RTM: Your saviour in a software development project

Date 30 Nov 2017
Posted in Web Development

RTM or Requirements Traceability Matrix is a simple tool we use for software testing. It might sound complicated but building it from the start only helps organise your software development project. Requirements Traceability Matrix or just Traceability Matrix can be defined as the summary of the relationships that exist between requirements and the test cases. It is a table or grid that chalks out the many-to-many relationships between the multiple requirements and multiple test cases that arise in any software project. At GR Imagine, our team of software developers rely on this important document to keep them on track and guide them as they build better and more efficient products for our clients.

Why we need RTM?

An experienced project manager would know that any software project has too many aspects to it. It also always involves a team or teams that look into different parts of the project. Such a mammoth task usually begins with dividing the project into Business Requirements that can be further divided into software requirements, which can keep being dissected till it reaches a test case for that particular software requirement. Here, an important point to note is that a software requirement can implement more than one business requirement. As you can see even here (like in the RTM) it is a many-to-many relationship, which can also be plotted down in case you need to have a good overview of the entire project.

An RTM usually plots the software requirements in the x-axis or the first row of a table and the test cases in the first column of the table or the y-axis. The requirements and test cases should not be written in full but should have a unique identification number or code so that it can easily be listed on a table. You can have a separate document where the IDs are listed along with what exactly they stand for.

Now what we typically see is a matrix or a grid where we can easily plot which test cases correspond to their respective requirements. A software requirement has to have at least a single test case if not more. If it doesn’t, then the requirement should not ideally exist. On the other hand, you can easily have more than one test case testing out a requirement. Similarly, a test case should trace back to a requirement or it should not exist. A test case can also correspond to more than one requirement.

Start Tracing

Remember to build the table as and when you move forward in the project. Make it as early as possible because it will be more painstaking to do it in retrospect as you will have to restudy each of the requirements and the various test cases associated with it. If you have it organised in the first place, the complexity will never get to you. You can easily trace every requirement and test case to each other, making sure you never lose sight of where they fit into the project and why you need each of them. If you wish to make changes as and when the project moves forward, just ensure whether the change in requirement affects the corresponding test case and vice-versa. If it does, make the necessary change as long as you can keep the matrix accurate.

Too many cooks

Well, they don’t necessarily have to spoil the broth. In a project you need many cooks or coders. An RTM will give them an idea of exactly what they need to do and how their each action will affect the matrix. They will then make the necessary arrangements to keep the matrix stable. They will be able to track errors better and be more cohesive as a team. Some project management software have RTM as an in-built feature. So be sure to use it!

Have a software project in mind? Our team at GR Imagine can help you with that.

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