I’ve been coaching teams within the requirements space for the better part of the year now. Teams typically use many differing ways to manage requirements. Some teams use email, Excel, and Box. Other teams simply meet all the time to write everything down in Word, or are always within an arm’s reach for anything that may arise. Others may use delivery tools and repurpose them to try to make them fit their needs. All the teams in common recognize the need for “a better way”. There must be a better and easier way to accomplish the requirements elicitation and management within a project. Well, the good news is that there is.
Overall there are some PROs to using a requirements management tool such as organization, version control, everyone working together in the same area. However, there are a few other benefits that are a little deeper than that. For example, a requirements management tool should be methodology agnostic and should allow the team (in this case, the PO and BAs) to work collaboratively. One feature that the teams like, of a requirements management tool, is the ability to review and approve items. It’s much easier and more fluid in a tool rather than needing to email folks and collecting their email approvals. Additionally, a good requirements management tool will allow the team to perform in depth analysis of the project documentation to create a solid set of requirements. This kind of analysis combined with traceability gives the team confidence of when they are as close as possible to the ever ambiguous requirements complete goal.
As with everything that has a PRO, there is likely a CON. There is the change management hurdle where the team needs to commit to changing their ways. The team needs to see and feel the value of a tool for themselves and commit to adopting it. The change management hurdle can be insurmountable for some. We all know that the tendency for people is to avoid change. And we know that instead, we need to embrace it. As for other concerns or CONs for using a tool, there is the time needed to invest to learn the tool. In a good requirements management tool, the PRO of having it outweigh the CON of losing time and productivity to learn it. It can be annoying when the tool is down which would impact productivity, but again, anything lost within that time frame should be more than made up for when everything works as expected.
Overall, we recommend using a tool. The benefits much outweigh the reasons to not adopt a tool. Through the teams I’ve coached, I’ve seen wide changes and elation at the use of a tool. For any team, small or large, old or new, it is absolutely necessary to look into the use of a tool.