Requirements traceability has to be one of the toughest challenges of project management. The sheer amount of information can be overwhelming: What is each component's status? Has it undergone all its assigned tests? How did it perform against the required specifications? Are those requirements linked to other components?
It's all very hard to visualize and manage without devouring hours of time to get your head around the details.
Amdocs wrestled with this problem. "A lot of functionality was not being tested," says Erez Marcovich, a functional architect who is responsible for Amdocs’ requirements traceability. If teams can't easily see the linkages between requirements and tests, new releases could slip through without being fully tested. In those cases, the only way to know something went wrong would be when customers complain.
Their goal was to find a platform that easily linked the development requirements to the actual testing. With a clear, big-picture view, teams can understand their progress and work more efficiently. To create that system, Marcovich and Amdocs teamed up with Methoda, an Atlassian Solution partner with expertise in requirements traceability solutions.
Methoda suggests a blend of Atlassian ecosystem tools to allow for a single unified requirements traceability platform within Jira — it's a way to stay Agile while maintaining traceability, from requirements gathering to actual deployment.
In this particular recipe, Structure for Jira provides the basis for easy visualization. While Jira's hierarchy stops at epics, Structure allows for more flexibility — you can build up as many levels as you like. So, for example, Methoda suggests a level above epic called "requirements," which can include its own metadata and display the aggregation of data from child issues in the hierarchy. Those requirements can be grouped under the highest level, called a "delivery."
Under the delivery level, users can see the requirements plus the status of all the requirement's children. Collectively, those indicate the status of the delivery. Structure columns are used to visualize a host of useful metadata: Progress bars to sum everything up, plus total tests, execution rate, pass rate, etc. — and these can be configured to show whatever is most useful to the customer.
Click into the requirement level, and your view drills into the specifics of that requirement. A column for "Requirement Status" then "Development Status," “Test Execution Defects," and other essential information.
"The goal of this is to have a configurable view to present the actual, real status of a requirement, which takes into consideration the development, the flow and the test in one simple visual presentation. Structure enables us to do that pretty easily," says Yaniv Shoshani (he's @yaniv_shoshani here in the community), CEO of Methoda.
Meanwhile, the app XRay adds test management capability to Jira. Using tests and test executions linked to requirements, plus epics or user stories that are viewable in structures, the entire data flow allows users to maintain traceability and have a better understanding of the exact progress of each item.
Lastly, Methoda suggests Structure.Gantt to visualize all of the product lifecycle on a simple timeline, where one can easily view dependencies and schedule risks.
Erez and his team retooled the Methoda-suggested hierarchy to suit the Amdocs workflows.
Here's what they came up with:
With the Structure Automation feature, they automatically pull real-time information from the lower levels to show the status of all requirements on the Epic, Feature, Project, or Initiative levels.
Amdocs also configured its visualization to include columns describing intermediate progress (again, using information from lower levels on the hierarchy), effective estimation, and actual estimation.
As Methoda suggests, Amdocs also uses an XRay extender to provide additional information in their hierarchies — primarily useful to the testing manager and release manager — to provide a broader view of progress from a number of angles. For example, the below is a view of testing coverage and execution, where you can drill down to each story's test execution and see at a glance the status of each test. You can instantly see which story is in "Not OK" status because half its tests were failing.
Amdocs instituted its new system amid some skepticism from veteran testers at the company, "But in a very short while, they embraced it," said Marcovich. "Now, no one wants to go back. They love this platform."
With so many details to track in large-scale requirements traceability efforts, the right mix of automation and clear visualization is essential. You need a single source of truth — your Jira platform, in other words — that can also be configured to show the views that are most valuable to different types of users. Without a strong foundation, you'll either waste hours trying to keep track of everything or see functionality go untested.
You can also head over to the Atlassian Marketplace to learn more about the apps mentioned in this story.
Dave Rosenlund _ALM Works_Community Leader
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