How do you know your system has been designed, developed and tested thoroughly? One way to achieve this is to produce a Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) that shows how each system requirement has been designed, implemented and tested. This technique is a mandatory element of safety critical and high integrity software development and provides clear evidence for developers, safety auditors and customers that every requirement has been completely implemented. This post introduces a tool that can be used to automate the production of a traceability matrix such that this technique can be applied in a cost-effective manner to any project.
Producing a Traceability Matrix for a set of detailed documents is often tedious, laborious, error prone and time consuming. We have developed a tool (DocTrace) that offers a simple and easy approach to tracing the relations between documents and their detailed contents to automatically produce a Traceability Matrix. All that is needed are Trace markers that are added to the document(s) to identify the origin of each requirement to be traced throughout a set of other documents. Reference markers are added to other documents to indicate where the requirements associated with the Trace marker are actually implemented. Once this has been done DocTrace automates the production of the RTM which shows the traceability or coverage of requirements throughout the set of documents. A typical set of documents might be requirement specifications, design specifications, program source code, test specifications and test reports. The markers in the documents can be either visible or hidden to avoid violating local documentation standards
DocTrace also identifies inconsistencies or errors that may occur during processing: such as missing references in design, test or code documents to requirements, combinations of document and trace markers that are repeated and trace markers that don’t have design, code or test cross-references. This can save enormous amounts of development time by automatically defining the work that still needs to be done to complete the documentation consistently.
DocTrace is designed to work with documents produced with Microsoft Office packages Word, Visio and Excel. It can be configured to match local document conventions, easily adapted to work with other types of document and integrated with Version Management and Document Management Systems. In summary Requirements Traceability significantly enhances the quality of software which is why its use is mandated in safety critical and high integrity software development. The use of an automated tool such as DocTrace offers simple, practical, productive and efficient solution for achieving document traceability so you can get the benefit on any project without adding a significant cost overhead.