One of the perks of working for a consulting company is that we get to work with a variety of tools and resources depending on the needs/desires of our clients. I have been working on a project to select a requirements management tool for one of our clients. For the project itself, we are using Blueprint to manage the requirements, models, and documentation. Since this is my first time using Blueprint, I wanted to share MY opinions on the experience.
- Access and editing management – Using a cloud based system for requirements management makes sure that everyone has access to the most recent versions of all documentation. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you remembered to upload the document from your computer to a folder for everyone. You don’t have to worry about whether the file you’re using is the most recent. Possibly the biggest advantage of using it is that multiple people aren’t working on the same document, resulting in a ton of rework in order to combine the two versions of updates and possibly missing something.
- Saving and publishing – Blueprint allows you to save your changes as you work, or even when you are signing off and have to finish working later, but doesn’t publish those changes for the “public” (i.e. the other team members working on the project) until you select publish. You can save or publish changes made to an individual artifact or save/publish all of the changes you have made at one time. I love that if I have to stop working on something, I can save the changes to the system, but I don’t have to worry about my coworkers or clients looking at my half-finished work and feeling confused because they don’t know my work is still in-progress.
- Hierarchy views – You can easily define child and parent relationships when creating requirements, artifacts, or models. You can change those relationships by dragging and dropping items. You can view the indented hierarchy view in the explorer and see where everything falls in relationship to each other. This makes it easy to see if requirements are missing.
- Model creation is a little tedious – I am very OCD about model shapes being the same size, everything lining up from every direction, items being evenly spaced, etc. I am a Visio user normally. Blueprint allows me to create the same models I normally create, but has significantly less features than Visio. The process is a lot more tedious if you plan on creating polished models for including in formal documentation.
(Blueprint does allow you to import models from other sources – This may be a better option, but it isn’t something I have explored yet.)
- Browser support – Something I learned very quickly while working in Blueprint is to save often, excessively often. While rearranging the hierarchy the system would encounter an error and I’d have to refresh the page, resulting in all of my work since last clicking “save” to be lost. A coworker suggested that I try using a different browser and that alleviated most of the errors, but I still encountered occasional errors that would lose my work.
Overall, I would use Blueprint again or recommend it to someone looking for a cloud based system for requirements management. If your organization is considering adopting a system, I recommend defining and prioritizing requirements like you would for any other project in order to evaluate all of the candidates. After determining which systems provide all of the basic needs as far as capability, capacity, support, etc., hold a pilot evaluation that allows users to “play” with the top 2-3 systems using a mock project to determine the best system as far as usability and functionality. If are looking for help with something like this, I know a company I could recommend.
Do you use a requirements management tool or software? Which one do you recommend?