What Is a Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM)?

A requirements traceability matrix is an integral part of an embedded systems' lifecycle. It helps organizations ensure that their products are safe and are meeting their intended standards. 

This is especially important for the medical, technology, and engineering industries. But any business that has a set of goals and standards to uphold can benefit from this proven requirements analysis tool. 

Here’s how to make an effective requirements traceability matrix and why you should start one today. 

What is a traceability matrix?

A traceability matrix is a document that details the technical requirements for a given test scenario and its current state. It helps the testing team understand the level of testing that is done for a given product. 

The traceability process itself is used to review the test cases that were defined for any requirement. It helps users identify which requirements produced the most number of defects during a testing cycle. 

Not only does this show areas in need of improvement, but it also helps mitigate future roadblocks and identify process weaknesses. 

What is a requirements traceability matrix?

A requirements traceability matrix (RTM) is a tool that helps identify and maintain the status of the project’s requirements and deliverables. It does so by establishing a thread for each component. It also manages the overall project requirements. This method is straightforward and can be easily done by anyone. 

There are many kinds of RTMs. For example, a test matrix is used to prove that tests were conducted. It can also be used to identify issues and requirements during the development of software

What are the benefits of a requirements traceability matrix?

An RTM ensures that projects do everything they set out to do. This step-by-step process helps identify the requirements and the products that are required to be tested successfully. It also helps in determining the project's direction and timeline. 

First, it will support the identification of all requirements in a work product. Then, it will check to make sure there is coverage of all the requirements throughout the project’s lifetime. 

The RTM will show the requirements coverage in terms of the number of test cases, design status, and execution status. It will also show the UAT status for a specific test case. With all this information at your fingertips, your team will be able to analyze changes in requirements and make informed product development decisions on the fly. 

And because traceability links artifacts across the development lifecycle, it helps teams identify and resolve issues before they become problems. It can also help avoid the pressure of an audit. And if you do get audited, having an RTM will make it easier to demonstrate that you have complied with regulations which means you can avoid additional expenses or delays the audit may cause. 

You can even use it to track requirements from compliance regulations in a compliance matrix. That will help you understand what you need to test and develop before the work is finalized. 

In a nutshell: a requirements traceability matrix makes it easier to meet goals and manage projects. 

What do you include in a requirements traceability matrix?

Create a simple chart with the following columns: 

  • Requirements: Add sub-columns for marketing requirements, product requirements, and system-level specifications (if applicable).
  • Testing: Add a sub column for test cases and test runs.
  • Deviation: Add a sub-column for any issues. 

How to create a requirements traceability matrix in Wrike

The matrix should be created early in the project life cycle to ensure it is up-to-date and incorporates all the details necessary for the project to be successful. A project management tool like Wrike is perfect for tracking, organizing, and assessing every last rule. 

First, gather your requirements list. Add them as individual projects in Wrike. Assign a due date, priority level, and set of corresponding tasks needed to achieve compliance to each one. 

Next, each requirement must have a unique and clearly defined purpose. Add these details to the project or corresponding task description so that the assignee fully understands what they are trying to achieve. 

Then, you can also use Wrike to securely plan for and store related materials. Supporting documents such as test scripts should be prepared ahead of the actual testing process. Simply create a task, set an approver, and add the final product to your Wrike files. Control who sees it with secure sharing. 

Finally, identify gaps in coverage. If any defects are found during the test cases, then they can be listed and mapped with business requirements and test scenarios. In Wrike, you can assign each one to an individual or team. You can also add an Approver who will sign off on the task once it’s complete. 

If there are any questions or comments, the collaborators can discuss them right within the task themselves, looping in colleagues using @ mentions whenever another POV is needed. If a change request is made, you can view your existing project plans and give an informed evaluation of whether or not it can be done.

If the answer is yes, you can then drag and drop project components for a new and accurate timeline. In Wrike, projects with tasks marked as dependent on one another will maintain these connections, so when you move them, you’ll still have all of your necessary components tied together, working uninterrupted. 

Once your RTM is complete, you can duplicate your processes and workflows in Wrike by creating a template for ones you plan to repeat. This saves time and adds a layer of standardization that is crucial for meeting requirements. And because the testing process should be clearly defined to avoid any confusion, using Wrike to do so will ensure that it is carried out according to the requirements and time constraints.

Wrike provides a secure collaborative workspace to organize, test, and bring all your projects up to speed with your RTM. Ready to streamline your product development compliance? Start today with a two-week free trial of Wrike. 

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