Breakthrough Insights

Why Word and Excel Aren’t Enough For Managing Complex Requirements


Product development and delivery is more complex today. Modern products are multifaceted and multidisciplinary, with hardware, software and various engineering approaches coming together in the name of superior customer experience. In our safety-and security-conscious age, they are also subject to intense 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.

Recent Forrester Consulting research finds that only 28 percent of companies currently employ a dedicated RM tool. 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.

Word documents hundreds of pages long, Excel spreadsheets packed with thousands of lines—sharing these ever-evolving files among multiple stakeholders and diverse teams throughout the development and testing process is cumbersome, frustrating and time-consuming. And with the market demanding flawless products delivered at record speeds, that kind of inefficiency is something innovators can no longer afford.

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, the ability to connect globally-distributed team members with social-media-style functions like “@mentions,” and that facilitate feedback capture, decisions and context for requirements under review.

If statistics mean anything, we can guess that you may part of the two-thirds of product leaders who have yet to try out a modern requirements management solution. We’ve assembled more below to help you see why modern RM tools beat Word and Excel, every time.