The Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a traceability system that allows the project manager to control scope, track and document a project. This traceability tool is extremely useful when balancing stakeholder requirements and enables a project manager to track and control deliverables across the entire lifetime of a project, ensuring they are verified and validated.
Read on to discover exactly what the requirements traceability matrix is and the benefits it provides to controlling scope.
Traceability Tools & Traceability Systems: What is the Requirements Traceability Matrix?
Simply put, every requirement is added to the matrix, with each installment to the project being noted as it progresses. This includes how deliverables are completed and which requirements they are fulfilling.
What is included in a Requirements Traceability Matrix?
The Requirements Traceability Matrix most often comes in the form of a table, utilizing IDs to track requirements, the sources for the requirements, who is responsible for it, the current status and other important information. This traceability tool is incredibly important to keep control of a project as it grows and controlling scope becomes an issue. Most corporate companies utilize existing templates for their RTMs and track a project’s progress from the very beginning up until the project is closed.
As can be seen in the example below, the RTM allows a project manager complete control and visibility of the project, from the highest level items such as costs to the specific information such as product design and development. The Requirements Traceability Matrix is above all else a traceability tool to ensure a project progresses at every level.
The top lines exhibit the high level information such as title, cost and description, while the further down into the traceability system you go the more specific the project’s deliverables are shown.
We’ll now go through this sample RTM line by line and explain each section
- Title and Description: The project title and project description is a self explanatory but needed area for the system. When dealing with multiple projects a project manager should leave no area for error.
- Cost Center: Within corporate companies, projects are managed at many levels, and the project costs are most often controlled by their cost centers which manage costs and expenses such as materials, resources and other expenses that are accrued throughout the project. Additionally, any budget a sponsor has provided is also connected to the cost center. An accounting & finance team are able to view and report on the cost center and can easily view the progress and status of the project’s budget. This is a key reason to use traceability tools and traceability systems such as the Requirements Traceability Matrix.
- ID / Associate ID: Numerical codes to identify specific requirements within the Requirements Traceability Matrix.
- Requirements: This area is used to provide detailed information about the specific requirement, for example in software development the amount of bandwidth and users that should be able to access it at one time, or very specific requirements that design and development teams need to know are perfect examples of what to include in the description.
- Business needs, opportunities, goals, and objectives: This column is used to connect the requirement with the business as a whole, tying in the project with the business from a top-level view.
- Project objectives: Here we can explain the end goal for the project deliverable, how it connects with the project and why it is needed.
- WBS deliverables: This column is used to display which deliverables fulfill the requirement.
- Product design/product development: This column ties in with the technical portion of the project. Adding the solution that must be offered to solve issues that relate to point 4. For example, in our bandwidth and user example in point 4, a solution could be written here such as the amount of servers or processors required to manage this.
- Test cases: This final column explains how this requirement will be put to the test and validated after its deliverables have been developed. For example, looking back at point 4 a test loading tool can be performed on the software to ensure it can handle the bandwidth that the deliverable requires.
As you can see, the Requirements Traceability Matrix is incredibly important, both as a traceability tool and a traceability system. It allows a project manager to easily view the progress of a project at any point in the project’s life cycle which is especially useful when controlling scope as it allows the tracking of all requirements, their progress and complete documentation of each portion of the project, helping to control scope, remain within budget and within the set timeline.
The Requirements Traceability Matrix can cut off any issues before they arise by providing a top down view of each requirement for the project to succeed, what additional tools and costs will be associated with it and ensuring the project does not have any holes in responsibility or deliverables that could create issues that would hurt the progress, or the project as a whole could fail.
Understanding the information in this article is an essential part of project management and a vital part of the PMP exam. Improve your project management skills or prepare for the PMP Certification exam by taking a quality online PMP exam prep course.