Traceability 101 for Business Managers & Stakeholders

About this Paper

For managers and stakeholders that care about being “covered” during audits, traceability is vital. If you’re responsible for deciding what goes into products and how to market them, you need traceability too.

When you think about connecting data, what do you envision?

If sifting through spreadsheets, email archives and documents for critical bits of information comes to mind, you’re a member of large, overworked club. Where connected data is stored is one part of the problem; that data is the only focus is another.

Today, companies subject to regulations and audits use traceability to “show work” and document the products, versions or variants they’re building. But the value of traceability extends beyond engineering activities and compliance concerns to business interests too.

Traceability must also trace the connections between data and people, and their decisions and actions. Identifying and understanding what people do with that data is where traditional traceability ends and modern traceability begins.

The problem: When a single new product has thousands of requirements and interdependencies, the process of defining, engineering and managing them grows exponentially more complicated, making traceability a mess of a job.

Traceability by documents works, but only if all requirements are equal, and if your team, project and scope are so small that you’re the only person who needs to know how the product you’re building is impacted.

Here’s what a spreadsheet can’t do:

  • Manage the complex web of traceability to understand the relationships between requirements and the people who are responsible for them.
  • Quickly find who and what are impacted by changes.
  • Ensure that each requirement is validated and verified, that the completed product delivers what was asked for and that the system has been thoroughly tested.

You may think, “That’s what a trace matrix is for.” But it doesn’t present the big-picture view that business needs.

Here’s what a trace matrix can’t do:

  • A trace matrix shows only one piece of info: relationships between existing items. It can’t show what’s missing or wrong, and it can’t identify when things that aren’t related should be.
  • It’s isolated information without context. It can’t tell you where decisions need to be made and what and whom those decisions will impact.
  • It forces engineering teams into a “check after we’re done” routine. If you aren’t documenting decisions and traceability while you build, you’re making choices without critical context.

The solution: Jama organizes and groups data so that business teams don’t have to examine every single piece, or wait until the build is done to answer a question. It’s easier: You focus only on the parts of the machine that matter to you, not the entire machine.

The money saver: Before making a decision, you understand the impact that decision would have.

More ways business teams benefit from Jama’s traceability:

  • Actionable and accountable info—a huge audit time-saver. You have the context for decisions you need to make now; no waiting for major milestones.
  • Accuracy you can trust. Get a reliable, complete and current map of your product data—anything in the V-model from ideas to validation test results.
  • Critical questions, answered. By navigating the connections traceability creates, information such as progress, who’s working on what, how decomposed a requirement is, impact analysis and the original source of requirements is all easy to find.
  • Live and self-updating. When things change and require your action, you’re notified.

Instead of waiting until a test fails you can see potential problems; you have the context for decisions you need to make now, instead of at the end of development.