Very few projects and project management teams have the luxury of gathering requirements that stay just as they are, and do not evolve or change throughout the life of the development.
This process of requirements management and development has evolved in recent years, as cost and technology barriers to requirements management software have broken down. Conventional approaches, including that of manual (human) management and good old ‘pen and paper’ are now viewed as restrictive and limiting – as businesses demand more innovation, outsourcing, product roll out, cloud computing and increasingly intelligent technologies than ever before.
Since many projects that require complex requirements engineering and management fail as a result of uncontrolled scope creep and poor (or lack of) understanding of stakeholder requirements, development organisations now use a different method of requirement management. Requirement Management tools are now advanced to such a point that the process is automated.
No longer a ‘new’ addition to the world of requirements management, dedicated software has transformed traditional methods of eliciting, analysing, developing, documenting and managing requirements. This article offers a deeper insight into the essential quality benefits brought about by Requirement Management automation:
Change & Version Management
Project requirements are built up from a baseline set of requirements – growing into a huge collection over time. In the context of software or systems development, automation of change and version history logging will explain previous decisions, manage releases, and coordinate teams.
Communication is arguably the most critical of functions within a project or requirement management activity – especially when you consider that all of the other points spin from, and assume, solid communication among stakeholders and project team members as soon on as possible.
Digital cloud-based requirement management tools permit electronic discussion and collaboration (beyond email) and make issues associated with geographical separation a thing of the past.
Beyond the facilitation of requirements specification, automated logging and notification of change history and discussion entries speed up processes and promise regular communication among team members.
Likewise, for stakeholders, an automated digital management system organises requirements by application and business process – which makes for swift and accurate oversight of project developments.
Requirement Attribute Tracking
Once requirements have been elicited and gathered from stakeholders, detailed attribution data needs to be logged and stored within the requirements list. Automated, cloud-based requirement management tools allow for each project team member to access, view and update requirement values.
Beyond standard tracking as was the case with manual, non-automated processes, requirement management tools can generate other attributes automatically such as version number, data types, creation date, author, manager, origin and so on.
The purpose of requirements gathering and management is to deliver a project on spec, on budget, on schedule, and with a happy client at the end of it.
By defining and creating links among other requirements and system elements, impact analysis and testing can be automated when changes are proposed to a specific requirement – since it is easy to track and trace exactly which other requirements and elements may be affected.
This definition of links also creates a logical and easily-managed route between functional requirements, designs, tests, tasks and use cases – and when overseen and delivered by dedicated software, can be traced through the full lifecycle of events.
Requirement management software can make your management practices significantly more sophisticated. There are many, many choices out there so be sure to evaluate against your own custom criteria – metrics such as accessibility, scalability, price and compatibility with the various project management methodologies will all have a critical part to play in the selection.
Rest assured though, once you have tried and worked with an automated requirements management tool… you will shudder at the thought of pen and paper.