Requirements Traceability – Part 4 of 4: Using the Coverage Matrix Technique

In this final post of the four-part traceability series, we will look at a recommended traceability technique. The coverage matrix technique is specific to the “manage requirements traceability” task in the BABOK® Guide. Basically, a coverage matrix is a table or spreadsheet used to manage and facilitate tracing of requirements. This simple approach is used on simple projects where there are only a few requirements or on projects where traceability is very limited and not too detailed.

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding between using a tool and using a manual spreadsheet approach to tracing requirements and building your coverage matrix. These factors include:

Number of requirements: Generally, complex projects have more requirements which generate a greater need for a traceability tool.  In complex systems, the business analyst must strive to limit the traceability information that is maintained to a usable and reasonable set of data.

Estimated system lifetime: The longer a system or solution will be used within an organization, the greater the need for traceability using either a tool or a spreadsheet.  This will assist the team in evaluating the impacts of changes to the operational solution.  You also need to consider if this system is critical or non-critical to daily operations.

Level of organizational maturity: Traceability tools are easier to acquire and use when your requirements development and project management processes are mature.

Producing the traced requirements is a necessary step in creating the approved requirements for a project. Traced requirements are strongly recommended as an accompaniment to the approved requirements for your project. They can also assist you in maintaining requirements for re-use on your future projects.

Thank you for reading and thinking about this four-part traceability series of posts, I appreciate your attention and your comments.  As always, 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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