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6 April 2011

IIBA says Requirements Traceability is optional?

The BABOK says this about Requirements Traceability;
"Determine whether and how to trace requirements based on the complexity of the domain, the number of views of requirements that will be produced, potential impacts from risk, and an understanding of the costs and benefits involved. Tracing requirements adds considerable overhead to business analysis work and must be done correctly and consistently to add value."  (Section, BABOK version 2.0)
I'm the most low doc guy you can get and still get a quality outcome and this is a clanger for me.  Requirements traceability MUST ALWAYS be done in one format or another on any project that warrants the name "project."

Traceability is an umbrella term for a number of auditing activities on requirements as they pass from concept to fulfilled, and one day potentially retired.  Here is what decent traceability auditing can do for you;

  • Maintain a focus on the mission of the project; if a requirement is not aligned to project goals, and is being shoehorned in by a stakeholder with a local agenda up-line traceability will give you a clear sign that there is an issue and a tool to defend your scope from the potentially contentions issue.
  • Monitor solution progress against goals; Traceability gives you the ability to monitor the progressive completion of requirements independent on the project management plan.  Traceability only measures things in black and white states of done, and not done.  You can choose in your local context what done means (So you could have testing layers as increments if you want.)  This gives you a real view of project progress and potential issues that another measurement model - say estimated effort expended/to go does not provide.

Now those two issues are enough along to afford them a seat at the Things you Must Do table.  But they also allow other benefits such as the ability to monitor cross team or feature dependencies, to spot when requirements are not sufficiently tested, and in my "Enterprise context" to help manage scope fallout - where the solution is going to fall short and so business process workarounds are going to be required.

Requirements Traceability is a MANDATORY activity in all serious projects.

Any questions?