Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM): Types, and Tools

Tracking project requirements can be challenging, depending on your development environment. Some projects may only have a few requirements, while others may have dozens. Several types of requirements should be considered for software development, and including:

  • Business requirements
  • User requirements
  • UI requirements
  • Functional and nonfunctional requirements
  • Technical requirements

It’s not uncommon for businesses to roll out new software with issues and bugs that cost countless dollars. In a matter of just minutes, a large company could be out millions depending on the severity of the issue.

To prevent costly errors, this is where a traceability matrix comes into play. We’ll show you how to take your project management skills to the next level with this solution and how to take your career to new heights!

What is a Traceability Matrix?

A traceability matrix (TM) is a document that correlates any two baselined documents which require a many-to-many relationship comparison, checking the completeness of said relationship.

Primarily, a traceability matrix is used to 

  • Keep tabs on requirements
  • Ensure fulfillment of the project requirements 

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What is the Requirements Traceability Matrix?

So, how is the requirements traceability matrix (RTM) any different? 

RTM captures all requirements proposed by the client and their traceability in just one document delivered at the end of the life-cycle.

This is where the software industry comes into play. In a software development project, RTM is a document used to verify that all of the requirements are connected to test cases. The principal reason project managers use RTM is to confirm that all requirements will be accounted for in the testing phase. 

RTM usually helps to evaluate the impact of project requirements. When requirements shift in the middle of a project, a traceability matrix lets you see the impacted workflows, test cases, training materials, software code, etc.

Whether you’re beginning to explore project management or have a few years of experience under your belt, it’s vital that you understand the requirements traceability matrix and how it can benefit your project management processes and career. 

Benefits of RTM

While we’ve touched on the utility of the requirements traceability matrix, let’s get into a few of the specifics

Versioning is Easier and More Effective

As a project manager, it’s not uncommon for the requirements of your project to undergo modification at some point. RTM helps you trace these shifts and how it impacts every part of your project. 

Don’t Forget About Documentation

A traceability matrix can help in the effort to provide proper and consistent documentation for your team. From test cases to wireframes to user stories, a TM allows you to see if a requirement is fully documented. A requirement traceability matrix can even call attention to missing requirements. 

Tackling Defects

Let’s say you’re working on a rather extensive software project in the test manager role. With a sizeable backlog of defects, you must tackle the most relevant issues first. 

A traceability matrix can aid you in filtering defects linked to crucial requirements, along with defect severity, priority, and more. Finally, RTM establishes complete test coverage.

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How to Create Traceability Matrix?

Now that you know the benefits let’s review the steps for creating a requirements traceability matrix.

If you’re new to RTM, this may seem like a lot of information to digest in one sitting. Fortunately, there are plenty of videos, templates, examples, and tutorials to get you started on the learning path. Here is the quick and straightforward version:

  1. Establish your RTM goals by laying out your reason for creating the RTM. 
  2. Gather all accessible requirement documentation, such as the technical requirement document (TRD) or functional requirement document (FRD), and business requirement document (BRD). You’ll also need testing documentation, like test cases, results, and bugs. 
  3. To make a simple RTM document, you can use an Excel spreadsheet. Create columns for business requirements, functional requirements, test cases, test results, and bugs. Then, record each requirement from BRD with a requirement ID number. 
  4. Take the FRD and record all corresponding functional requirements for every business requirement. 
  5. Connect test case IDs to the corresponding functional requirements. 
  6. Finally, remember to update your traceability matrix when a change occurs. 

Now that you have a basic idea of how to create RTM let’s look at types and tools.

Types of Traceability Matrix 

There are three types of RTM: forward traceability, backward traceability, and bidirectional traceability.

1. Forward Traceability 

Forward traceability is used to map the requirements to the test cases. Not only will this establish that every requirement is being tested from top to bottom, but it will also assist in confirming that a project’s trajectory is sound. 

2. Backward Traceability Matrix 

You can make a backward traceability matrix by mapping test cases with the requirements. Doing so aids you in avoiding “scope creep” and going beyond the initial requirements unnecessarily. 

3. Bidirectional Traceability

Bidirectional traceability essentially combines forward and backward traceability into one document. This type is useful because it establishes that each requirement has relating test cases. 

RTM Tools

If an Excel spreadsheet isn’t your style, consider these requirements management tools

  • Visure Requirements: This tool is provided by Visure Solutions, which is focused on business-critical and safety-critical industries. Its Visure Requirements tool provides complete traceability. 
  • Modern Requirements4DevOps: This tool is integrated with Microsoft's Azure DevOps, TFS, and VSTS, and gives project managers traceability through every stage of the process. 
  • ReQtest: Providing traceability from project start to finish; this tool is based in the cloud. It has a very customizable requirement module that assists project managers in quickly evaluating and tracing changes. 
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Next Level Project Management

Simplilearn is proud to answer your questions regarding the requirements traceability matrix, and we encourage you to further your professional development! If you’re ready to take your project management career to the next level and master the ins and outs of RTM, enroll in our PMP Certification Training Course. 

The globally recognized PMP certification can help you land lucrative roles in IT, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, and other exciting industries. Certified PMP individuals drive better project performance and are often rewarded with substantial pay raises.

Not only does this Simplilearn's PMP Certification Training Course examine new practices and trends, but it also includes hands-on projects, increases your project performance, and helps you obtain the role of your dreams.

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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