I'm not really sure when requirements management as a formally recognized discipline can be said to have come into being, but I do believe that it really started to take shape in the early 90's, primarily based on work coming out of the aerospace industry, and that's when commercial specialized tools for requirements management, such as IBM Rational DOORS (then known simply as DOORS from a company called QSS), first emerged. In 2005, I was leading a team working on a campaign to promote the value of requirements management to a wider audience than a core set of requirements specialists. We declared 2005 as the 'Year of Requirements Management' because of its increased recognition as a discipline and the emergence of greater tool capabilities for making requirements more easily accessible to a wider set of stakeholders.
So as we move towards 2013, is requirements management still as relevant? Do we still have further to go on becoming more effective at it? In a recent Aberdeen Group report ‘Managing Systems Design Complexity: 3 Tips to Save Time’ by Michelle Boucher, where a survey of the effectiveness of systems engineering capabilities of system and product development organizations is reported, two of the three key recommendations made are directly related to requirements management in the areas of visual requirements definition and requirements traceability. In the other recommendation on improving change management across engineering disciplines, Michelle says that impact analysis is core to such improvement and that’s enabled by requirements management and traceability. From the Aberdeen study, a clear link can be shown between more effective requirements management and traceability to business benefits such as reduced cycle times, improved quality and increased product revenues. I also recently heard from another analyst that one of the key challenges they are hearing from product development organizations is getting a better handle on interrelationships between requirements across engineering disciplines, so they can respond more effectively to changes.
So my answer to the question I posed of is requirements management still relevant is a resounding YES! We’ve made significant progress but complexity of the systems we build has also increased and we need to keep pace with changes in practices and technologies, so I expect effective requirements management to remain a cornerstone of successful product development and for practices and supporting tooling to continue to evolve.
But what you do think? Will requirements management be as important in the future? How will it/should it change?