ArgonDigital Requirements Management Tool Evaluation – Part 1

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9/22/11 IMPORTANT NOTE AND UPDATE: We have updated the criteria and tool scores — please go to this post for the most current material. Also, there is a known issue for Excel 2003 users that is fixed in the update – click here for the updated material that addresses this issue.

We have decided to do a requirements management tool research study, much like we did back in 2007.  One of the main reasons for doing this is that we have found the tool landscape has changed dramatically in the last 4 years, with many new vendors showing up as strong contenders in this space. In addition, beyond looking for the best tools for ArgonDigital to use, we actually want to understand how the tools compare against one another in general, beyond just our needs.

With this year’s study, we are making some changes to the process this time around, and our new research approach is:

  1. Compile a complete list of possible requirements tools
  2. Compile a list of prioritized features for a tool, or “criteria”
  3. Filter that tool list down to ones that look like they could be considered requirements management tools (as compared to requirements definition tools, prototyping tools, or agile tools)
  4. Evaluate all of the requirements management tools against the first pass criteria (31 items from the full list)
  5. Evaluate the top 15-20 tools from the first pass evaluation against the full criteria list (200 items)
  6. Have the top 15-20 vendors self-evaluate their tools against our criteria, looking for any discrepancies
  7. Publish the results for the industry to review

We are currently in this first phase at step 5 and 6 simultaneously and hope to have the results soon. But before waiting any further, I want to share the criteria and the original tool list with a larger audience, so you can find it on our templates page at Requirements Management Tool Evaluation for Business Analysts. I am certainly interested in any feedback if you find criteria you think are missing or miss-prioritized, as well as any additional tools you think we should be considering but are not. As you look at this list, you may see some that you think shouldn’t be on it, but at this point, we are using a broad sweeping net instead of limiting the list, and we’ll let the criteria limit for us. Also in this file you can find the top tools that have been selected for full evaluation based on the scores from the first pass evaluation.

I also want to point out that some of our ideas for criteria and tools came from the INCOSE survey, which is also useful, though we find it less useful in that the vendors complete their own evaluation, which could introduce some bias or differences in interpretation of the criteria across tools. So we are really just hoping to build upon this original set of information to provide even more useful tool selection information for business analysts.

Later in the year, we hope to take the few tools and implement them on actual projects, so we can get our hands dirty in them to see if they hold up to the evaluation we did. Ultimately we will select a new tool to use at ArgonDigital, but beyond that, we are really looking to help the business analyst community have more information when they go to select a requirements management tool.

If you are interested in perusing the evaluation worksheet we are using, you can download Requirements Management Tool Evaluation for Business Analysts. The first tab is a set of use cases primarily organized with business analysts as the main actor, but there are a few use cases for managers, developers, and the business. These are prioritized on a scale of 1 to 3, where 3 is high. Those use cases helped us refine our criteria list, which is on the second tab of the worksheet. You can see each criteria is linked to a use case and further prioritized at the feature level. A third tab shows you the complete tool list we started with and how we categorized them initially. Our next level of detail will be to post the evaluation scores, where we evaluate our top tools from the list against the entire criteria list.

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