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What is the purpose of the requirement traceability matrix?

Requirement traceability matrix in simple words it can be defined as a document that represents the relationship between requirements and other associated functions. It is used to represents that requirements have been fulfilled, and documented in a table form having requirement, tests, test results, and issues.

When requirements are well understood RTM is written well and understood well traceability follows the life of a requirement. It starts as soon as requirement starts or originates and it continues on through until the requirement is fulfilled so, it makes sure that your requirements are meeting your original goal. Requirements traceability also helps your testing team and makes them understand what needs to be tested. This improves the efficiency and productivity of the team and as a result we are able to show that your requirements are being properly implemented. This matrix can also be used for decision making throughout the development processes of the product it also lets us understand how the product design is and how it is going to impacted by the requirements. And, if in some cases if requirements change requirement traceability matrix helps in analyzing the impact of that change across development.

Requirements traceability matrix is also useful in overall managing of the project so as to develop a better product. It helps in knowing how far we have progressed in meeting a requirement. By linking your requirements to tests, it helps in understanding how practically meet those requirements and still give on time hence, RTM is very important part of documentation and weak traceability matrix can make it difficult to meet goals, run the right test, make decisions, and also in managing the project.

Every corporate sector that produces software or hardware could use requirement traceability. RTM can be created in MS excel or you can also use specialized tools to fasten the processes. Basically, there are three steps doesn’t matter which tool one is using these are the very basic steps that is firstly define your goal, and then establish your relationship and then fill in the traceability matrix. There are also several benefits of using traceability matrix like getting visibility across development, making better decisions (on requirement change), accelerate release cycles, rest easy knowing your requirements are fulfilled, prove compliance faster, pass audits without fear.

There are several components of requirement traceability matrix it may vary from organization to organization and needs, but the general requirements are requirement id, baseline document reference no, bug/error id, and test cases. Common elements include requirement id which is arranged in numerical order, requirement type that is categorizing the business requirement by function, requirement description just a brief description of the requirement, unit test case reference, integration test cases reference, system test case reference, user acceptance test cases reference etc.

There are different types of requirement traceability matrix of which the most common types are as follows- Forward traceability matrix, this type of RTM is used to make sure that the project progresses as per the plan. It makes sure that the project has all the appropriate requirements. Backward traceability matrix, this type of RTM is used to ensure that the project stays on the track. It also provides traceability to the original requirements. Bi-directional traceability matrix, this RTM is a combination of both that is the forward and backward requirement traceability matrix. So, it traces all the requirements and also used to determine the impact of changes in requirement of associated project.

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