Tag Archive for: Requirements Traceability Software

requirements traceability

In this post, we recap a recent webinar hosted by Jama Software on the topic of requirements traceability. 

As the product and software development process grows in complexity, with more and more teams adding information, it is becoming increasingly difficult to track requirements throughout the development lifecycle and for stakeholders to get a clear view. Every decision can have an impact on the requirement or the product itself.

How do you prevent your organization from wasting time and resources, repeating research and searching for information, and how do you ensure that final deliverables tie in directly to the initial business needs?

That’s where requirements traceability becomes very important.

In this webinar, we walk through the challenges of requirements traceability and how you can utilize Jama Connect to overcome them. Watch the webinar to see how to provide backward and forward visibility for requirements, but also other information about the product you are building. You will also see how easy it is to do an impact analysis, to generate reports, and get an overview of how your requirements tie together.

Read the abbreviated transcript below or watch the recording to learn more about:

  • Best practices for requirements traceability in a modern solution
  • The easy and intuitive way you link your information in Jama Connect
  • How Jama Connect can be leveraged to help with impact analysis
  • Understanding suspects and traceability views

Martijn Jansson: When we talk about capturing data, we all know data in our organizations in different forms exist, so we have documents, and we have Excel sheets, and those Excel sheets contain rows and all those rows have the data around a certain requirement on a certain topic. Now, that’s all fine, but what we actually are after, what we really want from the system is information. Information gets created by building relationships and structure around those data assets in the system. When you do that, you basically empower your users and the ecosystem around you to find that information and to go along the relationship you build to get context on the data they are looking at.  

 Now, you can go a step higher with that, and that would be the top of the triangle is the knowledge part. The knowledge part means that you actually have to consider capturing the decision on the change you do on the information. We’ll touch you a little bit on that today, but that’s also in part a possibility in the Jama Connect.  

 The benefits of getting that information related, as I stated, you can trace those relations back to get to the source of where your data started, what was the first part that you actually started off from, what was the decision point, where did you start with capturing that requirement? Also, at a higher level, you can have an overview of what will happen when you change that specific part of information or piece of information. What will the ripple down effect be when I start changing that specific part?  

 And then on the learning part on the actual knowledge part, you want to capture the why of a change, so why did we change it? If you go back in time and you look at those changes, you can actually find back why you made the change and why you decided to, for instance, have a status changed or a requirement changed.  

RELATED: G2 Names Jama Connect® the Leader in Requirements Management Software

 And of course, you do not do that in your own ecosystem. You have many, many connections around you that have input on those decisions and have input on those connections, so engineering partners, customers, other departments within the company can be invited to take part in that process. We’ll take a look at that a little bit later on.  

 So, in the Jama Connect solution, we will take a look at the first part for data to information, so how do we actually relate information together and what is involved in building those relationships. And when I have them, what leverage, what value can and benefits can I get out of those relationships and what kind of overview do they give me? Now then, on the question part, we’ll take a little look as well on all the different areas where Jama Connect allows you to collaborate and to capture decisions and information on the changes you make during the process of building up your requirement.  

Why would we do all these exercises in the system? What is the underlying question? There’s a number of questions we get on a daily basis from our customers when it comes to traceability, so questions like, did we miss anything? Are we building a product that is still complying to what we originally set out to do? What was the original requirement? Where do we start off from? Do we have everything covered when it comes to the validation or the actual testing of parts? The embracing change is something that a lot of customers are on different levels when it comes to how they approach change, but when you look at change, and actually before you do the change, you can see what will happen if you do change that item and what will happen if you start editing the information you have at the top level or at a medium level, it gives you a lot more insight into what will happen and what will the impact be for the organization. So, change becomes a bit more, let’s say, easier to look at and to decide what you want to do.  

 Then lastly, the validation part is one I highlighted. When I have all these items and places, information and plans, how can I go back and say, “Okay, I have everything validated. I have everything verified. I’m compliant to standards internally or external standards or processes that we set out to comply to.”  

Watch the full webinar to learn more about best practices for requirements traceability.


What is requirements traceability

Product complexity is growing at an exponential rate. As it does, requirements move between more and more departments and stakeholders throughout the course of the development process. Requirements traceability helps product teams overcome one of the biggest challenges they face with requirements management.

The number of decision points is higher than it’s ever been. Each decision needs to be made understanding the impact on the requirement itself and on the product overall. It is essential to maintain visibility into the activity taking place and to be able to tie it all together.

That’s where requirements traceability comes in. What follows is a look at the definition of requirements traceability, as well as its purpose, importance, and benefits. You’ll also find common challenges of requirements traceability, along with a few ideas to help you start overcoming those obstacles today.

What is requirements traceability?

Requirements traceability is the tracking of requirements throughout the product development lifecycle. It is a documented thread that provides forward and backward visibility into all activity surrounding each requirement (including design, development, testing, and support). Requirements traceability helps minimize the risk of negative outcomes and maximize productivity. Its benefits include greater team efficiency, easier regulatory compliance, and higher-quality products.

Complex Upstream and Downstream Requirements Traceability

The purpose and importance of requirements traceability

Requirements traceability enables product teams to associate a specific requirement with all the related project artifacts, as well as other requirements, both forward and backward, so that anyone can see how the activity relates to the requirement—and vice versa—at any point during development. This functionality, also called live traceability, fosters team collaboration and enables early detection of possible production risks.

Think of it this way: How important is it to have your products developed correctly in terms of definition, quality, and timing? Mission critical, right? That’s why requirements traceability is so critical.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of requirements traceability throughout the product development lifecycle. For example, live traceability:

  • Simplifies project estimates
  • Enhances process visibility
  • Increases development efficiency
  • Improves impact analysis of change
  • Demonstrates verification and validation
  • Strengthens product quality
  • Proves compliance or functional safety

A single line of sight on a requirement, or a digital thread, is supremely important for application lifecycle management (ALM) and product lifecycle management (PLM). Both endure tight timelines and increasing numbers of requirements — including those from regulations, where compliance is non-negotiable.

Knowing the relationship between requirements, risk, tests, and so forth, is the difference between developing a compliant product on time and getting stuck in rework, delaying launches, and dealing with unhappy stakeholders. With requirements traceability, you don’t have to compromise on speed or quality.

The bottom line is that end-to-end traceability confirms you’re building the right thing and helps you prove compliance or functional safety. Without requirements traceability your development efficiency and product quality are in jeopardy.

Forward and backward traceability: The mechanics of creating a digital thread

To connect all the phases of the product development lifecycle, from customer needs through support, four distinct kinds of links must be used to thread the process end-to-end. This includes high-level requirements as well as derived requirements—those not specifically defined but necessary for meeting defined requirements or having the system work as expected. Derived requirements must also be adequately traced to reap the full benefits of live traceability.

RELATED POST: Building an Audit Trail Through Live Traceability

What is forward traceability?

There are two kinds of forward traceability: forward to requirements and forward from requirements. They both trace from an upstream component to downstream artifacts. The difference is in where they begin.

Forward to requirements traces from customer need to requirements. This is important because customer needs can evolve over time. If they do, requirements may need to change as a result. Following this type of forward traceability enables teams to be informed of changes in priorities at any time throughout development.

Forward from requirements traces relationships between requirements and corresponding downstream artifacts, including test cases. This type of trace ensures that each requirement is not only satisfied but verified and validated.

Backward Trace

What is backward traceability? 

Like forward traceability, there are two kinds of backward traceability. This pair traces from an endpoint, or downstream work product, to upstream elements. The two types of backward traceability have differing starting points.

Backward from requirements gives insight on how a requirement came to be by linking the requirement to the customer use case it addresses. This enables teams to improve decision making by understanding the origin of a requirement.

Backward to requirements begins at performed work and traces to its requirement. It gives visibility into why specific items were created and how different pieces of a system fit together. Tracing in this way also allows testers to find gaps or missing requirements.

RELATED POST: Checklist: Selecting a Requirements Management Tool

What is bidirectional traceability?

Bidirectional requirements traceability is the ability to perform both forward and backward traceability. Bidirectional traceability is the optimal type of traceability because it gives teams full visibility from requirements specifications through building, testing, changes, defects, and back again. Traceability of this caliber can only be achieved through automated requirements management tools, such as Jama Connect®.

Requirements Traceability Relationship Map

Common challenges of requirements traceability

If all this sounds like traceability is too difficult, fear not. While there are some challenges to requirements traceability, there are also many templates and tools you can use to streamline the process (more on that below). For now, let’s tackle some of the challenges so you can see how they can be overcome.

Differing organizational viewpoints.

Not everyone has the same understanding of why and how traceability should be performed. Stakeholders in sponsor or management positions may only view requirements traceability from a standard or regulatory perspective. They see it as a “must-have” but may not understand the additional benefits of requirements traceability (as discussed above) in the way a project or systems engineer might.

One way to tackle this obstacle is to educate stakeholders on what can be achieved if end-to-end traceability is achieved. Share this article with everyone involved in your development process so they can have a basic understanding of why requirements traceability is an essential part of requirements management, beyond simply knowing they need it to cover their bases.

Organization-wide adoption.

There are a variety of reasons a company might be slow to adopt traceability. Training is one such example. As considered regarding stakeholders, not all teams or individuals working on a project know why traceability is so crucial, or they simply may not know how to execute proper traceability correctly. Additionally, some people may be worried that traceability data from their decision points could come back to bite them.

If this is a challenge for your organization, again, education is imperative. But even beyond that, you need to create a culture in which traceability is seen as an inherent part of the development process. Start by creating clear policies regarding how the organization manages traceability. Then develop a positive training program for all new and existing employees to complete. If you choose a requirements management tool, make sure it has a strong track record of being intuitive and easy to use software that adapts to your process—not the other way around.

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

Cost of implementation.

Getting an entire development organization on the same page regarding requirements traceability, then ensuring proper execution, can be a costly endeavor. The time spent developing policies, conducting training, and creating/maintaining traceability data add up and can even make folks feel less productive. Additionally, you may choose to adopt a traceability tool to streamline your process, which means upfront costs will be higher than previous projects.

Overcoming this obstacle requires a mindset change. We urge you to consider the cost of doing nothing. Unproductive work time, lengthy time-to-market, rework, and defects are all extremely expensive symptoms of inadequate requirements traceability. Each of these carries a hefty price tag. For a look at exactly how much these complications could be costing your organization, check out the calculators on pages 9-11 in our Buyer’s Guide. While there are costs to implementing requirements traceability and management tools, the amount saved throughout the development process far outweighs the short-term investment.

Managing change.

When building complex products, change is inevitable. It is essential that team members know about the changes and scope their impact across the product development lifecycle. That means looking closely at any related system requirements, downstream requirements, and verification tests that may be affected.

Performing this activity can be cumbersome and time consuming with manual requirements traceability tools. And the associated risks are similar to doing nothing, simply because you cannot be sure you’ve accounted for everything when dealing with static documents and human error.

If you’ve experienced this setback in your organization, it may be time to explore automated requirements management tools that enable live traceability with living requirements.

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

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

Improper management tools.

Some development teams are still tracing requirement relationships using Word or Excel documents and collaborating via email. A Requirements Traceability Matrix is one example of a document that manually traces elements of requirements management including, business requirements, objectives, design elements, and test cases via a spreadsheet. Teams input the list of requirements and fill in the related data. The spreadsheet is static but is updated manually by the team throughout the development lifecycle.

There can be advantages to using a Requirements Traceability Matrix if you are developing a product that doesn’t have many requirements. And it is better than not tracing at all. You can even use a template to create a Requirements Traceability Matrix. However, if your product is complex, with many requirements, you’ll likely experience many of the challenges discussed above.

In the case of complex products, a Requirements Traceability Matrix does not have the functionality you’ll need to keep up with the pace of change and create a quality product in the timeframe required by stakeholders. Flexible requirements management tools like Jama Connect can even capture trace relationships across teams and toolsets, further enhancing the benefits of traceability.

Insufficient compliance framework.

Regulated industries need requirements management to demonstrate compliance with industry standards. There are specific ways reviewers and regulators must receive regulatory submissions. To pass an audit you must present proof of comprehensive traceability.

If comprehensive traceability wasn’t performed throughout your development process, a lot of time will be committed to gathering the necessary information after the fact. Even if traceability was meticulously maintained in Word or Excel, there will still be time spent compiling it into an acceptable format for regulatory submission. In the meantime, competitors that make traceability inherent to their process will be first to market.

Sound familiar? Luckily, there are tools that perform end-to-end traceability and come with frameworks aligned with industry standards. Requirements management tools like Jama Connect simplify the audit process with export templates, thus speeding up the compliance presentation process.

RELATED POST: Requirements Management Tools and Software

Templates and tools to streamline the requirements traceability process

There are numerous tools available to assist with the requirements traceability process. It’s important to assess your needs to know what is best for you.

Are you creating a straightforward product that doesn’t have functional safety or regulatory requirements? If so, a Requirements Traceability Matrix may suffice. Download this Requirements Traceability Matrix template to get started today.

Are you creating a multifaceted product with both software and hardware components? Will you be required to prove functional safety or regulatory compliance? In these cases, you’ll need a requirements management tool with bidirectional traceability and compliance templates you can easily export.

Here’s some additional recommended content on traceability you might find helpful:

This post is the second in a three-part series on traceability. If you missed the first one, you can catch up here: Decision Accountability: Three Ways Traceability Evolved to Make Complex Decisions Possible.  

Product development process tools have evolved. They’ve had to. To keep up with the many dimensions of requirement, test, and risk information used to define modern software and hardware, all development artifacts must play nicely together, continuously and at scale. 

Software trends in general leverage dense, dynamic, and interconnected information on demand – think everything from social networking to enterprise trendanalytics tools. Those capabilities prove hugely valuable when you must make complex product decisions effectivelyWe’ve only just started to see how requirements traceability tools use these new software abilities to benefit from the product development artifacts builders have been creating all along. But it’s enough so we can look at what’s happening now and plan ahead for the future.

1. Traceability visibility makes it easy to share changes with an entire team at once.


In 2020 
Today, traceability works like map; it’s not limited to single table view. Maps exist to help you navigate to a destination. Similarly, traceability guides daily decisions that lead you to build a product close to your original vision (your destination). It’s a means to an end in that way — more like what we have on our phones, less like the paper maps of the past that become outdated when new construction changes the landscape. If your map constantly changed, you’d never see the whole picture. But if people ahead of you could update changes from a central location and share it with everybody, no one would feel lost.  

Less manual effort. 
Keeping the trace “map” up to date with as little manual effort as possible will be essentialEven if the ways people view traceability become more advanced, the work to create and maintain those views doesn’t have to increase. 

Sample of a relationship diagram in Jama Connect.


2. Traceability links are built as you go, automatically.

In 2020

Major decision points, reviews, and approvals are certainly captured in final requirements documents and other artifactsHowever, seeing those associated to requirements as you work is the next level of traceability. Traceability in context allows for faster and more informed decision making. These live references, not just names of items in documents, can exist across versions of items, across time.

More nuance captured, related, and parsed for meaning. Improvements in software makes data gathering more precise, and increases the number of actions considered relevant, traceable information. Conversations, for example, are already relevant information to trace decisions to (both implicit and explicit decisions).  

Easily view conversations in Jama Connect and see how decisions occurred in Review Center.


3. Traceability generates metadata for real-time product health and other signals.


In 2020
Today, users can expect to view traceability success, and not just in yes/no” or covered/not-covered summary report. The status of the connected items matters, as do open questions about those items, and insight into whether they have recently undergone changes. Information about the items themselves impact the meaning of traceability – it’s more than a line connecting things. 

More attributes can define or even predict a project’s successThe benefit of a data-rich, detailed record of dozens or hundreds of activities tied together to achieve a project goal makes it possible to understand the past with more context and less reliance on costly manual documentation or memory 

The traceability view in Jama Connect provides context so you can see what’s connected upstream and downstream. 


4. Traceability powers meaningful accountability behavior so you can see interconnections as they happen.

In 2020
Whether someone is authoring, reviewing, signing off, or just reading artifacts or documents for contextvisibility into all relevant, related data is expected. Ideally, that data is linked directly from where they’re working. The benefit of building artifact relationships throughout the development process is seeing these interconnections live, as things change, not just at milestones.  

Systems holding information relevant to the requirements driving products will start to feel even closer and more interconnected. Even through more dense integration and aligned processes, systems will still feel controlled and connected.   

Review the activity stream in Jama Connect to see who’s done what on which items and understand how data permeates to all contexts. 


5. Traceability shows the impact on people, not just work artifacts.


In 2020
At the end of the day, connecting items is about making sense of multiple people’s decisions to build and test something. Why did they follow that processWhat factors led them to make the choices they made? Traceability has evolved to help find out whose work is related to yours as you go, continuously. In early traceability matrices there wasn’t necessarily room to include the dozens of columns you might find relevant later, like authors or commenters. Today, that’s no longer an issue. Traceability can appear in multiple views for multiple purposes, even if the ultimate end goal is an exported document proving you built and tested what you intended.  

Expansion of communication and quick, on-demand review ability for stakeholders impacted by changes. The ease of the review process will become an integral and more continuous part of the development processes, because of the  ability to easily see who is impacted by changes The availability of a full audit trail of participation makes the difference.

Easily see who’s connected to items in Jama Connect to gain more visibility into reviews. 

Traceability promises efficiency throughout the 2020s.

Software has come a long way in taking 
primarily document-based requirements management and molding it to our modern work environment and habits. Product decisions were always multi-faceted, but today the interwoven nature of products adds a whole new challenge. Traceability offers a solution that help people manage those challenges and work efficiently 

Go deeper on the topic of traceability in our eBook, “The Jama Software Guide to Requirements Traceability.”


If you’re responsible for the requirements traceability of your complex product, do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

Scenario One: You just heard that a critical business requirement needs to change and be accounted for in the upcoming release. You need to know how this change will impact work downstream and how the system specification your engineers are working with will change. Immediately.

Scenario Two: Your QA team just found a critical bug in your most anticipated new feature and you’re two weeks away from launch. Do you ship with the known bug and hope to patch it later, or delay the launch? Will this impact your upcoming audit? You need to know who is working on this feature, who else needs to be notified and weigh in on the decision and know what other aspects of the product may be impacted. Immediately.

These scenarios, and countless others like them, affect engineering teams every day. And as software, embedded systems and external sensors contribute to product complexity (not to mention the complications that arise when you’re trying to unify multiple teams that contribute to a product) there is no chance that manual processes and static documentation can scale to support accurate impact analysis and quick decision-making. Requirements may be recorded, but if they’re not in a system of action, in situations like those above, you cannot effectively manage.

Gartner highlights one of the main reasons why companies struggle to achieve the benefits of traceability:

“The most widely adopted tools for requirements continue to be general document software such as Microsoft Office or Google Docs (40% to 50% of the market) due to cost, availability and familiarity. Yet these often lead to poorly managed requirements, thus eliminating and exceeding any cost benefit the tools themselves have. Requirements end up captured in a variety of documents and spreadsheets supplemented by post-it notes in unmanaged versions with no traceability or reuse. This creates a more costly user acceptance testing cycle, both in the time to execute as well as remediation of issues found late in the process, where they are far more costly to address.”

Read more about the Gartner Market Guide for Software Requirements Definition and Management Solutions.

Software and hardware teams must work together in tight collaboration throughout the development process to define market requirements, functional requirements, test cases and other artifacts that define the scope of what you’re building are related in some fashion, either directly or indirectly. This becomes difficult when the teams use different tools and terminology, and work in different cadences with difference methodologies.

Adopting these four best practices around modern requirements management and requirements traceability will help your team ensure product quality, decrease time-to-market, and achieve regulatory compliance.

Four Best Practices for Requirements Traceability


1. Connect stakeholders and contributors to the requirements they care about to ensure the right people can weigh in on important decisions at the right time.

Traceable relationships are as much about connecting the people as they are about connecting the requirements themselves. Each requirement in the system has members of the team associated with it — analysts, architects, development, verification and quality assurance among them — and stakeholders and customers who care about its status. With connected relationships built into your project you can quickly get interested parties involved in decision making.

2. Automate bi-directional requirements traceability to minimize risk and ensure quality.

Manually updating an old-style traceability matrix is not only cumbersome and time consuming, it leaves open the risk for human error. In the development of safety-critical products like medical devices and airplanes, this risk isn’t acceptable. And it’s difficult to prove to an auditor that you got it right.

Key to managing requirements traceability is the ability to view source requirements and their related items downstream to lower-level requirements and then back to the source, and know the status of those items at each step of the product development process. Because this data may be stored in multiple systems, it’s key to be able to connect tools via open APIs and automatically pull data into a single actionable system with visualized coverage of these trace relationships.

Learn more about the limitations of a document-based requirements management approach, and how to get the most out of your requirements management by downloading our whitepaper.

3. Connect data, conversations, and decisions in a single system in the product development process.

Being able to visualize coverage of trace relationships is imperative. But what happens when you find a gap, or a test is failing? The ability to confer and collaborate with the people connected to the requirement right in the system allows you to capture decisions and actions and keep that information associated with the requirement. Down the road, if you need to revisit decisions, all data is stored and easy to find.

With this information managers can, for example, verify that their requirements are connected to downstream test cases and see what percentage of those tests have passed. In a system of action, every test case has a comment and activity stream accessible to all users. Testers and contributors can capture decisions, answer questions, and resolve issues transparently and responsively.

4. Conduct formal reviews in compliance with internal controls or industry regulations with built-in reporting.

In the case of proving compliance with a set of rules and regulations, you need to show your requirements, their traceable connections to test plans, and verification that all test have passed. Using a requirements management solution that has built-in formal reviews and reporting for auditors makes this process less cumbersome and more reliable.

Teams facing increasing complexity and pressure to comply with industry regulations must be able to search, track, and connect interdependent requirements. Achieving a faster time to market demands that teams collaborate quickly and effectively while they work on traceable requirements.

To learn more about traceability best practices, download our whitepaper, “Better Product Development: 5 Tips for Traceability”

When our customers move from managing requirements in isolated documents to using a collaborative requirements management solution, they’re better-equipped to conduct impact analysis and ensure full test coverage and traceability throughout the development process.

Managing complex requirements necessitates that information be visible and accessible to all team members at all times. You also have to make sure that all this information is connected in a way that is relevant and comprehensible to your teams. This helps ensure that you’re building what you set out to build, that it fulfills your customers’ expectations, and that it’s safe and compliant.

In order to get a full picture of what’s been built and if it’s on track, it’s crucial to build connections between data, as well as to map the conversations and decisions associated with each requirement.

In this post, we’ll explore how some of our customers have realized these results using Jama Connect™.

Traceability is Essential to Requirements Management

With everything you’re managing day-to-day, the last thing you need is a tool that takes just as much time and effort to learn and use as writing and managing the requirements themselves. A requirements management solution should make your life easier, and it should be easy to roll out to your team. Moreover, the solution should help you step back and look at your entire product or system as it’s being built, see all of the connections, and easily identify where work is needed.

Our Jama Professional Services consultants often hear from customers facing the inherent challenges of complex systems that establishing and managing traceability in Jama Connect is much easier than in any other solution they’ve tried.

Here are five ways to create relationships, account for full test coverage, and manage traceability throughout the development process in Jama Connect

1. Build a framework for properly linking artifacts with relationship rules

Creating meaningful connections between artifacts is vital to having that all-important big picture view. With relationship rules, you specify the proper relationships and how to implement them, while also freeing up your team’s time to focus on building and managing requirements.

2. Find out who is connected to an item and easily communicate with connected users in the Collaboration Stream

Let’s say you notice that something is wrong with the way a requirement is written, and it needs to be adjusted. Jama makes it easy to identify not only everyone who is involved with that requirement, but also everyone involved with impacted requirements. Using the Collaboration Stream, you can quickly post the issue for these connected users, who then receive a notification and can respond quickly —without anyone needing to book a conference room.

3. Determine gaps in your test coverage quickly and easily with Trace View

A critical piece of assuring quality is being able to see where gaps lie in your test coverage. Jama Connect’s Trace View identifies those gaps by leveraging the relationships your team has created to give you a holistic view of where work is still needed.

4. Identify high-level impact across your project using suspect links

If a system-level requirement changes, it could dramatically impact the quality of your product. By using the suspect links feature in Jama Connect, you can see at a glance what other items are impacted by changes and quickly assess whether additional changes need to be made downstream.

5. Understand how product features are connected or share IP using Reuse and Sync

Complex systems make for complicated connections between individual systems and products. Jama Connect allows you to share crucial pieces of information across product lines, compare these connections at a glance, and align them with the click of a button using the Reuse and Sync feature.

Managing traceability in complex product and systems development is challenging, but it’s essential for ensuring product quality, on-time and on-budget delivery, and alignment between customer expectations and the final deliverable. That’s why you need the right product development platform to help you achieve traceability and reap the benefits.

For more strategies for establishing traceability in product development, download the whitepaper “Better Product Development: 5 Tips for Traceability.”


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

Despite this, many teams are still using Word and Excel to manage requirements for these very complex products. This means they’re missing real-time collaboration and insights, end-to-end traceability, and integration with product testing, to say the least.

Learn why designing a reliable test strategy requires broad, strategic thinking by downloading our paper, “Verify, Validate, Trace & Test”

A recent report from Engineering.com found that while 90% of design and engineering teams agreed that products had become more complex in the last five years, a mere 15% relied on a dedicated requirements management solution. The rest still rely on a purely documents-based approach, even though using these tools to exclusively design, manage, and execute requirements presents an array of problems, including version-control issues, poor communication, inefficient collaboration, and lack of coordination.

The study found that the implications of poor requirements management were not to be taken lightly. Without a dedicated solution, teams were stuck with ineffective requirements management and were more likely to face product outcome failures (83% of respondents) and reprimands by regulatory agencies (62% of respondents).

On the other hand, the report found that not only did organizations using a dedicated requirements management platform in regulated industries receive fewer warnings, recalls, fines, or reprimands than those that didn’t, nearly half reported experiencing none of these issues at all.

Download our whitepaper to learn about the five biggest challenges of requirements management and how to conquer them.

Word documents that are hundreds of pages long, Excel spreadsheets packed with thousands of lines — sharing these ever-evolving files among multiple stakeholders and disparate teams throughout the development and testing process is cumbersome, frustrating, and time-consuming — not to mention risky. And with the market demanding flawless products delivered at record speeds, innovators can no longer afford that kind of inefficiency.

Using a dedicated requirements management solution, however, allows teams to stop wasting time and start innovating. For example, our customer, MediSync, reports that investing in Jama Connect has saved 80% of the time that would have otherwise been spent on meetings, sorting through versioned Word documents and emails, and consolidating feedback in review cycles.

To learn more about the growing number of organizations adopting product development solutions to manage the complexity of connect systems, download our eBook, Your Guide to Selecting the Right Product Development Platform.

Word and Excel undoubtedly serve a purpose. For early-phase documentation and for coordinating small, simple projects, they remain effective tools. But as product development grows more complex, teams need solutions that provide purposeful collaboration; connect globally-distributed team members; and accurately capture and facilitate feedback, decision making, and context for requirements under review.

To learn more about the limitations of a document-based approach and how to get the most out of your requirements management tool, download our eBook.

To learn more about requirements management, we’ve compiled a handy list of additional resources for you!


Few complex processes require more scrupulous attention to detail than taking a product from concept to design, through development and into manufacturing. And when it comes to medical device design and manufacturing, nothing is more critical than quality and compliance.
For more than 30 years, Fortune 500 companies have turned to Plexus engineers to design, develop and test healthcare and life sciences products. Plexus is ISO 13485 and Quality System Regulation compliant with engineering teams and manufacturing facilities around the world.
In order to ensure regulatory approval, Plexus needs to be able to guarantee traceability and documentation. After considering a variety of solutions for a collaborative, compliance – and audit-friendly requirements management tool, the team selected Jama.Plexus Collab BOARDROOM“Our main performance measurement is the repeat business we receive from our customers. They don’t come back if we’re not meeting the schedule and project budget. And these are things that Jama helps us do,” says Dave Strandberg, Director of Engineering Solutions.
Since introducing Jama, Plexus’ distributed teams are able to more efficiently collaborate on the requirements of their Class II and III medical devices. With Jama, Plexus has dramatically reduced the time it takes to assemble test data and shortened time to market.Group of Multiethnic Busy People Working in an Office
Learn more about how Jama is helping Plexus deliver to their customers again and again with the confidence of proven compliance. Read the case study.

As a System Engineer managing requirements do you ever feel like you’re playing a game of Topple? First, you start with a board that is relatively balanced, but depending on where you put the pieces it can quickly get off kilter. As the game evolves you are adding more and more pieces to the board. Now let’s make the game harder. Some of those pieces weigh more than others, so putting one green piece on the board means adding two red pieces to balance the load. Just for fun, lets now tie a few of those pieces together with some string, meaning you can’t add one or move one piece with out moving another. And are you really playing this game all by yourself?

Managing requirements can feel like a game of Topple.

Managing requirements can feel like a game of Topple.

Finding balance between competing requirements can seem just this precarious. If you’re building a medical device, you are likely weighing human safety over product aesthetics. When you add cost to one area of the product you have to adjust another area to keep cost in balance. And likely you’re working with a team of engineers who are building this product and must stay in close communication with them in order to deliver a complete, quality system. And as your product evolves you’re receiving requirements from many sources: business, product, hardware, and software.

How do you manage all of these competing priorities, conduct effective impact analysis and keep all stakeholders and developers in alignment? You are likely using some sort of complex matrix to keep track of the individual requirements and their relationships. It could be in Excel or even in a legacy RM tool. And this may work if all requirements were created equal, or if you’re the only person who needs to know about the impacts to the complete system.

But likely, that spreadsheet is not working.

Here’s what that spreadsheet on your desktop cannot do:

  • manage the complex web of traceability to truly understand the relationships between requirements and the people who are responsible for them
  • quickly find who and what are impacted by changes to the system
  • ensure that each requirement is validated and verified, proving that when the product is complete, you are delivering what was asked for and that the system has been thoroughly tested

In my work as a Jama consultant, I’ve seen our customers solve these very problems using Jama. Like Sirius XM, who picked Jama for traceability and alignment from requirements to testing. They wanted visibility into change so that they knew what was impacted. And they needed to eliminate the chaos from spreadsheets and emails.

Our partner, Deloitte, first implemented traceability with Jama to get visible coverage from requirements through test. Then, they connected their many stakeholders to the requirements those people owned, and, as questions came up throughout development, the right people could be pulled into conversation, within the Jama application, to get to a decision quickly. These changes were captured along with the discussion right in Jama so there was a history of decisions that linked back to the original requirements requests.

One of the things I often hear in my work is a belief that implementing a new system will only increase the complexity of an already difficult-to-manage process. I understand the concern, and I’ve written before about how to ensure adoption of a new enterprise application. One thing that makes it easy for teams to adopt Jama is its ease-of-use, especially when you compare it to the chaos of documents and email and file sharing applications. In our next post, Matt Mickle, another Jama consultant will discuss the characteristics in the Jama application that make it easy to transition from document-based traceability to visible coverage in a collaborative system.


The next time you feel like your professional life has gotten too complicated, get some face time with a seasoned Quality Assurance pro. The job? Easy stuff such as exposing the production flaws in embedded systems, integrated systems and connected devices.

What seems like a negative focus requires positive determination to straddle the line between the ideal and the real. Terminology that would terrify mere mortals such as “safety-critical,” “guaranteed compliance” and “life-and-economy critical” govern every QA action. Once the benchmark is set, QA is the muscle and willpower that keeps it in place.

And when your job is ensuring that only high-quality products make it to market, unwavering commitment to QA principles is required because your work is so demanding:

Tall tasks:

  • Trying to guarantee consistent product quality by developing, validating and enforcing reliable automated testing practices.

Pressure points:

  • Lacking visibility into changing requirements.
  • Lacking appropriate, comprehensive test coverage.
  • Struggling to capture and track all related defects.
  • Being the last to know when obstacles arise.

Burning desires:

  • To establish a clear workflow of requirements, be able to understand impacts when requirements change, and to ultimately ensure proper and meaningful test coverage.

With Jama, Quality Assurance Leads can turn wayward “Lost in Space” episodes into navigable “Star Trek” epics.

How so? You’re able to…

  • Speed up the test planning process.
  • Enable and ensure dependable test coverage for all requirements and defects.
  • Create and execute test cases using one platform.
  • Capture and track all related defects using one platform.
  • Easily integrate Jama with defect tracking and test automation tools you’re already using.
  • Communicate easily with the entire project team to get clarification on questions asked and decisions made, regardless of location.

Read Quality Products Deserve a Fighting Chance to see how Jama helps Quality Assurance teams make sure that only high-quality products make it to market.

Check out other ways Jama helps business and engineering teams get and stay aligned:

How Jama Helps VPs of Sales

How Jama Helps VPs of Product

How Jama Helps Systems Engineers

How Jama Helps Project Managers

How Jama Helps Business Analysts

How Jama Helps Product Managers

Stop chasing down documents in DOORS and focus on the items within them that matter.

For many years, IBM’s Rational DOORS (v.9) has been a widely adopted Requirements Management (RM) tool for teams working with high-compliance systems engineering programs. Because it’s often sold into the enterprise as part of a larger IBM suite, its widespread use is sometimes a matter of default rather than choice.

If you’re like most of today’s systems-driven engineering organizations, you’re primarily in the business of producing complex, finished products and components, often involving a mix of hardware, software and firmware. You’re probably also in a hybrid-Agile development environment and figuring out how to scale that effectively.

In business, times change because needs change. Changes driven by the rise in software-driven products, the imperatives of on-time delivery, and extended supply-chain systems threaten to disrupt traditional, legacy manufacturing and engineering processes. Your teams are pressured to accelerate product delivery and manage growing complexity in distributed organization and supply chains, within products, and across a network of interrelated and interdependent products.

Jama is built to serve and evolve with the ways systems engineering teams build products. How is it different? Jama deconstructs documents into actionable items. You can easily see, grab and reuse items, and be confident that they’re current and include all related comments and status. Forget about wordy “reading assignments.” You can share specific work components with your team for review and approval, without the risk of compromising security or access permissions that document shuffling causes. And when it’s time to pull it all together again to submit or archive a controlled document version, Jama can do that, too.

Skeptical? Make us prove it to you. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and give us a shot. No installation required.