What is Requirements Traceability Matrix?

What is Requirements Traceability Matrix?

As projects often have a lot of requirements, Project Managers need to have a proper and adequate system/process in place to trace all of the requirements that they have met and still need to achieve. The Requirements Traceability Matrix, in project management, provides a link between the requirements and work products developed to verify the requirements. It is a tool that connects the requirements from their initiation stage to their deliverable stage. The primary purpose of implementing this tool is to ensure that each of the requirements mentioned in the project management is given additional business value by linking them to the project and business objectives.

Definition of Requirements Traceability Matrix

The process which helps in ensuring that the project's scope, requirements, and deliverables remain constant, and unchanged when they are compared with the project baseline. Thus, the Requirements Traceability Matrix traces the deliverables by establishing a margin for each requirement from the project's initiation to the final implementation stage. In actual scenario, Requirement Traceability matrix is a table that captures the complete user and system requirements to develop the system and achieve the desired objectives.

There are several requirements to create the requirement traceability matrix:

  • Business needs : Keeping in mind the positive outcomes and the commercial needs that the organization will achieve through the project, the project manager will be required to assess the business needs in the RTM (Requirement Traceability matrix).

  • Project objectives : Accomplishing the objectives is the primary responsibility of the project manager and to ensure that the goals are met, the requirements are to be listed in the RTM and are to be tracked/traced.

  • Project scope : One of the main features of the project is its scope. Every project manager has to assure that requirements are listed under the RTM to track and meet the scope of the project.

  • Product design : Every project has its very own product design, and it varies based on the project that is taken up by the organization. RTM maintains a document that traces the development of the design that is aligned accordingly with the project’s objectives.

  • Product developmental plan : The product development plan is very crucial to trace the development of the project. It will help in comparing the growth of the product with the help of RTM and provide accurate results on how and what is to be done to improve the progress of the product.

  • Test strategy : A test strategy will allow the project manager to extensively use the RTM to judge whether the product being developed will yield to the fundamental objectives or not.

  • High-level requirements : High-level requirements are to be listed out based on their importance and significance so that they can be traced with the help of RTM tool.

Attributes like text descriptions of the requirement, rationale, source, priority, current status and dates that are associated with the requirements are recorded in the requirement traceability matrix to help determine the information about a particular requirement of a project. The requirements evolution, how it's achieved, keeping track of which deliverable fulfills the requirement will all be documented in the Requirements Traceability Matrix.

There is no specified format for Requirements Traceability Matrix. It can exist in multiple formats, layouts, and structures. Projects create and use Requirements Traceability Matrix as per their organizational standards and needs.

An effective Requirements Traceability Matrix table will contain most of the following elements listed under it:

    • Requirement ID : A unique number given for each project requirement.

    • Requirement Type : Categorizing the list of requirements according to their functions.

    • Requirement Description : Name and a brief description of the requirement.

    • Trace to Design Specification : Specifying the identification number of the requirement.

    • Unit Test Cases Reference : The number given to identify each test unit reference.

    • Integration Test Cases Reference : The number given to identify each Integration test reference.

    • System Test Cases Reference : The number given to identify each system test reference.

    • User Acceptance Test Cases Reference : The number given to identify each user acceptance test reference.

    • Trace to Test Script : Test scripts should be prepared for the actual testing process.

The Requirements Traceability Matrix is an essential part of Scope Management as it mainly focuses to track the requirements. If the requirements cannot be documented and appropriately monitored, the scope of the project will have the risk of being faulty and if the scope contains error or deficiencies, which would create the risk of failure of the project. Hence, the Requirements Traceability Matrix is used in every stage of the project to keep a note of how the project is progressing. It helps in ensuring that project delivers what precisely the stakeholders expect. If applied accurately it greatly helps in improving the project quality and reliability of the final product, minimizing costs and rework.


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