There are a number of requirements management tools on the market that can help Business Analysts and project teams more efficiently document, communicate, and manage requirements.  Most have integration points with modeling, development, and testing tools allowing teams to trace requirements through the project lifecycle.

I want to stress that these tools will help you increase your efficiency.  This implies that you have already implemented a requirements management process/methodology that teams are effectively using.  Requirements management tools will make you more efficient only if you have a methodology that everyone understands.  Here are some steps to take before you start looking to purchase a tool.

  1. Create and document a requirements management methodology.  Know what your needs are before finding a technical solution.  The methodology should include what your requirements package looks like, how you categorize requirements, what attributes you track, how you trace requirements, and who does what and at what point in the project.
  2. Implement this methodology using tools like Microsoft Word which mostly everyone has access to and knows how to use.
  3. Use this methodology on pilot projects, identify lessons learned, and make the necessary adjustments.
  4. Establish a support structure where project teams can get assistance with using the methodology and provide feedback.  The support team should be responsible for making adjustments to the methodology and communicating the changes.
  5. Roll out the methodology to all teams in your organization.
  6. When the methodology (process) is in place and the people using the methodology are effectively implementing it, you can begin looking for a tool to increase your efficiency.
  7. Use your requirements management methodology as your requirements for the tool.

If you do the above successfully you have a great chance for a successful tool implementation.  The good news is that some of the tool vendors don’t shy away from the fact that you should have a methodology in place.

I would love to hear from others that have implemented or are planning to implement a requirements management tool.  Please share your thoughts and experiences.

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