Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM)

Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM)

Wikipedia defines Requirements Traceability as “a sub-discipline of requirements management within software development and systems engineering. Requirements traceability is concerned with documenting the life of a requirement.” In fact, a Requirements Traceability Matrix, or RTM, is an important project management document that provides a formal way to track requirements.

But why RTM is important? What should this document cover? Find the answers in the article that follows, plus a detailed template on PMTips Requirements Traceability Matrix available for download completely FREE of charge.

The Importance of Requirements Traceability Matrix

The main purpose of RTM is to keep track of the project requirements through the Project Life-Cycle. It is also used to check the status on the ongoing requirements. In fact, this matrix document links the project requirements from their beginning to the final deliverables. The RTM document records every requirement, its source, and traces how the requirement will be delivered throughout the project.

The Requirements Traceability Matrix is important because it shows a direct line between the project objectives, and the requirements that will deliver those objectives.

The Content

The basic outline of RTM usually includes:

  • Project Scope
  • Requirements Traceability Matrix table
  • Comments

The most important part of this document is the Requirements Traceability Matrix table. It covers all information regarding requirement descriptions, goals of the requirements, what the source is, project objectives, deliverables, test scenario and condition, what tests will be used, and what’s the progress of the tests. If your project requires other aspects, you can add or delete as many rows and columns you need.


Things to Consider

A detailed utilized Requirements Traceability Matrix will ensure that every possible requirement extracted from the customer’s Request for Proposal is fulfilled. Customer requirements are obviously critical to the project and meeting those requirements is critical to project success.  Anything that can be done to ensure that requirements are in place and that the project is being developed well to those requirements not only gives the customer greatly increased confidence in the delivery team, but the final solution is much more likely to actually meet the business needs of the customer.

It will be unfortunate, if the RTM is not followed through the whole project. It is always a good idea to continue to use the document to ensure that the project is building on proper specifications. Using a matrix will help not only the Project Manager, but also to the rest of the delivery team members accurately identify and complete all customer requirements.

This type of documentation gives the customer confidence that all requirements have been accounted for and can be traced through to the solution.  It also gives the delivery team confidence that they have covered all requirements and are building a solution that will meet the customer-specified requirements and therefore provide the customer with a useable solution.


Final Thoughts

Requirements Traceability Matrix is very useful document that you should always include when preparing the complete project documentation. Not only it will provide a detailed plan of the requirements needed to complete project objectives, but it will only provide a clear view of the project specifications to the entire project team.

Download this template on RTM, and start the process right away. We crafted two documents: one in MS Word, the other one in MS Excel. You can use the version that best suits your needs.

And, if you got any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section at the end.

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PMtips' is a real-life guide for people who are interested in developing a career or are already working in the field of project management. It covers a wide range of project management topics in a very simple, yet effective language.

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PMtips' is a real-life guide for people who are interested in developing a career or are already working in the field of project management. It covers a wide range of project management topics in a very simple, yet effective language.


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