19 July 2011

Word + Excel = Requirements Management?

Although MS Word and MS Excel cannot be seen as requirements management solutions, in practice many organizations use them to manage requirements. Why that?

Requirements are very often of textual nature, so taking a word processing tool seems obvious. In most cases MS Word is already installed and users are – more or less – familiar with it. Also, people still believe requirements must be structured by means of documents which are sometimes also requested by certain certification authorities.

But if you start categorizing your requirements in different ways, for example by priority, customer, country, product release, etc. you may find MS Word improper. Now MS Excel seems to be the better choice because attribute information can be added to the requirements in separate columns and you can even filter your requirements according to certain criteria, but unfortunately you lose the textual description and formatting capabilities.

Seems like a combination of MS Word and MS Excel is feasible to do requirements management. But: Have you ever tried to:

  • Work in parallel on the same document?
  • Find out who has done what changes and why?
  • Find out which other information (more detailed requirements, test cases, …) in which other documents is affected by an upcoming change?

Find out which of the information in your document is potentially out-dated due to changes done somewhere else? Professional requirements management solutions provide quite a lot of additional capabilities, like

  • logging the history of changes
  • the ability to create and analyze relationships between atomic information items (requirements, use cases, test cases, …)
  • suspect relations

helping to ensure consistency in the requirements throughout a project.

Do you still think Word/Excel are feasible for requirements management? Share your view…

By: Andreas Plette

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