Benefits of requirements traceability

Requirements traceability gives you insights into your project structure, namely the existing artifacts and their relations.

In addition, you can compare the existing data to the expected data. The expectations may e.g. be given in the form of a Traceability Information Model.

Typical traceability analyses are:

  • Impact analysis: Analyze the relations of a single artifact to determine the impact when this artifact changes or has a suspect state. Common use cases are analysis of the impact of a requirement change or figuring out which software component is buggy if a test-case fails.
  • Coverage analysis: This analysis compares the existing traces of an artifact to the expected traces. A coverage analysis may e.g. identify requirements that are not yet “covered” (i.e. there is no such chain of links) by a test case.

Based on traceability data, you can define KPIs for your project. Imagine e.g. a software project which defines the status of customer requirements as follows

  • New = not traceable to any other artifact
  • Analyzed = traceable to at least one software requirement
  • Implemented = traceable to a software unit

If you can manage your data well, you may set up an automated KPI reporting which runs periodically. If your traceability model does also consider project management data such as development tasks with effort estimations, you can even calculate your project progress automatically.

An empirical study revealed that in the field of maintenance, subjects performed their tasks 24% faster and reduced the error rate by 50% with traceability applied.

Traceability also helps you to prove compliance with development processes or standards. Due to its benefits, traceability is, in fact, mandatory for most of these standards. If your driver for traceability is standard compliance, be aware that traceability is mandatory for a reason. Do not strive to set up traceability with minimal efforts. Instead, consider maximizing the ratio of benefits to efforts.