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Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM): A Complete Guide

Published on Feb 12,2024 72 Views

Maria is a passionate tech enthusiast trying to break down complex concepts... Maria is a passionate tech enthusiast trying to break down complex concepts into easy-to-understand stories.

Project management tools are lifesavers for project managers as they help them plan, organize, and execute projects efficiently. Requirements Traceability Matrix is one such document that provides a centralized platform where team members can access project requirements and their test cases. This Matrix ensures that each requirement is properly validated and implemented. This blog guides you through everything you need to know about the Requirements Traceability Matrix! Let’s get started.

This blog guides you through these subsections:

Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM)

A Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a document that tracks the relationship between different stages of a Software development process. The data is stored as rows and columns. RTM is commonly used in software development processes for project management and quality assurance to ensure that requirements are systematically traced throughout the project lifecycle. It helps verify the status of each requirement throughout the software development phases, ensuring that the project stays aligned with its initial objectives.

Importance of RTM

In software development, once the requirements are specified by the clients, a Software Requirement Specification(SRS) document is prepared. A Requirement Traceability Matrix breaks down the SRS document into a table format and briefly describes the requirements, test cases, and their progress. In simpler words, it is a checklist to make sure the client’s requirements are met according to different test cases. Requirement Traceability Matrices will help manage the following: 

  • Track Project Progress: RTM will help the software testing team track the project’s progress and help meet the project goals.
  • Running test cases: The Requirement Traceability Matrix is specifically important for the testing team as it would give them an idea about the test cases to fulfill for managing the project efficiently. This will also ensure that the team doesn’t miss out on any test cases.
  • Decision-making and tracking changes: The Requirement Traceability Matrix can be helpful in planning timelines and making decisions accordingly. The development team and the testing team can analyze changes according to the software development life cycle and understand the impact of changes made.
  • Efficient Project Management: The ultimate goal of the Requirement Traceability Matrix is efficient project management. By mapping the requirements to various test cases, the team can get a better view of the project’s progress.

Types of Traceability Matrix

There are three main types of traceability matrices based on their direction.

1. Forward Traceability Matrix

In the forward-traceability matrix, requirements are linked to the test cases in the forward direction, i.e., each requirement is mapped to the corresponding test case. Here, we can verify that all requirements are covered in test cases. It gives a view of how requirements progress through the project lifecycle. It usually starts with requirements and progresses through subsequent stages of development. 

2. Backward Traceability Matrix

The backward-traceability matrix, also known as the reverse traceability matrix, is opposite to the forward-traceability matrix. Here, each test case is mapped to the corresponding requirement. It typically starts from the testing phase and goes back to the original requirements. 

3. Bi-directional traceability

A Bi-directional Traceability Matrix combines both forward and backward traceability into a single matrix. It establishes links not only from requirements to test cases (forward tracing) but also from testing and implementation back to the requirements (backward tracing). This matrix is used to make sure that all the business needs are met in the test cases.

Now that you have understood the different types of traceability Matrices, it is time to understand the key components of the Requirement Traceability Matrix.

Components of a sample Requirement Traceability Matrix

  • Requirement ID: A unique ID assigned to every project requirement.
  • Test case ID: Unique ID for each test case.
  • Test Case: A detailed description of the requirement.
  • Expected Test Result: A description of the expected test result for each test case.
  • Design Status: Indicates whether the design requirements have been validated based on the design documents.
  • Implementation Status: Indicates whether the requirements have been validated in the code or system.
  • Validation Status: Indicates whether each test requirement, design, and implementation has been validated with respect to the original requirements.

Next, let’s create a sample Requirement Traceability Matrix for a website login module.

Example RTM for a user login module

In a Requirement Traceability Matrix, each row represents a requirement, and the columns show the associated design, implementation, test cases, and validation status. The matrix allows for easy tracking of the progress of each requirement through the development and testing phases.

The above requirement traceability matrix is a sample for a website user login module. The email id, username, and password are required inputs from the user. The RPM validates different functional requirements of the login module. This RTM is created using an Excel sheet. Before creating the Requirements Traceability Matrix, define your objectives and have a thorough understanding of their responsibilities.

Now that you have created a Requirements Traceability Matrix in Excel let’s explore some tools that are in the market to develop a Requirements Traceability Matrix for easy project management.

Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) Tools

Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) tools are software solutions designed to help manage and track the relationships between various project functionalities, such as requirements, design documents, test cases, implementation, and other deliverables. These tools facilitate the traceability of requirements throughout the entire software development life cycle. Excel is a widely used tool for creating RTMs.

Some tools that will help you plan your Requirement Traceability Matrix include:

  • IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS: DOORS is a popular tool for managing requirements. It provides features for analyzing and managing requirements throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Visure Requirements: Visure Requirements is a software tool designed for requirements management and engineering in a variety of industries and aims to streamline the requirements process, helping teams efficiently manage and trace requirements throughout the entire development lifecycle.
  • Polarion Requirements: Polarion Requirements is a software tool developed by Siemens Digital Industries Software. This software is specifically designed for requirements management. Polarion Requirements allows teams to capture, document, and manage requirements in a structured and organized manner.
  • Helix RM: Helix RM is a requirements management tool that makes it easy for teams to gather, share and reuse requirements. This tool helps reduce validation time and ensure consistency across projects. Helix RM creates customized requirements traceability matrix according to your choice.

The Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) holds significant importance in software testing as it ensures the thorough validation and fulfillment of all requirements throughout the project lifecycle. This blog guides you through the basics of the requirement traceability matrix, shedding light on how a simple RTM can improve the overall quality of your project and ultimately improve client satisfaction.

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Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM): A Complete Guide

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