Requirements Traceability – Part 1 of 4: Managing Requirements Traceability

Managing requirements traceability is part of the tasks found in the Requirements Management and Communication knowledge area of the BABOK® Guide.  Traceability is an important characteristic of requirements, particularly in complex projects. Traced requirements have clearly defined and identified relationships to the other requirements found within the solution scope.

Requirements traceability provides you and your team with the ability to identify and document the lineage of each requirement. A requirement’s lineage includes its relationship to other project requirements, to work products and to the solution components.  When a business analyst says that they can trace a requirement, they are telling you that they can look at that specific requirement and all other requirements that it is related to. Traceability is usually achieved by putting the requirements in a table, spreadsheet or tool to manage the tracing activities.

Traceability begins on a project with the project’s business objectives.  The business objectives are used to determine the business requirements.  In turn, the business requirements are decomposed into the more detailed stakeholder requirements level.  Stakeholder requirements get broken down once more into the detailed solution requirements that transition the project team from requirements definition to solution design and development. All of these requirements that make up a project’s solution scope should trace back to one or more business objectives for that project. Here are the three main aspects of requirements traceability: 

  • Derivation: Backward traceability of a requirement to its higher-level parent
  • Allocation: Forward traceability of a requirement to its more detailed children
  • Relationship: Tracing the dependency and interrelationship of a requirement to other project requirements

Traceability can be built and maintained at many levels within a given set of project requirements. Traceability usually begins with tracing the current requirements under development to the higher-level requirements that they are being derived from.  For example, when the business analyst is building the solution requirements for a project, the first aspect of traceability that they will address is derivation from the stakeholder requirements that preceded them.

In my next post of this series, we will take a look at the more detailed BABOK® Guide recommendations for traceability across your project requirements.

Happy tracing!

Susan Weese

If you are considering sitting the CBAP or CCBA certification exams for business analysts, check out our new study guide that can help you prepare to pass the test, the CBAP / CCBA: Certified Business Analysis Study Guide by Susan Weese and Terri Wagner!  It’s a great place to learn more about each of the 6 knowledge areas and everything else you need to know to successfully pass the certification exam.

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