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What is Requirements Management and Why Do You Need it?

Author: John Campbell | December 3, 2021

As products become more complex to support the growing demand for IoT and connectivity, so do the interdependencies that govern the engineering lifecycle. Without a clearly defined process for managing requirements across the lifecycle, you’ll likely be looking at scope creep, project delays, cost overruns, and poor product quality that does not meet customer needs and safety requirements.

Enter: Requirements management.

Designed to ensure product development goals are met, requirements management refers to a series of activities that maintains a current and approved set of requirements over the entire application lifecycle. More specifically, requirements management is the process of collecting, analyzing, tracing, refining, and prioritizing requirements. As a practice, requirements management plays an essential role in minimizing errors, tracking changes, and communicating updates with stakeholders throughout the project.

Team tracking requirements with post-it notes

What are the elements of a requirements management process?

A robust requirements management process generally includes the following components:

  • The requirements gathering process: Begin by gathering complete requirements for the project—even those that are less obvious. Make sure each requirement is documented with its history stored, even if it becomes invalidated or eliminated. Good requirements from the outset will ensure your team performs the right activities and tests against the right parameters.
  • Roles and responsibilities: Next, define who will be responsible for performing which activities—from the project manager, developer, tester, analyst, and more to the client, end-users, and other stakeholders.
  • Traceability: How will you track your requirements throughout the entire project lifecycle? The answer to this question will form the backbone of your requirements management program. By tracing your requirements, stakeholders and team members can get immediate insights into why a particular requirement exists, what’s changed, whether it’s complete, and more.
  • Change control: Inevitably, new requirements will emerge, and change requests will come in. By defining a formal process to manage changes to requirements, you will help to assure those changes don’t affect the overall project scope.
  • Tools: Choosing the right application lifecycle management tool is foundational to a successful requirements management process. A tool like Polarion, for example, captures all project requirements information, including stakeholder emails, reviews, changes, and comments. With the ability to gather, author, approve, and manage requirements for complex systems across the project lifecycle, you will achieve quicker, more streamlined product development timelines and smoother workflows.

With browser-based access and concurrent editing of specification documents, requirements management facilitates stronger collaboration across teams, reduces human error, supports compliance efforts, and speeds time-to-market. On a big-picture scale, requirements management helps to reduce costs, boost quality, minimize risk, and enable effective scope management to support all major aspects of an organization.

Requirements management is not a nice to have; it’s crucial. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered. Our team of Polarion consulting experts can help you adopt a requirements management program to support your software engineering goals using Polarion.

For more information about how Polarion can help you manage your requirements across your product development lifecycle, contact our team.


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