What does it cost to write a requirement? What implications does a poorly defined requirement have for your organization? When deciding what requirement software tools your process needs these questions become central. Requirements serve as the conduit for expressing the purpose and objectives of your project. The intricacy of your project’s objectives often corresponds to the complexity of the requirement, its development process, and subsequently, the tools used during this process. 

Ultimately there is no right or wrong tool within the space of requirements. Instead, it is a combination of tools and methods fitted to a company’s specific requirement process that results in the right solution. 

Some companies employ a highly standardized process for requirements elicitation, while others adopt a more simple, streamlined approach. The variation in these processes depends on numerous factors: the complexity of the project, the nature of the industry, the size of the team, and the level of maturity of the requirements process. 

Amidst this complexity, two software tools often arise as support for the requirement development process: requirement management tools and requirement quality tools. While they share the common goal of optimizing the requirements stage, they serve distinct purposes, providing value in different areas of the development cycle.

Requirement Management vs. Requirement Quality

Teams occasionally perceive these tools and their functions as interchangeable, a misconception that can significantly derail the requirement process. Confusing the value each tool provides can result in a false sense of security. Employing a management tool to improve quality will not result in a productive process.

A chart comparing the different functionalities of requirement management software and requirement quality analysis software.

Figure 1: Requirement Software Tool Comparison Chart

Conversely, assuming a quality tool can provide organizational assistance would be incorrect. It is crucial to recognize and appreciate the distinct contributions each tool makes to ensure a more streamlined and effective development journey.

During our interactions with customers, we observed a knowledge gap regarding the differences in use cases for different tools. Drawing on our experience in creating and distributing requirement quality analysis software, as well as our collaborative efforts with requirement management platforms, we created a piece of content that allows engineers to make an informed decision regarding the optimal method for their requirement team. 

After reading this blog you will be able to confidently:

  • Recognize the applications of requirement management tools, and requirement quality tools, in the context of requirements.
  • Understand the value and investment associated with each tool, encompassing both financial and labor considerations. 
  • Select the right tool or tool stack to enhance your requirement project and promote project success.

For quick reference, Figure 1 illustrates the value each tool brings to different project stages and challenges. 

What is a Requirement Management Tool?

A requirement management tool is designed to facilitate requirement development, management, organization and use throughout a requirement’s lifecycle. The software is primarily used for capturing, documenting, tracking, and managing the requirements of a project or product. Usually used for large teams working on complex projects, these tools provide the structure and organization of a requirement process, while the authors provide the content. 

What Are the Benefits of a Requirement Management Tool?

  • Requirement Capture
  • Requirement Decomposition and Linking
  • Organization and Prioritization
  • Traceability
  • Change Management
  • Collaboration and Communication
  • Version Control

While the benefits of a requirement management tool may be promising, the value comes at an investment of labor and capital. 

As the market demands more intricate technology solutions, the likelihood of projects falling prey to over-engineering increases. Introducing tools without thorough consideration exposes your requirement process to the same risk. Before jumping into the tool consider if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. 

Requirement Management Tool Drawbacks: 

Learning Curve: Requirement management platforms are powerful tools that come at the expense of user complexity. Navigating the learning curve of a new requirement management platform may demand a substantial investment of time, delaying the realization of productivity gains for your engineering teams.

Content Issues: A requirement management platform will not improve the quality of your requirements. Teams adopting a requirement management tool must understand that the quality of the requirements remains the same, the tool does not inherently elevate the substance or quality of the requirements themselves. Integrating a new requirement management tool with poor requirements will result in well-organized, well-managed rubbish. Despite the adoption of the tool, the fundamental quality of the requirements is contingent upon the team’s efforts or additional quality-specific tools. Engineers cannot enhance low-quality requirements to meet high standards solely through the processes of organization and arrangement.

Adaption Complications: When switching to a requirement management tool all of your existing requirement data must be transferred to the new tool — a laborious task. Your team’s time will be consumed by data transfer onto an unfamiliar tool, once again delaying the productivity benefits of the platform.

Unnecessary complexity: Not all teams need a requirement management platform. The complexity of these tools may not be suitable for small teams with simplified requirement processes. 

Cost: Acquiring and maintaining a robust requirement management tool will involve significant upfront and ongoing costs. This can be a constraint, especially for smaller organizations with limited budgets.

Maintenance overhead: Regular maintenance and updates may be necessary, requiring additional time and effort from the IT department or system administrators.

Process integration: Introducing a requirement management platform will fundamentally change your requirement development process; requirement authoring, editing, and approval will all take on a new form. While the adoption of a new process holds the promise of added benefits, it may concurrently introduce a spectrum of new challenges.

What is a Requirement Quality Analysis Tool?

A requirement quality tool focuses on the content of your requirements rather than the organization. The tool automates the assessment, quality assurance, and standardization of your requirements. While a requirement management tool might facilitate a central source of truth for a project, a quality analysis tool ensures that this central source is objective. The requirements will convey the same information no matter the individual reading them. 

While achieving a universally consistent interpretation of requirements appears straightforward, the inherent ambiguity of natural language complicates this task. Meanings shift and evolve across individuals, projects, and timelines. Requirements prone to conveying varied meanings pose a latent design flaw, ready to manifest at any moment. A quality analysis tool reduces the risk of this miscommunication. This benefit stands as one of the biggest differentiators from a requirement management tool. 

Using our analysis software QVscribe as an example let’s explore the benefits of a requirement quality analysis tool. 

What Are the Benefits of a Requirement Quality Analysis Tool?

  • Assured Quality of Requirements
  • Consistency Across Projects
  • Risk Management
  • Time and Cost Savings
  • Alignment With Industry Standards
  • Objective Evaluation
  • Efficient Change Management
  • Continuous Improvement and Education
  • Easy Implementation and Limited Onboarding Downtime 

Evaluating the Right Requirement Development Tool for You

Various tools symmetrically laid out on a green background.

The first thing to note is that the value of each tool is dependent on the issues and challenges present in a requirement process. Figuring out what tool or combination of tools is right for your team largely depends on where the friction lies within your requirement developmentprocess.

It might not necessarily be an either-or scenario; instead, a strategic approach could involve the effective implementation of both options. Consider what the true value and subsequent cost of a requirement is. Requirements are the medium through which a project’s intent and goal are communicated. Ensuring these are clear, and accessible is imperative. 

The important work within requirements lies not in the time it takes to the author but in the time it takes to consider the necessity and intent of the requirement. When looking through Figure 1 try to imagine where requirements are costing you the most and where they are bringing the most value for your team. Could this be improved, or rearranged? Could your requirements be serving you more? Locating the point at which technological intervention could provide the most value is the key step in finding the right tool for your team. 

Three coworkers gathered around a table with various documents and charts in front of them.

Once again the decision on what tool or tools to use goes back to the issues in your process and the opportunities for optimization. If your organization is having requirement consistency trouble, pinpoint why. Is it documentation, the contents of that documentation, or perhaps both? 

Complex technology naturally breeds complex problems; the solution to which may require support from different pressure points. 

Overcoming challenges in change management, scheduling delays, consistency issues, or any other issues within your engineering process may require varied forms of support. Creating a strategic tool stack and understanding the capabilities and limitations of each tool within this stack constitute the most potent solution.

Although the value propositions for each tool seem to overlap, they solve the same issues from vastly different approaches. 

One aspect in which requirement management tools provide consistency across projects in terms of organization and requirement linking. While a quality tool ensures the content and format of the requirement remain consistent from project to project. 

Similarly, a requirement management tool provides a meticulously organized requirement foundation easing the challenges of alignment when undergoing change management. Whereas a quality tool ensures that requirements are clear, concise, and objective ensuring no miscommunications when altering projects or processes. 

Project Management Tool as Requirement Management Tools: A Side Note

Jira Software Logo

A clear perspective on this topic requires a discussion regarding project management tools and their applicability to the requirement process. 

Project management tools such as Jira have been used for requirement authoring and management, although it is not the original intent of the tool, but rather a makeshift solution.

Small companies with minimal or unregulated requirements have found success using project management software for requirement purposes. It provides a central hub of requirement documentation within a tool a company is assumedly already using. However, the functionality of this software is limited in regards to requirement management. 

You cannot link, or trace requirements; reusing requirements is problematic as historical documentation is not as robust as other tools. There is no automated quality control or version control. The primary motivation for utilizing the tool stems from its current adoption by a team, saving the team money and implementation efforts. 

If you are looking to improve the quality of your requirements or the organization of your requirements, this option is not for you. However, if you are a small team looking for a simple requirement tool and are already using a project management tool, then this solution might be right for you. 

The Perfect Tech Stack for Your Requirement Process

Each tool brings value to the requirement process but in vastly different ways. Requirement management platforms provide a means to view the interconnectivity of requirements, and how they decompose and interact. Requirement quality tools however ensure that the management tool is housing quality content, and allows teams to improve requirement authoring immediately and over time. 

The correct requirement software is the tool that works within the boundaries of your organization. Factors such as budget constraints, team size, project complexity, development pace, industry nuances, and regulations play pivotal roles in shaping the most suitable process for your needs. 

The decision to add new tools doesn’t have to be immediate. Tools can be gradually incorporated, giving teams time to adapt to the new process and technology. Even if your current tool stack appears sufficient for your current needs, integrating another thoughtfully chosen tool can help remove and eliminate previously undetected barriers in your workflow.

While we may be biased, we believe that quality is imperative no matter the project’s complexity. That is why our quality analysis software integrates directly into requirement management tools of all levels. If you want management and quality you don’t have to choose. 

In fact, if your requirement process has evolved in complexity we recommend the adoption of both a requirement management tool and a requirement quality tool. Employing a quality tool like QVscribe, seamlessly integrated into your management system, guarantees optimized requirements and ensures a streamlined process from every perspective.

Attaining maturity and optimization in the requirement process is not achieved through the indiscriminate use of numerous tools; rather, it is realized when the appropriate tools are strategically deployed. The right tool, for the right team, implemented at the right time. 

Find out how automated requirement analysis software can become a powerful tool in your tech stack. 

Don’t know if a requirement management tool is right for your team? Watch our webinar and find out!