Requirement Traceability Matrix –Scope Management Tool

The Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a tool to ensure that the project’s scope, requirements, and deliverables remained “as is” when compared to the baseline. Thus, it “traces” the deliverables by establishing a thread for each requirement- from the project’s initiation till its completion. In actual, Requirement Traceability matrix is a table that captures the complete user and system requirements to develop the system.
It holds its relevance in both traditional (waterfall) as well as modern (agile) development methodologies .In traditional approach, it helps to trace from requirements till testing in order to verify that the requirements are fulfilled. In SCRUM methodology, it is used to capture the linkage of user stories between product backlog and sprint backlog.
RTM - Workflow:
The Matrix is produced at the beginning of the project as it forms the basis of the project's scope and deliverables that will be produced.
The RTM Matrix is a  bi-directional matrix as it tracks the requirements “forward” by examining the output of the deliverables and “backward” by looking at the business requirements that were specified for a particular characteristic of the product. The RTM is also used to identify changes to the scope as and when they occur.
Requirement traceability Matrix - Parameters:
Across industry there is no single format for the RTM , it exists in multiple formats, layouts and structures. Projects create and use RTM as per their organizational standards and needs, but in general a good RTM is found to contain one or more of the following elements. 
  • Requirement ID or Requirement Number – Given for each project requirement, listing in a numerical order 
  • Requirement Type - Grouping the requirements by function.
  • Requirement Description - Name and brief description of the requirement
  • Trace to Design Specification - Specify the identification number of the requirement as listed in the SRS.
  • Unit Test Cases Reference / Identification number
  • Integration Test Cases Reference / Identification number
  • System Test Cases Reference / Identification number
  • User Acceptance Test Cases Reference / Identification number
  • Trace to Test Script - Test scripts should be prepared for the actual testing process.
Conclusion :
Requirement tracing is a technique that ensures that project delivers what exactly the stakeholders expect. If applied accurately it greatly helps in improving the project quality and reliability of final product, minimizing costs and rework. 
Using the RTM, requirements are traced throughout the various lifecycle phases of the project – from designing to coding to testing till user acceptance.  Thus requirement traceability is ongoing, continuous and iterative process. Further it should be reviewed with the key stakeholders to ensure that they are aware and updated of any assumptions and constraints included the Requirement traceability matrix. 
A judicious use of RTM definitely helps a Project manager to avoid many scope management related issues at later stage of the project. Also it need to remembered that if the project is very large, with huge number of requirements, then tracing down to the smallest degree may not be in the best interest of the project.
References: -
  • Requirements Traceability and the Effect on the System Development Lifecycle (SDLC) by Glenn A. Stout.
  •  Requirement Traceability Matrix Through Documentation For Scrum Methodology, By Gunavathi Duraisamy And Rodziah Atan, Journal of Theoretical and Applied Information Technology
  •  Requirements Traceability Matrix  by Tom Carlos

Author : Manish Sharma

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Manish Sharma