In software lifecycle, traceability refers often to “requirements traceability”. But that’s not all. Being able to trace every items along the development process is a significant factor in assuring quality software development and maintenance. In a talk we gave at TuleapCon 2019, we sum up of what is software traceability, how Tuleap enables to reach it and we’ve played the demo of a code auditing. Watch this talk (in French) and continue reading below to learn more.
What is Traceability in Software Development
Traceability in software development is an essential practice that involves establishing and documenting the relationships between the various elements of a software project. It enables project teams to track and manage dependencies and changes throughout the software lifecycle. By creating links or traceability matrices, stakeholders can gain an in-depth understanding of how different project elements are connected, such as requirements, specifications, tests, source code, and more. This promotes efficient project management, facilitates testing processes and ensures proper change management. Traceability in software development is a powerful tool that improves collaboration, mitigates risk and ultimately contributes to the successful delivery of high-quality software products.
Talk and demo of a code auditing
The Benefits of Traceability
From a business point of view
From the perspective of the business, traceability in software development offers several advantages.
- Be align with market needs evolve : it allows the company to align evolving market or customer needs with the software being developed. By tracking requirement changes, development teams ensure they are creating the “right product” that meets the current market demands, not just focusing on building the product correctly. This alignment helps the company stay competitive by delivering software that fulfills the actual needs of their customers and partners.
- Assess accurately the impact of changes and follow the history : properly implemented traceability enables teams to accurately assess the impact of changes, track the complete history of product development, and keep everyone involved in sync. This feature is particularly beneficial for managing complex projects with multiple stakeholders, ensuring transparency and facilitating effective communication throughout the development process.
- Satisfy industry compliance requirements: for industry and regulatory standards such as CMMI, ITIL, and ISO. By establishing traceability links between requirements, specifications, tests, and other project deliverables, companies can demonstrate compliance and ensure they meet the necessary standards. This is especially critical in industries like the medical, the automotive, and the aeronautics ones, where delivering audit-ready software is a mandatory requirement.
From the software engineering point of view
From the perspective of software engineering, traceability provides distinct advantages as well.
- Avoid the loss of critical information : by capturing the history of the software development process. When a developer leaves the team, you lose his/her knowledge about the software creation. Having traceability allows for preserving their knowledge and insights about the software creation. Tracing project items through the development process helps future developers to understand the software life. Developers can refer to the traceability matrix to understand the software’s evolution and make informed decisions based on previous work.
- Facilitate process improvement : traceability facilitates process improvment by enabling teams to understand what has been done throughout the software development lifecycle. By tracing project items, including requirements, tests, and testing activities, you gain insights into your strengths and weaknesses. This understanding of how you build software allows you to identify areas where team is strong and where it has difficulties. With this knowledge, teams can make informed decisions and implement strategies to enhance the way they work.
In summary, traceability in software development, supported by RTM (Requirements Traceability Matrix), offers advantages both from a business perspective and in the realm of software engineering. It aligns market needs with the software developed, satisfies compliance requirements, preserves knowledge, and facilitates process improvement. By leveraging traceability, businesses can deliver high-quality software that meets customer expectations, while development teams can enhance their practices and drive efficiency in the software development lifecycle.
How to achieve a complete traceability on the overall software development lifecycle
To achieve complete traceability throughout the software development lifecycle in an effective and efficient manner, it is crucial to select a reliable tool that automates the creation of relationships. Keep in mind that a simple Microsoft Excel table may not be enough. Instead, a robust traceability tool is needed, possessing the following key characteristics:
- Integration: The tool should offer seamless integration, enabling the establishment of relationships between requirements and any other types of software-related information. These can include documents, features, defects, code revision, tests, jobs, and discussions, among others. This integrated approach ensures that all relevant aspects of the project are interconnected, promoting a holistic view of the software development process.
- Bi-directionality: The traceability tool must support bi-directional traceability, allowing for traceability links to be established both from requirements to end products and from end products back to requirements. This bidirectional traceability enables stakeholders to track the flow of information and ensure that the final products are aligned with the original requirements.
- Methodology Agnostic: The traceability tool should be methodology agnostic, accommodating both agile and traditional development processes. Traceability is a crucial element in all software development methodologies, as it ensures that the end product meets the expectations of the final users. Regardless of the chosen methodology, the traceability tool should provide the necessary features and flexibility to support the specific project requirements.
By selecting a traceability tool that incorporates these attributes, project teams can effectively manage and track the relationships between requirements, tests, and other project elements. This comprehensive traceability not only promotes efficient project management but also enables businesses to align their software development efforts with the expectations of end users. Finnaly, a well-implemented traceability management solution enhances the quality and success of software projects, ensuring that they meet both technical and business objectives.
Achieve traceability with Tuleap Enterprise
With Tuleap Enterprise Edition, you can easily achieve end-to-end traceability throughout your product’s development cycle. Tuleap Enterprise facilitates linking between requirements, code, issues, reviews, tasks and tests. From the first requirements to the final file release with test campaigns, achieve ISO and industry standards, being able to trace any items through the project life. This ensures consistency and facilitates compliance audits.
Regulatory compliance with Tuleap
Companies with demanding ISO and standard regulation compliance hit quality software development with Tuleap Enterprise. Here are two examples from the automotive and medical industries :