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Satisfying Needed Scope Versus Wants

What is the definition of Requirements Traceability Matrix? It’s a table that links requirements to their origin and traces them throughout the project life cycle.  Not everyone uses them. There are many templates and means to ensure your project meets the requirements.  But I can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure you’re working to satisfy the requirements (or scope) first.  I reviewed a vendor’s progress report today and realized the very last task they had on their activity list was requirement mapping.  When asked why it was the last item on their list, their response was the activity wasn’t on the critical path.  So, how on Earth were they going to know they were done, if they didn’t map the requirements first?  Here they are, at the end of a development cycle, and we’re being told the requirement mapping activity is just basically a clerical process.

Imagine the frustration I suffered, knowing all too well they may have missed something.  Imagine how expensive it could be, to fix at the end versus the beginning of the development cycle?  I’m not saying the vendor didn’t do a lot of work or deliver a lot of product.  Unfortunately, they spent way too much time satisfying the daily wants of a stakeholder and took their focus off the needs of satisfying project requirements in the process.

What do you think?  I’m a being too much of a control freak?

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of ALM Platforms at LeadingAgile. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon). Novice angel investor.

2 Responses to “Satisfying Needed Scope Versus Wants”

  1. February 24, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    No, you’re not a control freak!

    I’m starting to think we should stop saying ‘testing’ or ‘quality assurance’ and just start calling it ‘measuring if your are actually finished’.

    The idea that the requirements traceability matrix is actually part of the process of managing what you are delivering has been kinda lost.

    There is sometimes a backlash to this too. I had a great experience many years ago when a major program was basically given a month to do 8 months worth of development.

    I didn’t like it at first but I soon realise that the strategy was to just start the testing processes (which included managing the requirements traceability matrix) as early as possible.

    The independent testing team just started answering the ‘are we done yet?’ question as early as possible.

    At first the answer was ‘no’. And then they realised that didn’t really have a formal way of answering the question at all. And finally… much later… the question was answered: ‘we are done. this is the proof.’.

  2. February 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    No, you’re not a control freak!

    I’m starting to think we should stop saying ‘testing’ or ‘quality assurance’ and just start calling it ‘measuring if your are actually finished’.

    The idea that the requirements traceability matrix is actually part of the process of managing what you are delivering has been kinda lost.

    There is sometimes a backlash to this too. I had a great experience many years ago when a major program was basically given a month to do 8 months worth of development.

    I didn’t like it at first but I soon realise that the strategy was to just start the testing processes (which included managing the requirements traceability matrix) as early as possible.

    The independent testing team just started answering the ‘are we done yet?’ question as early as possible.

    At first the answer was ‘no’. And then they realised that didn’t really have a formal way of answering the question at all. And finally… much later… the question was answered: ‘we are done. this is the proof.’.

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