Reusing/Managing Requirements Across Multiple Projects

Subject: Reusing/Managing Requirements Across Multiple Projects
From: stuart conner <work -at- stuartconner -dot- me -dot- uk>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 10 May 2010 16:37:51 +0100

For the past couple of years I?ve been developing, populating and maintaining a set of very detailed requirements
covering the functionality and user interface for some electronic equipment. Different models of this equipment
exist, with loads of different combinations of features, and loads of variations/customisations within the same
feature. So some requirements are ?tagged? for just one model, others for several models, and others for all
models. For each model, reuse of the ?generic? feature set varies between about 50 ? 95%. I currently have over
23,000 requirements and 15 projects.

I started out using Requisite Pro, then moved to Excel. Now don?t laugh ? under very controlled conditions Excel
has been incredibly successful. I have a spreadsheet with requirements running up/down and attributes running
left/right. With its control over font formatting and zoom level, styles, conditional colour formatting, multiple
windows, and VBA for writing reporting tools and other utilities, it is extremely good. I can very easily add,
maintain and report on requirements, and it lets me see ?at a glance? on screen how requirements are used across
projects. It is not so good however in supporting many concurrent users and tracking changes to individual
requirements over time.

Now, some areas of management are getting a bit jumpity about the requirements being held in ?just a spreadsheet?,
and there is some pressure to move to a ?proper? requirements management tool ? some are in use in other areas of
the company. Having looked at several though, particularly Doors and Top Team, they are all capable of storing the
data itself, but they all seem to fall over in terms of the display of the data ? they are not sufficiently
flexible to be able to squash columns up, conditionally colour format the data and so on to show you clearly
the ?big picture?. They are fine for working on requirements filtered for one particular model, but I?m in a
situation where I can?t edit a requirement for a model without seeing if the requirement is also used by other
models for which the requirement as it stands might be correct, and I can?t add a requirement for a model without
seeing if the requirement needed already exists for another model and I can re-use it. Having to work through 15
filtered views (one per model) for everything I do just won?t be productive.

Is anyone else doing similar work and have a solution? I?m sure I can?t be the only person ever to try to do this!

Stuart Conner
Southampton, UK

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