Ensure requirements are tracked throughout a project

Requirements tracking refers to the process of tracking (or tracing) requirements from the beginning of the project through implementation. It's a good practice for many projects – especially if you're building something from scratch. Requirements tracking is a good practice for two reasons.

  1. It ensures that all requirements are, in fact, implemented in the final solution. If you check at the end of the project to see whether they're all present, it might be too late to implement any that you forgot. Tracking ensures that you catch any missing requirements immediately in the lifecycle.
  2. It ensures that no features and functions are introduced outside of the requirements. For instance, if you add extra work in project design, it will be more obvious since you won't be able to track the design component back to a requirement. This will save you doing extra work that's not required.

In addition, a smaller benefit is that you may be able to track the requirement back to the source that it came from. This will help you know the right person to talk to if you have questions on the requirement.

Not all projects need to trace requirements. Smaller projects typically don't need to. If your have a set of ten requirements for an enhancement project, for instance, it's probably pretty easy to validate that they're all accounted for throughout the project lifecycle.

The easiest way to track requirements is through a simple Traceability Matrix. The Traceability Matrix provides a quick glance at all of the requirements and validates that they're being considered throughout the rest of the lifecycle. The simplest approach is to just validate that each requirement is accounted for in subsequent project phases. For instance, something like the following table might do.















The "X" in each box validates that each particular requirement was accounted for in each phase.

There are other more sophisticated way to track requirements as well. If you have many requirements in a large project, you could even look for tools that will support this requirements tracking process.

If you're going to do requirements tracking, it must be enforced throughout the lifecycle or else it doesn't work. If the team assigns tracking numbers to the requirements in the Analysis Phase, but the numbers are not utilized in the Design Phase, the whole tracking scheme will break down. Likewise, if the Design Team follows up on the tracking, but the requirements are not tracked to the actual construct components, it will be difficult to track whether they've been tested or not and the scheme will break down. If you want to track requirements, you need to have a process to track and document them throughout the project.

This tracking can be tedious, which is probably the main reason it's not done on more projects today. However, if you want to make sure you're working on the right things throughout the project (no more and no less) then requirements tracking is the technique to know for sure.