What is requirements management?

Why are good engineering requirements important to software and product development? Clear, concise, error-free requirements help engineering teams detect errors early, reducing project cost and risk

person at workstation viewing large monitor

How does requirements management work?

The purpose of requirements management is to ensure product development goals are successfully met. It is a set of techniques for documenting, analyzing, prioritizing, and agreeing on requirements so that engineering teams always have current and approved requirements. Requirements management provides a way to avoid errors by keeping track of changes in requirements and fostering communication with stakeholders from the start of a project throughout the engineering lifecycle.

The importance of requirements management

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing not only the way products work, but their design and development. Products are continuously becoming more complex with more lines of code and additional software — some of which allow for even greater connectivity. With requirements management, you can overcome the complexity and interdependencies that exist in today’s engineering lifecycles to streamline product development and accelerate deployment.

Issues in requirements management are often cited as major causes of project failures. 
Having inadequately defined requirements can result in scope creep, project delays, cost overruns, and poor product quality that does not meet customer needs and safety requirements. 

Having a requirements management plan is critical to the success of a project because it enables engineering teams to control the scope and direct the product development lifecycle. Requirements management software provides the tools for you to execute that plan, helping to reduce costs, accelerate time to market and improve quality control.

Requirement management planning and process

Requirements management plan (RMP)
A requirements management plan (RMP) helps explain how you will receive, analyze, document and manage all of the requirements within a project. The plan usually covers everything from initial information gathering of the high-level project to more detailed product requirements that could be gathered throughout the lifecycle of a project. Key items to define in a requirements management plan are the project overview, requirements gathering process, roles and responsibilities, tools, and traceability.

Requirements management process
When looking for requirements management tools, there are a few key features to look for.

A typical requirements management process complements the systems engineering V model through these steps:

  • Collect initial requirements from stakeholders
  • Analyze requirements
  • Define and record requirements
  • Prioritize requirements
  • Agree on and approve requirements
  • Trace requirements to work items
  • Query stakeholders after implementation on needed changes to requirements
  • Utilize test management to verify and validate system requirements
  • Assess impact of changes
  • Revise requirements
  • Document changes

By following these steps, engineering teams are able to harness the complexity inherent in developing smart connected products. Using a requirements management solution helps to streamline the process so you can optimize your speed to market and expand your opportunities while improving quality.

Digital requirements management
Digital requirements management is a beneficial way to capture, trace, analyze and manage requirements changes. Digital management ensures changes are tracked in a secure, central location, and it allows for strengthened collaboration between team members. Increased transparency minimizes duplicate work and enhances agility while helping to ensure requirements adhere to standards and compliance.

Requirements attributes
In order to be considered a “good” requirement, a requirement should have certain characteristics, which include being:

  • Specific
  • Testable 
  • Clear and concise
  • Accurate
  • Understandable
  • Feasible and realistic
  • Necessary

Sets of requirements should also be evaluated and should be consistent and nonredundant.

Benefits of requirements management

Some of the benefits of requirements management include:

  • Lower cost of development across the lifecycle
  • Fewer defects 
  • Minimized risk for safety-critical products
  • Faster delivery
  • Reusability 
  • Traceability 
  • Requirements being tied to test cases
  • Global configuration management

Who is responsible for requirements management?

The product manager is typically responsible for curating and defining requirements. However, requirements can be generated by any stakeholder, including customers, partners, sales, support, management, engineering, operations and product team members. Constant communication is necessary to ensure the engineering team understands changing priorities.

Benefits of digital requirements management

Engineering requirements management software enables you to capture, trace, analyze and manage changes to requirements in a secure, central and accessible location. This strengthens collaboration, increases transparency and traceability, minimizes rework, and expands usability. A digital solution also enhances project agility while making it easier to adhere to standards and maintain regulation compliance.

There are several benefits to using digital requirements management:

  • Live collaboration: Work in real time, anywhere. Your team members can share information in and between documents, wherever they are located.
  • Reuse: Use the same requirement in multiple places without having to redefine it. You can create baselines to identify the state of a requirement in real time to reduce the occurrence of user errors.
  • Traceability: Maintain a full history of changes in requirements so you can respond quickly to audits. Your team can see what changed, who changed it and when it changed.
  • Consistency: Organize relevant information logically and easily in a way your team and stakeholders understand. You can sort requirements by priority, risk, status and category.

Best practices for requirements management

Your products are only as good as the requirements that drive them. For systems engineers to manage the growing complexity of connected products, they need better visibility into changes, deeper insight into data and shared tools for global collaboration.

Requirements traceability

Link individual artifacts to test cases for full visibility of changes in engineering requirements as they happen. Capture all annotations, maintain them and make them easily accessible.

Variant management

Digitally manage the entire version and variant process while monitoring the progression of the system through a shared dashboard. Store data in a central location and present it in document format.

Engineering compliance

Incorporate industry standards and regulations into your requirements to achieve compliance early on. Building compliance into the end-to-end engineering lifecycle makes achieving compliance less complex.

Agile management

Streamline engineering processes to enable global collaboration and the reality of a single source of truth. Build confidence in the teams doing the work by showing them the value of their efforts in real time.

How can AI help with requirements management?

Through the use of AI, engineering teams can more easily flag poorly written, incomplete and ambiguous requirements while receiving real-time coaching on how to improve them. Watson AI scores requirements based on quality indicators and will present suggestions that can make them more clear, consistent and complete. By adding AI to your requirements management strategy, you can strengthen the quality of your requirements while reducing errors and costs.

Related solutions

Systems Engineering Requirements Management

For systems engineers to manage the growing complexity of connected products, they need better visibility into changes, deeper insight into data and shared tools for global collaboration.

IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Next

IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Next provides a scalable solution to optimize communication and collaboration among teams and stakeholders for the verification of requirements.

IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Family

IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Family is a requirements management application for optimizing requirements communication, collaboration and verification throughout your organization and supply chain.

IBM Engineering Requirements Quality Assistant

Use the power of Watson AI to improve the quality of project requirements as you write them. Now bundled with IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS® Next SaaS version.

Requirements management resources