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Seilevel’s Requirements Management Tool Selection

Over the spring, we took on a new project to identify a best of breed requirements management tool to use when our customers are not using sufficient tools. Since the thing we do is requirements….well, you won’t find it too surprising to hear that we defined requirements for a requirements management tool!

We successfully applied our vendor selection process to this project. The product management team identified actors, use cases, data types, functional and non-functional requirements. We ultimately used about 150 requirements in our selection process. To identify a vendor list, we used our knowledge of tools, our customer’s tool experiences and the INCOSE Requirements Management Tools Survey. A co-worker had previously evaluated the INCOSE survey list and eliminated many of the vendors. We did a slightly more in depth review including RequisitePro, Contour, Doors, Caliber, CaseComplete, FeaturePlan, CaseComplete and FeaturePlan. We narrowed it further to Doors, Caliber and RequisitePro based on feature richness.

I’ll jump to the punch line and tell you we selected Borland’s Caliber RM as our tool of choice and are currently piloting it on our first project! Borland has some other related tools we hope to make use of – DefineIT to help visually model use cases and Together for creating UML diagrams.

So, let me explain a little about how we came to that decision. I certainly don’t want to indicate the other tools on the market don’t have a lot of capabilities. In our analysis of features, I scored each of the vendors’ capabilities against our requirements on a 3 point scale. I prioritized each requirement on a 3 point scale. And I took the product of priority and capability scores and summed those across the requirements. Actually, the total scores of all 3 tools were very comparable! What I found was that where one tool was strong, another might be weak, but they made up for it in another set of requirements. So a couple highlights based on my opinion in looking at them:

  • Caliber is best out of the box for collaboration
  • Doors is better at imports
  • Caliber does not handle working on requirements while disconnected
  • Tables and images were handled better in Caliber and Doors than in ReqPro
  • I preferred the traceability mechanism in Caliber
  • You can map screenshots to workflows or use cases in DefineIT (links to Caliber)
  • Bulk edit is easiest to do in Caliber, much easier than Doors

So in the end, the functionality alone did not give me a clear winner, so this is where my non-functional requirements became critical to the decision. To put it simply:

  • ReqPro was by far the worst
  • Doors felt archaic
  • Caliber was just an inviting look and feel and obvious on how to use it

ReqPro was eliminated quickly at this stage. Some of this is obviously personal preference. But for example, in Caliber, I instinctively would right click to perform some actions and the menu I expected was there. It sounds simple, but I did not have that experience in Doors and it frustrated me. And actually one of my favorite things, the Requirements Grid in Caliber is slick! It was easy to do just about anything I could think to do in the grid as far as viewing, filtering and mass updating requirements.

The next thing I looked at is extensibility of the remaining contenders. Doors has an extension language, DXL, that allows you to do quite a bit. But Caliber has an API that allows you to do even more. The Doors solution means you have to learn a scripting language, but once you do it’s pretty easy to use. However, you are limited to the commands of the language. The Caliber solution means you have to have someone who can write code, however you can do far more. So I expect extending Caliber will be more challenging up front, but you have more possibilities.

I also headed out to talk to some of our customers about their experiences with the tools. Because we are in consulting, we have to pay attention to what our customers are using, to a degree. I have found a lot of people use Doors, so I couldn’t entirely ignore that. However, just because it’s popular does not mean it’s the best tool out there. I will say though I heard fantastic reviews of Doors from one of our customers. They loved the tool and they loved the team from Telelogic. Another customer of ours talked to me about RequistePro. Let’s just say I could not get him to get me excited about the tool. He himself was interested in what I found in this search process. And, we have no customers that are using Caliber, so I couldn’t compare feedback here. I did remember some data from a former trusted co-worker though, who’s preference was definitely for Caliber a few years ago after her own analysis.

Working with the teams proved to be enjoyable all around. Doors was very responsive. As we have gotten into the final selection with Borland, they too have been incredibly helpful. In both cases, I was able to work with technical people who understood the tool. They were all very patient with me as I asked them a lot of questions around how to execute scenarios in their respective tools.

So in the end, as I mentioned, we ended up selecting Caliber as our recommended tool. I would say the heaviest weighing factor for me was the look and feel and ease of use of the tool.

Now I will say there are a lot of newcomers to the market in requirements tools (or old timers coming back) and we’ll be keeping our eye on those to see how they fit into the mix. It does look like a couple of them are changing a lot faster than the big named tools are changing, but they have a long way to go on some of the critical features.

And for now, we are really excited to pilot Caliber on our first project!

5 Responses to Seilevel’s Requirements Management Tool Selection

  1. Anonymous March 6, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    Teamcenter for Requirements Management and Systems Engineering seems to be one of those “new solutions” that is preffered by users over the old generation tools.
    Integrations for modeling to MS Visio, Enterprise Architect and Rhaposdy with full UML and SysML datamodel.
    Easy to use.
    Teamcenter ranked best in several recent benchmarks and selections at our customers, so might be worth considering.

  2. Charlie April 7, 2009 at 12:18 am #

    Of the three tools that you looked at i think you came out with the right choose. I did a compete 3 years ago and looked at Caliber RM, PACE and Optimal Trace. DOORs was not an option as i have lots of experience with it.

    I ended up selection Optimal trace and the main reason was because it sat on top of an industry standard database. DOORs is a propritary flat file system and Caliber RM sits on top of Versant.

    Having worked with RTM and DOORs for years i have learned that being on a industry standard database is the only way to go if your requirements are important to you. Sounds like another topic though.

  3. Joy April 15, 2009 at 6:08 am #

    I’ve not looked at Optimal Trace recently but would like to. So far the database has not been an issue for us, but it did come up in consideration for us.

  4. Adam Feldman April 24, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    We are launching our web-based Requirements Management tool in the next few weeks which we are calling Bright Green Projects.

    Bright Green takes advantage of the latest collaboration technologies, giving a new approach to capture requirements. Bright Green can also be used to capture Risks, Issues and Actions.

    Check us out at http://www.brightgreenprojects.com



  1. Requirements Management Tool Resources : Practical Analyst - December 23, 2014

    […] Seilevel’s Requirements Management Tool Selection – I’ve always enjoyed the Seilevel blog and message board as a resource for business analysis insight. In post linked above, Joy shares Seilevel’s process in selecting a requirements management tool to recommend to their clients. She also provides a useful comparison between three “heavy hitters” in the requirements management space – Telelogic (now IBM) Doors, Rational Requisite Pro, and Borland Caliber Analyst. I won’t steal their thunder and share their final recommendation here, but advise you to go have a read. […]

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