Requirements & traceability

IBM Rational DOORS: Automated Traceability Between Requirements, Source Code, and Tests

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The control of requirements is imperative if the quality of a software applications is to be optimized – a fact underscored by its inclusion in both security related standards (SAE J3061 and ISO/SAE 21434  - automotive,  IEC 62443 - industrial control, and DO-326 - aerospace) and the more familiar functional safety standards (ISO 26262, IEC 61508 and DO-178C correspondingly).

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is the specification, design, development and testing of a software application, each of which needs to be tracked in relation to the requirements to which they contribute. ALM tools are designed to help in this regard by automating the tasks associated with those activities.  

IBM® ALM tools are grouped together in the IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS® (formerly IBM Rational® DOORS) Family. IBM describe DOORS as “a requirements management application for optimizing requirements communication, collaboration and verification throughout your organization and supply chain”. They are therefore designed to provide facilities for the careful management and monitoring of all aspects of software development and completing the phases of design, development, testing, deployment, and ongoing enhancements. However, in common with similar tools, DOORS relies on eternal intervention to collate information on code development, verification, and validation, and to maintain that information within the ALM tool.

At the best of times that can be quite a burden. But imagine the overhead for project managers when customer requirements change, or development teams discover an error during testing, or a vulnerability is exposed. The nature and timing of these events is often such that the pressure on test management and development processes is applied at the worst possible time, straining requirements traceability – often to breaking point.

A traceability tool to automate that “missing link” between the requirements stored in DOORS, testing tools, and the source code, that also collates that information in a user friendly manner makes for a much more seamless and less error prone solution. It can ensure that the requirements traceability matrix (RTM) is permanently maintained, real time, and valid, and hence can work as a genuine reference point and not merely as an historical document that is permanently lagging events. By doing so, it also provides the transparency and audit trail required for quality and regulatory review.

The video demonstrates the operation of such a tool in practice, and the contribution it can make to high quality software development.

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