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Requirements Traceability Benchmark: How Traceability is Measured

Nov. 2, 2023
In this Requirements Traceability Benchmark, which is a core systems engineering framework, we examine how traceability is measured, and the business practices that separate top-quartile performers from the rest.

Requirements traceability is a key aspect of requirements management software that has been around for decades, has been deployed by thousands of companies, and is required by most industry standards for complex product development. The cost of failing to identify requirements-related issues early in the lifecycle through traceability has been well researched, with INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering) and AVSI (Aerospace Vehicle Systems Institute) finding that late issue identification results in 16 to 100 times the cost.

Since requirements define both product and service value and outcome, they are the only common language that ties together siloed business units (product development, marketing, development, legal, compliance, primary business unit, etc.) and the best way to track systems development progress and risks. Given how critical the product and services development process is for companies in today’s world, one would think that measuring requirement traceability would be a top priority for management teams to reduce the risk of delays, cost overruns, defects, rework, audits, recalls, and failures. And yet, no one has ever measured traceability.

The fundamental challenge to measuring traceability has been legacy tools that trap traceable information in siloes, preventing the measurement of traceability and the deployment of Live Traceability best practices across the lifecycle. This report is the first measurement of traceability.

Jama Software is the first to measure traceability thanks to our client’s participation in a benchmarking dataset of over 40,000 complex product and services development projects spanning Financial Services, Insurance, Healthcare, Telecom, Government, and more. All of this is made possible by our core product, Jama Connect, which enables the largest community of end users using requirements management SaaS (Software as a Service) in the world.

To formally measure traceability, we have established the Traceability Score. The Traceability Score measures the level of actual process adherence to the expected traceability model and can be used to compare performance across projects, teams, divisions, and companies. This score can also determine impacts on schedule, budget, cycle times, risk, and quality.    

In this Requirements Traceability Benchmark, we examine how traceability is measured, and the business practices that separate top-quartile performers from the rest, including:

  • Focus on Live Traceability, not after-the-fact traceability
  • Integrate traceable data across best-of-breed tools
  • Make the Systems Engineering function data-centric
  • Use model-based requirements to shorten and improve discovery
  • Manage by exception