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Tools of the Trade: The Traceability Matrix

How to track the solution for requirements is an ongoing process and if proper tracking is not executed requirement/solution documentation can become a maze, if not just flat out confusing.  There are numerous ways to list solution answers to requirement and one easy method is the traceability matrix.

The traceability matrix is basically a table listing the business requirements in one column and solutions in a corresponding column.  The document removes searching for a specific solution list in one document and matching items in separate business documents.  The traceability matrix acts as a roadmap providing a guide reader through each solution and removes the confusion of juggling numerous documents.  The compilation of knowledge into one document makes answers readily available.

Another aspect to employ within the traceability matrix is the numerical identification of both requirements and solutions. Numbering requirements aids in rapid identification but what can be more revealing is numbering solutions.   Numbering solutions has a two folded benefit:

  • Easy visual identification of requirements paired to solutions
  • Clearly identifying which solution answers more than one requirement

The second benefit can guide staff to further develop a specific solution to answer numerous requirements that can reduce the efforts of producing an individual solution for each requirement.  Numbering solutions will clearly display how many times a specific solution answers a requirements.

The easiest format to set up a matrix is via a spreadsheet where software features can be leveraged for presentations and knowledge transfer to project stakeholders, teams and impacted areas.

The traceability matrix is a viable, flexible tool to employ concerning “Use Case” reviews of original and alternative paths, special requirements criteria and test plans.

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