It is undisputed that professional software and system development is no longer conceivable without tools. In addition to tools for development and quality assurance, tools for managing and tracking requirements are now in use at many companies, as planning and controlling projects is almost impossible without a clear overview of the desired product properties.
In addition to specialized tools for requirements management, the so-called Requirements Management (RM) tools, other types of tools that were actually developed for other purposes have also found application in requirements management. The frequently asked question, what makes ReqSuite® RM so special and why one should decide for it, is to be answered in this article.
Before we provide the actual justification, however, we would first like to use a stage model to show the differences between the tools commonly used in requirements management (see Figure 1). The model should not be seen as a valuation, but should only show that tools on a higher level contain the essential features of the lower levels as well as other features relevant for requirements management. In order to counter the accusation of comparative advertising, the naming of concrete tools is deliberately omitted at this point.
Office tools are found at the lowest level of the model. Due to their open character (you can document everything with them), their universal availability and their everyday use, they do not represent any access barriers for users and are therefore the most convenient choice for people who are entrusted with the documentation of requirements. In fact, Office tools are still the most commonly used tools in requirements management, even though they do not provide specific functionality for this discipline. Nevertheless, they allow requirements to be digitally documented and logically organized into chapters or matrices, even though they quickly reach their limits when it comes to larger requirement volumes and/or distributed collaboration.
At the level above you will find wikis. In recent years, the use of these tools has increased in many companies, not least in order to establish a common and central knowledge and information store. Due to their simplicity, openness to a wide variety of content, and the ability to centrally manage, collaboratively edit, and link content from different people, they have become a popular means of requirements documentation. However, they reach their limits when it comes to tracking and maintaining individual requirements, for example.
Next-level issue tracking systems are widely used tools for organizing work tasks in development projects or service organizations. Although they were not originally designed to support requirements management, many companies have begun to use these tools. Background is that with these Tools in contrast to the before mentioned tool types requirements can be atomically documented and pursued, whereby also development processes can be steered. However, these tools reach their limits when it comes to maintaining an overview of a large number of requirements or ensuring an orderly exchange with external partners or fulfilling documentation obligations.
At the next higher level, you will find classic RM tools. These tools explicitly address the specific tasks of requirements management and therefore, in contrast to the previously mentioned tool types, offer a multitude of corresponding functions. These include, for example, the creation of views on subsets of requirements, reporting, automatic import and export of requirements, synchronization with other tools along the development chain, baseline management, variant creation or reuse. Unfortunately, this power is often at the expense of user-friendliness, which means that these tools are usually only used by experts. In addition, these tools are clearly focused on the “requirements management” application area and are generally not applicable for other purposes.
Finally, at the highest level, there are advanced RM tools, including ReqSuite® RM, the first and only commercial tool on the market. In addition to the standard RM tool functions mentioned above, tools in this category offer intelligent assistance functions that simplify and in some cases even automate challenging tasks in requirements management as well as requirements determination and validation. Features such as the ability to find out which work steps still have to be completed due to the requirements or how requirements can be documented completely, consistently, and comprehensibly make it easier both to master the complexity of a project and to use the tool itself. This enables users without in-depth requirements management expertise to use the tool – for example, from marketing or specialist departments.
However, the differences between the various tool types mentioned above are only relevant if they are also reflected in operational and economic added value for the companies using them. The question therefore arises as to what additional benefits tools can provide at a higher level than those at a lower level.
As can be seen from Figure 2, each tool type at a higher level tends to increase the benefits for the companies using it in terms of efficiency, scalability and susceptibility to errors. This is made possible by the respective features that eliminate typical project challenges and thus allow simpler and faster work. For example, a Wiki simplifies the collaboration on requirements compared to an Office tool, or an RM tool simplifies the reuse of requirements compared to an Issue Tracking System.
With regard to ReqSuite® RM, however, the question remains as to whether its additional (assistance) features offer a justified added value compared to classic RM tools or are merely nice-to-have. Ultimately, the quality of requirements and how they are handled are decisive for project success, not the intelligence of the tool with which they are documented or managed.
This fact, however, is exactly what motivates advanced RM tools like ReqSuite® RM. In all other tool types mentioned – no matter how simple or powerful they are – the quality of requirements today still depends exclusively on the expertise, diligence and cognitive performance of individual users, which automatically reaches its limits at a certain project size. All other tool types, whose raison d’être in application management should by no means be questioned, help with many relevant project challenges, but lack when it comes to the actual and efficient creation, validation, and maintenance of a reliable requirements basis. However, as relevant statistics have shown for many years, this is the really decisive factor for increasing development efficiency and minimizing project risks.
Thanks to its unique features, ReqSuite® RM is therefore the only tool in the requirements management environment that allows you to achieve better requirements more quickly and thus reduce rework and other “overhead” in the course of the project by more than 40% from the start.
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