For product development or upgradation projects, business analysts, product managers, and project managers have to collect and track requirements from multiple stakeholders. They also have to document all the requirements correctly, prioritize them, and communicate the expected turnaround time (TAT) to stakeholders.
Requirements management software can make the job of gathering, tracking, analyzing, and prioritizing requirements easier and faster. It helps get all stakeholders on the same page by offering real-time notifications of changes to the requirements or project priorities.
We understand you’re hard-pressed for time and wouldn’t be able to check out all the requirements management solutions available on the market. To help you, we’ve put together this buyers guide that explains the key aspects to consider when finalizing a requirements management tool.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
What is requirements management software?
Requirements management software is a type of project management tool that helps document and share project requirements with multiple stakeholders. It helps collect inputs from stakeholders, store them at a centralized location, and collaborate with various project teams. It also lets users track pending requirements and prioritize them based on different project needs.
Documenting different project requirements in ReqView (Source)
Common features of requirements management software
In this section, we’ll discuss the common features of requirements management tools.
||Gather project requirements from multiple stakeholders via emails, web forms, or other communication channels.
||Share files and discuss project requirements and status via emails or integrated discussion boards.
||Use built-in document templates to record project requirements, import or export requirements documents, and store them at a centralized location.
||Build customized visual aids, such as project diagrams and mock-ups, to help users understand the different requirements, constraints, and process rules for every stage of the project.
|Traceability and impact analysis
||Define the relationships between different requirements, and calculate the impact of changing requirements on the project plan.
||Arrange requirements and related tasks based on their priority, and track the estimated TAT of all pending requirements.
|Security and permissions
||Use data access controls to ensure requirements documents can be accessed only by authorized members. Also, use encryption and other security methods to store and share the documents securely.
What type of buyer are you?
Before you start evaluating requirements management software options, you'll want to know which buyer category you belong to. Most buyers belong to one of the below categories.
- Small businesses (fewer than 100 employees): These buyers have a small number of users or stakeholders involved in their projects. They can opt for lower-priced editions of requirements software tools that offer commonly needed functions such as requirements collection, integrated discussion boards, project collaboration, and requirements traceability.
- Midsize and large businesses (over 100 employees): These buyers have to collect project requirements from multiple users or stakeholders, so they need a software platform with strong collaboration, traceability, and change management capabilities. They should opt for a tool that lets them gather requirements via various communication channels, offers real-time notifications about project changes or updates, and allows the use of brand colors and company logos on requirements docs, among other functions. Besides these features, such buyers should also seek APIs for custom integrations.
Benefits of requirements management software
Requirements management software may seem like an additional expense, but it offers many benefits. In this section, we’ve listed its key benefits.
- Avoid confusion and conflicts around project requirements: Confusion and conflicts regarding project requirements are common, especially for complex projects that have longer durations or involve multiple teams or stakeholders. Requirements management software can help avoid these conflicts by accurately documenting and storing all requirements, notifying users of any changes in requirements or priorities, and ensuring all required approvals are taken during every stage of the project.
- Reduce costs and errors: The software ensures every stakeholder is on the same page about project requirements to reduce the time and costs involved in back-and-forth communication or rework. It also lets you track the TAT of requirements and related tasks, so nothing is missed or forgotten. This helps ensure all requirements are completed on time, and there aren’t any undue delays.
- Monitor the status of all project requirements: With the help of a requirements tool, you no longer need to email your subordinates or colleagues to know the status of different project requirements. The tool automatically notifies you about completed and pending requirements and what has changed since the last time you reviewed the requirements management plan. This helps avoid multiple back-and-forth emails as well as confusion about who owns or has requested which requirement.
Key considerations when selecting requirements management software
Here are some additional aspects you may want to keep in mind when shortlisting requirements management tools.
- Integration: You could be using a variety of applications for requirements documentation (e.g., Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, whiteboard software, collaboration software, chat tools). Ensure the requirements management solution you’ve selected can integrate with all your existing tools for seamless exchange and sharing of project data and requirements docs.
- Storage limits: Check if your shortlisted vendors have any storage limitations for their requirements software. You shouldn’t realize midway through your project that the storage capacity allotted to you is less than what your project needs.
- Mobile app: A mobile app can be of great help if you want to monitor project requirements when you’re away from your desk or office. Check if the requirement management tool you’re planning to buy offers mobile apps for iOS and Android devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
- Cloud versus on-premise: Requirements management solutions can be deployed on the cloud or on-premise. Cloud-based solutions are easy to set up and have low upfront costs. But in the long run (say five to 10 years), on-premise software tools tend to have a lower total cost of ownership. They also offer better customization options. Select a deployment option that best suits your project needs and complexity.
Market trends to understand
Here are some latest developments in the requirements management software market that you should be aware of.
- Requirements management software vendors adapting their solutions to DevOps practices: DevOps is a software development process that uses agile practices to shorten product development time. It requires a project team to work quickly in an environment where business requirements change often. Software vendors are tweaking their requirements management platforms to make them more agile by allowing users to simulate requirement changes and understand their impact on the project plan. Continuous integration and compliance management are some other features being added to requirements management solutions to support DevOps practices.
- Use of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve various facets of requirements management: AI and natural language processing algorithms are being added to requirement management tools to accurately collect and read unstructured requirements data, improve requirement traceability and prioritization, and offer relevant suggestions related to project requirements.
Note: The application selected in this article is an example to show a feature in context and is not intended as an endorsement or a recommendation. It has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.