforms, which weren’t built for integrated systems or modern methodologies. 

Gain Visibility and Collaborate Better 

Jama Connect helps you accelerate product development. It’s a requirements management tool that not only reduces manual rework and integrates with a wide variety of solutions, but also provides a single source of truth and a common point of control.  

Requirements can be created, reviewed, validated, and verified on the same platform, thanks to features that let your team: 

  • Gain clear insights across the definition, design, build, and test phases. 
  • See relationships and dependencies between systems, teams, actions, and results. 
  • Conduct real-time virtual reviews of comments, revisions, and approvals. 
  • Work within multiple methodologies, including lean and Agile software development. 
  • Use templates and configurations to comply with industry best practices and regulations. 
  • Visualize how each test traces back to a requirement, for better compliance and quality. 
  • Reuse requirements so that important features can be replicated across products. 
Simplify Change Management 

A seemingly minor project change can have major ripple effects across your development process. What is the potential impact of making even bigger changes to a project? Jama Connect gives you the answers you need to these questions and others that arise during the product lifecycle. 

Live Traceability 

With Jama Connect as your requirements management tool, you can navigate upstream and downstream relationships, quickly identify gaps in test coverage, and filter and export views specific to your products. People and items impacted by any change are also automatically highlighted for easier review. 

Real-Time Collaboration 

Prioritize your most important decisions, flag risks and opportunities, and shorten development cycles with Jama Connect’s collaboration capabilities. Stakeholders can be easily identified and pulled in as needed, gain visibility into all connected users on each project, as well as stream discussions and notifications. 

Accelerated Decision Tracking and Reviews 

With Jama Connect, stakeholders (on-site or distributed) can conduct comprehensive virtual reviews, share requirements and feedback, approve or reject items, identify priorities, and even add electronic signatures to projects. It’s the ideal tool to help accelerate tests and requirements and keep your development process on target. 

Seamlessly Integrate with Your Development Tech Stack 

Jama Connects lets you get even more value from your existing testing and quality assurance setup. Many integrations between Jama Connect and other ALM-PLM solutions are available, so that your team can continue to use its preferred tools while ensuring complete traceability. A REST API is also available for crafting custom integrations with Jama Connect. 

Get Started With Jama Connect 

Ready to learn more about how Jama Connect delivers an all-in-one requirements management solution to transform your processes and see more effective cross-team collaboration, reduced rework, simplified compliance, and faster time to market? 

Learn more about how Jama Connect streamlines development process and speeds time to market.