What Is Requirements Management?

To understand requirements management, it is first necessary to understand the definition of “requirement” in the context of software engineering and business management.

All businesses and organizations exist to deliver a product or service. A requirement is whatever capability is necessary to provide that service.

Therefore, requirements management is the set of activities or tasks that help ensure documentation, refinement, and implementation of each requirement. Each requirement necessitates specific planning aimed toward an overall goal of meeting the mission of the company or providing ultimate customer satisfaction.

Requirements Management software provides the metrics and tools used for measuring, reporting, and controlling changes to the requirements. Using the right software is the best way to manage requirements and systems engineering design. Without knowing your requirements, you can’t even begin to think about design, planning, and testing for your project. With a clear understanding of the project’s requirements, you’ll be able to ensure you are on track for customer and stakeholder satisfaction throughout your project’s lifecycle. From conception through product launch and all the way to retirement, requirements management allows you to have all the relevant details at your fingertips, ensuring a smoother, more effective project life cycle. 

The process of collecting, analyzing, and refining product requirements is an important tool for successfully planning their delivery. You’ll be able to better meet the needs of your customers, as well as your management team and stakeholders. Continuous requirements management allows for more effective communication between team members and stakeholders and easier transitions between components of the project as it takes shape. 

Ineffective requirements management is a leading cause of project failure. Successful software projects are highly dependent on well understood requirements in order to avoid unnecessary delays and difficulties. The earlier you address requirement issues, the easier it is to avoid design issues that are more expensive to resolve after the project is already underway. Investment in requirements management from the beginning of the project’s life can save you time, energy, and headaches in the long run as your project runs its course.

What is Involved in Requirements Management?

The first step in requirements management is identifying stakeholders and gathering requirements from each of them. From there, you’ll want to analyze and document the various requirements and develop a system for verifying and prioritizing them. Communicating and tracking these requirements is also essential to being able to manage and control them as they change. Finally, clear reporting and documentation is required for demonstrating how you have complied with the requirements over the course of your project’s life.

Having a requirements management plan in place allows you to repeat the process, if necessary -- either for the next project or when the scope of your current project changes, saving you time and money in the long run.

The Benefits of Requirements Management Software

Collecting requirements may sound straightforward, but without proper documentation, they can become quite complicated.

Requirements are not always obvious and may not be easy to understand or express clearly. They are varied and can come from many sources requiring differing levels of detail. If not controlled, the number of requirements can become overwhelming and unmanageable. In addition, they are constantly changing and may need to be managed by many groups of people, depending on your specific project.

Effective requirements management requires the ability to:

Analyze problems and propose high-level solutions. You will have a greater understanding of the problems your project is facing and how to solve them so that all parties are aware of the status quo and the expected return on their investment.

Understand stakeholder needs, especially if your project has requirements that come from many sources; customers, partners, and consultants might all have a stake in the outcome of the project. You need to know those sources, gain access to them, and effectively determine and communicate their needs. 

Define your system by turning stakeholder needs into a strategy for how your project or system will be built. By mapping out requirements, you’ll also be able to determine how you will document them and in what format. You’ll be able to identify requirement specificity and priority, as well as any technical and management risks associated with the requirements.

Manage the project by identifying productive, achievable requirements that mitigate risk and stabilize the structure of the project. Negotiating each requirement with your various stakeholders will allow you to oversee the output of the project throughout its lifecycle and have control of its various requirements.

Manage traceability by tracking top level requirements throughout the design, testing, and verification phases of the requirement. By tracing requirements throughout the project, you are better able to demonstrate your progress and ensure no requirements are missed or overlooked.

Adjust to changing requirements as the project progresses. A change to one requirement may impact many others. Attention to detail is the only way to mitigate problems as they arise. Your requirements need to be resilient even in the face of change and well documented so that they can be adaptable and traceable when problems arise.

Requirements management software is the ideal resource for combining these skills into a manageable, accessible tool for streamlined, effective project management. 

You’ll be able to model relationships between requirements and easily import and export data for appropriate documentation. You’ll have functionality for dashboards that will help you better trace all of your data. You’ll be able to run real-time analysis and run test cases. Overall, requirements management software connects all the dots for you so you don’t have to.

Why Effective Requirements Management is Important

Without the proper tools, you’re left with complex spreadsheets and messy word documents as your only recourse for tracking your business’ most valuable data. 

Traceability is key to being able to follow your requirements through to completion. When you’re dealing with spreadsheets and word documents, it’s easy to lose the thread of the requirements. When you can’t trace them back to their beginnings, it becomes exceedingly difficult to manage them.

Effective requirements management requires effective documentation as dictated by your specific business requirements. Engineering finds its strength from a well defined process. These processes often require consistent and formal documentation, even if the details change from project to project. The more carefully your data is tracked and documented, the easier the overall engineering process will be and the more satisfied stakeholders and customers will be.

From design on through verification and testing, systems engineering and requirements management can give you a high level picture of your system and the ability to test and trace your project data easily. Not all businesses are readily equipped to deal with these projections on their own and without the right tools, requirements management and tracking can become daunting.

Documentation of requirements can be tedious and time consuming, especially when you’re trying to do it on your own. It’s a huge undertaking, but the right tools can make requirements management easier to track, analyze, visualize, and communicate among all team members and stakeholders. The clearer the documentation, the clearer the path toward a completed, successful project from beginning to end.