Requirements Traceability – Part 3 of 4: Key Dependencies and Relationships

Now that we have looked at and thought about some of the details involved in requirements traceability, let’s dig a little deeper and look at some more requirements traceability details.

Remember that the key dependencies and relationships between requirements should be recorded so they can be traced across and even beyond your project life cycle.  Creating and maintaining this information assists you in sequencing your project work activities to design and deploy the solution defined by the requirements. Traceability also assists you with correctly allocating your project requirements to your solution components.

According to the BABOK Guide, there are five common relationships between requirements that may be tracked and recorded during and after requirements development. Here they are for your review: 

  1. Necessity: A requirement and another related requirement must be implemented at the same time for a specific reason.
  2. Effort: A requirement is easier to implement if a related requirement is implemented at the same time.
  3. Subset: A requirement is a decomposed outcome (one of the children) of another requirement. 
  4. Cover: A higher-level requirement is the sum of its sub-requirements.  In this case, all of the sub-requirements must be implemented in order for this higher-level requirement to be met. 
  5. Value: Including a particular requirement increases or decreases the desirability of implementing a related requirement.

On my projects, I have found that traceability facilitates better decision making when it comes to assessing the impact of change requests on my project. For example, if an approved requirement changes on my project, I often find myself using the traceability matrix to review the impact of that change on other requirements or on the solution components. 

Although traceability can be done manually using a spreadsheet, complex projects often require a more streamlined approach. Many business analysts prefer to use a requirement management tool or a configuration management system to trace large numbers of requirements.  We will look closer at this topic in my final post of this four-part traceability series.

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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