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What is Requirement Traceability Matrix and why the testers should use it

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Binu Babu,QA Engineer

In the emerging agile development world, the project requirement plays a key role throughout the entire development process. So it is essential for the companies to manage the evolving requirements to ensure efficiency, completeness and overall quality. Requirement Traceability Matrix will help us to achieve this goal.

 

What is RTM all about?

A Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a simple and powerful tool that allows to trace and map the relationship between two baseline documents. This includes one with the requirement specifications [requirement ids] and another one with the test cases [test case ids]. This stand-alone document is prepared to make sure that the client gets the product in a way that she needs. 


In RTM, the relationship between requirements and test case can be one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-one. And it is considered to be bi-directional. i.e. it tracks the requirement “forward” by examining the output of the deliverables and “backward” by observing at the business requirements that was specified for a particular feature of the product.

 

Types of Traceability Matrix

Forward Traceability -  Requirements are mapped with test cases. i.e. from requirements, one should be able to identify the test cases.


Backward Traceability [Reverse Traceability] - Test cases are mapped with requirements. i.e. one should be able to trace the requirement by looking at the test cases.


Bi-directional Traceability - It has both forward and backward traceability approach. i.e the test cases are mapped to the requirements and the requirements are mapped to test cases as well. This reverse matrix will help in ensuring that all types of requirements are covered by the test-cases. Below is a sample RTM in a spreadsheet.

The basic RTM consists of  Req Ids and Test Case Ids. You can customize the columns as you need and make it more effective. It usually includes columns such as requirement, baseline reference number, bug ID and test case. The way of documentation varies from company to company but few basic things will be universal.


Assume that, Test case “TC01” is one of the user scenarios. In this case, Requirements SR01, SR04 and SR05 are covered. So it is marked as “x”.  Now it is easy to identify which all test cases need to be updated if there occurs any change request.

 

How is it useful in testing?

It can serve many purposes over the course of a testing process. Initially, it can be used as a test planning tool to determine how many tests are required, what types of tests are required, whether tests can be automation or manual, and if any existing tests can be reused. Later, it helps the Quality Analyst to capture all the requirements in the test cases. In this way, RTM helps in ensuring that the resulting tests are effective and 100% tested.

 

Why do you need RTM?

It is highly recommended to use the traceability matrix at the very beginning of a project, as it helps in minimizing the loopholes and errors that may occur during the product development.


And it also helps companies to make sure that all their products meet the quality standards. So, the traceability matrices play a key factor in delivering the best quality product for the clients.