16 March, 2023

What is a Requirements Traceability Matrix? And How to Create One.

In this video, I want to answer the question, what is a Requirements Traceability Matrix and how do you create one?

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What is a Requirements Traceability Matrix?

A Requirements Traceability Matrix is a grid that links users’, customers’, or other stakeholders’ product, process, or service requirements to the deliverables that satisfy them.

Requirements Traceability Matrices are most often used in software projects, where they connect user requirements with elements of the final system, and document the test cases that will demonstrate that the system fulfills the requirements. 

It’s a way of tracking each need through the project process, to ensure the final set of deliverables meets them all. It is also a valuable supporting tool for evaluating change requests and keeping track of those that are approved.

So, we can see a Requirements Traceability Matrix as a core document in the process of Project Scope Management. 

The Contents of a Requirements Traceability Matrix

In a basic Requirements Traceability Matrix, each requirement will have:

  • A unique ID or reference number
  • A description
  • Reference to the stakeholder, user, or customer that needs it
  • The needs it meets or opportunities it fulfills
  • The deliverables that contribute to meeting the requirement (usually given by WBS ID)

It may also include:

  • Any design and quality standards, or specifications
  • Indicative use cases
  • Development processes
  • Tracking of changes and how different product versions meet the requirements
  • Testing requirements and scenarios, and maybe the test cases to be built.

Three Types of Traceability Matrix 

  1. Forward Traceability
    Maps the requirements to the test cases. This establishes that every requirement is being tested.
  2. Backward Traceability Matrix
    Maps test cases to the requirements. Helps to avoid ‘scope creep’ (going beyond the initial requirements).
  3. Bidirectional Traceability
    Combines forward and backward traceability into one document. Shows that each requirement has its own test cases and that each test case tests real requirements.

Requirements Traceability Matrix Tools

There are plenty of software implementations of the Requirements Traceability Matrix. 

A lot of basic project management software tools like Monday, Asana, and Click-up make it easy to create RTMs too.

But it is also easy to construct a simple RTM spreadsheet and I have added one to our Project Management Templates Kit.

Carefully curated video recommendations for you:

What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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