(if you weren’t there and don’t have a copy, you can download a PDF version).
Being at the INCOSE event reminded me of the very active and interesting discussion I recently provoked on the INCOSE LinkedIn group with the posting of the link to my previous blog post ‘Traceability – How Much is Enough?’. It’s a great read with some very provocative statements about whether traceability is at all useful and that it’s the root cause of failure on projects that overrun and overspend versus those that say it’s absolutely vital on safety-critical systems or where the project is contract-driven. In the end I think some consensus was reached between these two camps that ‘just enough’ traceability to keep a project on track, provide customer/market need context to engineers, facilitate impact analysis, and (if needed) to meet industry standards and regulations, is sufficient. Any more is excessive and wasteful and likely to bog down progress towards to delivering innovative products and systems.
During a quiet time at the IBM booth, I also had chance to chat with my colleague Brian Nolan (marketing manager for aerospace & defense industry at IBM Rational) about effective traceability, since Brian is very interested in this topic and has presented on a Dr Dobbs webcast on ‘3 Ways to Improve Traceability and Impact Analysis’. Brian believes in what I would describe as ‘traceability by design’, meaning that traceability is automatically established while you decompose your system design (for example, use case to use case realization to sequence diagram and so on). This discussion also reminded me of what another colleague Greg Gorman (program director for IBM systems and software engineering solutions and the INCOSE Corporate Advisory Board member from IBM) described several years ago as ‘link while you think’, meaning traceability is created by the tools, while you are performing requirements decomposition, design and development, rather than as an overhead activity afterwards.