Requirements traceability matrix (RTM) is a document that links requirements throughout the validation process. It is used to track the requirements and to check the current project requirements are met. RTM is a tool that helps ensure that the project’s scope, requirements, and deliverables remain “as is” when compared to the baseline.
In this article, we will explain what RTM is, why it is important, what elements it should include, what types of RTM exist, and how to create one. We will also provide some examples of RTM and some tips on how to use it effectively.
What is RTM?
RTM stands for requirements traceability matrix. It is a document that maps and traces user requirements with test cases. It captures all requirements proposed by the client and requirement traceability in a single document, delivered at the conclusion of the software development life cycle.
The main purpose of RTM is to validate that all requirements are checked via test cases such that no functionality is unchecked during software testing. RTM also helps to identify changes to the scope when they occur and to verify that all requirements are met.
RTM can be thought of as a process of documenting the connection and relationships between the initial requirements of the project and the final product or service produced. It shows the requirement coverage in terms of test cases, design status, execution status, defects, and user acceptance.
Why is RTM important?
RTM is important for several reasons:
- It ensures that all requirements are covered by test cases and that no functionality is missed during testing.
- It helps to track the changes in requirements and scope throughout the project lifecycle.
- It provides a clear picture of the project status and progress in terms of requirements, test cases, defects, and user acceptance.
- It improves communication and collaboration among stakeholders by providing a common reference point for requirements and testing.
- It enhances the quality of the product or service by ensuring that all requirements are met and validated.
What elements should RTM include?
Some RTMs are more in-depth than others. However, there are some basic elements that every RTM should include:
- Requirement ID: A unique identifier or description that explains one feature or function that the project is meant to complete.
- Requirement Type and Description: A classification and explanation of the requirement, such as functional, non-functional, business, technical, etc.
- Test Cases with Status: A list of test cases that correspond to each requirement, along with their design status (planned, designed, reviewed) and execution status (passed, failed, blocked).
Apart from these elements, an RTM can also include other parameters, such as:
- User Acceptance Test Status: A status indicator that shows whether the requirement has been accepted by the end-user or not.
- Related Defects: A list of defects or issues that are linked to each requirement or test case.
- Priority: A ranking of the importance or urgency of each requirement or test case.
- Risk: A measure of the potential impact or likelihood of failure of each requirement or test case.
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Types of RTM
There are different types of RTM depending on the direction and level of traceability. The most common types are:
- Bidirectional Traceability Matrix: This type of RTM traces the requirement both forward and backward. It tracks the requirement from its source (such as business need) to its output (such as product feature) and vice versa. It also tracks the relationship between requirements and test cases in both directions. This type of RTM provides complete traceability and ensures that all requirements are met and validated.
- Forward Traceability Matrix: This type of RTM traces the requirement only forward. It tracks the requirement from its source to its output. It also tracks the relationship between requirements and test cases in the forward direction. This type of RTM helps to ensure that the project scope is aligned with the business objectives and that all requirements are covered by test cases.
- Backward Traceability Matrix: This type of RTM traces the requirement only backward. It tracks the requirement from its output to its source. It also tracks the relationship between requirements and test cases in the backward direction. This type of RTM helps to ensure that the project deliverables are justified by the business needs and that all test cases are linked to requirements.
How to create RTM?
The process of creating an RTM can vary depending on the project size, complexity, and methodology. However, there are some general steps that can be followed:
- Identify and document the requirements: The first step is to gather and analyze the requirements from various sources, such as stakeholders, documents, interviews, surveys, etc. The requirements should be clear, concise, consistent, and measurable. They should also be documented in a structured format, such as a spreadsheet or a database.
- Assign a unique ID to each requirement: The next step is to assign a unique identifier or description to each requirement. This will help to distinguish and trace each requirement throughout the project lifecycle.
- Create test cases for each requirement: The third step is to create test cases that correspond to each requirement. The test cases should cover all possible scenarios and outcomes of the requirement. They should also be documented in a structured format, such as a spreadsheet or a database.
- Assign a unique ID to each test case: The fourth step is to assign a unique identifier or description to each test case. This will help to distinguish and trace each test case throughout the testing process.
- Map the requirements and test cases: The fifth step is to map the requirements and test cases in a matrix format. The matrix should show the relationship between each requirement and each test case, along with other parameters, such as status, priority, risk, etc.
- Update and maintain the RTM: The final step is to update and maintain the RTM throughout the project lifecycle. The RTM should reflect any changes in requirements, scope, test cases, defects, user acceptance, etc. The RTM should also be reviewed and verified regularly by stakeholders and project team members.
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