Best Practices

The Importance of Updating Your Requirements Traceability Process

Companies that haven’t optimized their requirements traceability process will eventually hit a breaking point.

With product complexity increasing, and consumer demand for more sophisticated technology growing, taking a stronger approach to requirements traceability without further burdening your team may seem like a challenge. In reality, the risk is not adapting.

Writing all your requirements in Word or Excel spreadsheets, and then trying to track the varied changes manually across the development cycle via a traceability matrix not only dramatically slows momentum and heightens risk of human error, but it can also take a major toll on your team’s morale. As necessary as the process may be, nobody wants to spend their days on requirements traceability.

Leaning on a legacy system, complete with an operational gatekeeper, for your requirements traceability also introduces questions around the speed, performance, and overall transparency of your development process.

We recently released an eBook exploring the value of improving your traceability process, and why you should start thinking about upgrading it sooner than later. Here are three pieces of advice for doing just that, taken directly from our eBook, which you can grab here.

Bidirectional requirements traceability will help you minimize risk and ensure quality

As mentioned earlier, updating a prehistoric traceability matrix not only drags down your process and team, but it also exposes your organization to additional risk. Neither Excel nor Word were expressly created for requirements management, and so the bulk of the responsibility for bending them to serve that purpose falls directly on the user. And as the complexity of a product augments, the chance for human operational error expands as well.

Conversely, if you’re using a solution which has been expressly built for requirements management, there’s a good chance it’ll have bidirectional traceability built into its functionality. That feature will allow you to automatically source requirements and their related items downstream to lower-level requirements, so you can easily monitor their status as the development process progresses. And when it comes time to prove compliance, you’ll easily be able to drill down to the why, how, and when decisions were made.

Since healthcare leader Grifols started using Jama Connect™, for example, the company estimates it’s saving roughly 80 hours per project. And the ability to comment and facilitate robust discussion within the platform is helping its teams drive clear agreement on project items while also automatically building an audit trail for compliance.

Improving your traceability can identify gaps in your test coverage almost instantly

It’s extremely difficult for teams to get a holistic view of your requirements and overall development process using Word, Excel, a legacy solution, or a homebrewed tool for requirements management. And without that insight, it’s tough to ensure quality. Whereas a purpose-built, modern requirements management solution will show you gaps in your test coverage within minutes.

“Right off the initial stage of just importing the data in Jama Connect and trying to create the relationships, we actually saw that we had traceability gaps, just based on what we had done before in the old system,” David Langlois, Director of R&D, Bionic Solutions, at Össur told us in a recent customer story. “Catching these gaps would’ve probably taken hours or days in our old system, while with Jama, it became obvious in a matter of minutes.”

Better traceability can relieve your team of unnecessary development pressures

It can seem like a big jump to discard a document-based traceability matrix and use a platform to power your traceability. Part of that is fear of the inevitable learning curve that can come from diving into a new, complicated solution.

That’s why your requirements management solution must be incredibly easy to use, so anyone on your team can quickly pick it up and start taking advantage of its abilities. And when they do, they’ll be able to quickly zero in on what work is being done, by who, and how it all lines up to the company’s overarching goals. As the single-source of truth for your development team, the platform will introduce a variety of other benefits, such as improving collaboration, addressing change management, speeding up review cycles, helping you build higher-quality products, and getting you to market faster.

“Jama Connect frees us up to focus on the design of the product, not the logistics of the work that needs to be done,” Scott Britt, Systems Engineering Manager, at RBC Medical Innovations told us for a customer story. “We are able to spend our time more effectively — helping our customers.”

Learn more by downloading our eBook, “The Jama Software Guide to Requirements Traceability.”