Why are requirements management tools important? Well, in a perfect world:
- The stakeholders on a project would be mind-readers who automatically knew the project’s every specification and assumption
- Every project would benefit from a business analyst well-versed in domain and technical knowledge
- All clients would articulate their expectations with 100% certainty, and
- Every (mammoth) requirements document would be an absolute joy to read.
But we live in the real world.
Why Requirements Management Tools Are Important
In our real-world projects, we deal with far too many of those “he said, she said” situations where malformed or vague requirements end up tanking our projects and tarnishing our business relationships. In the real world, sometimes the task of requirements documentation falls to a project manager or someone with limited technical proficiency and domain knowledge. And let’s not forget that documenting requirements is simply a tedious task—no one actually wants to spend their time creating (or reading) a 100-page print-out of an Excel spreadsheet.
As project management expert Kelly Suter explained in her complete guide to gathering requirements:
“When budgets are thin, timelines are tight, and scope is creeping, requirements documentation tends to be the first deliverable to go and the last deliverable to be considered.”
Put simply, requirements management is an intensive undertaking. The good news is that there’s a wealth of tools out there to make requirements management simpler—easier to track, test, analyze, visualize, and communicate to stakeholders.
In this requirements management tool review, I explain what these tools are, what they do, and how to choose the right software toolset for your use case. I’ve included a detailed breakdown of some of the top requirements tools on the market (including their features, main pros and cons, integrations, pricing, and and overall quality score) so you can decide which tool is the best fit for your organization.
What Is RM?
Requirements management tools (also called resource management tools or resource management software) are any tools that help you remove ambiguity—assumptions, wishful thinking, gray area, interpretations—from a project’s requirements. As such, the end goal of requirements management (RM) is to operate with clear, realistic, and agreed-upon requirements. You use these throughout the development process so you can easily test a product or project to ensure it does what it’s supposed to do.
What Are Requirements Management Tools?
The requirements management tools that you require will be different depending on your project methodology and goals. Likewise, your approach to requirements themselves will vary depending on methodology. For example, some teams use another word for requirements such as “user stories”, “product requirements”, or simply, “features”.
Basic Requirements Tools
For a very basic requirements management planning, you might simply use a spreadsheet or a word document template to fill in your requirements documentation. Excel or Google Sheets and a word document are your most basic requirements tools, and for some cases, they work just fine. However, they can become problematic. In this case, you rely heavily on individuals to update the documents, and it takes time and effort to ensure you’re working with the most recent version across teams. Managing feedback in a central place becomes a challenge as well. Often, you have to manage strings of emails and in-person feedback that must be inputted manually into your documentation.
Complex Requirements Tools
In more complex requirement management planning, your tool might be an entire software system for managing the relationships between requirements, analyzing the impact of any changes, managing approvals, and more. Jira is the most well-known tool in the market. Like most SW development tools, it offers some requirements management functionality, but Jira requirements management is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In this review, we look at some other tools specifically designed for requirements management that go beyond what’s offered in most software development tools.
For more on the requirements management process, see our Complete Guide to Requirements Gathering.
Requirements Management Tools Selection Criteria
Whatever you use, there are some main functions that any requirements tool has to fulfill. It has to:
- Serve as a point of reference to document a project’s requirements and implementation
- Serve as a blueprint to help stakeholders understand what to expect out of the project
By and large, there’s a huge range of features offered in requirements management tools, including modules for product management, portfolio management, release management, customer management, and so much more. Here, I focus on the core functionality that any resource management software has to offer in order to serve its main purpose. Therefore, I’ve looked at tools that specifically help you gather, document, and manage requirements.
Specifically, here’s the selection criteria I’ve used in reviewing the best requirements management tools on the market:
This includes the ability to define requirements, model relationships between them, reuse requirements, and export/import requirements data for creating requirements documentation.
This includes graphical tools and reports, interactive flows and simulations, dashboards, storyboards, and functionality for graphical models like UML or SysML models. In addition, a good resource management tool has to have some form of visual modelling. This helps users both gain a clearer understanding of processes and rules and communicate these to other stakeholders.
Traceability And Real-Time Impact Analysis
Ultimately, being able to establish automatic relationships across requirements is key in requirements management. This is one of the major advantages of using resource management software over a simple spreadsheet. Traceable requirements and impact analysis include the ability to run test cases. In effect, this allows you to mitigate risks when requirements, people, decisions, and timelines inevitably shift during the course of a project.
A good requirements software should include functionality for interaction between users. This includes the ability to review, approve, provide electronic signatures, gather input, and receive notification of other users’ activity within the software.
Integrations With Other Tools
The basic integrations you should look for are integrations with software development tools (SW development tools) word document, and spreadsheet tools. All tools should provide easy export/import of data to Excel as well as export of reports and software requirements documents to Word. Additionaly, many resource management tools come with a pre-built two-way sync with Jira.
The Digital Project Manager is reader-supported. When you click through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
The Best Resource Management Software List
These are the top Resource Management tools that I included in this software review—find a summary chart and detailed description of each below.
- Rational Doors – https://www.ibm.com/us-en/marketplace/rational-doors/
- Caliber – https://www.microfocus.com/products/requirements-management/caliber/
- Jama Software – https://www.jamasoftware.com/solutions/requirements-management/
- Pearls – https://pearls-inc.com/
- ReqSuite – https://www.osseno.com/en/requirements-management-tool/
- Accompa – https://web.accompa.com/
- Modern Requirements – https://www.modernrequirements.com/
- Orcanos – https://www.orcanos.com/compliance/products/requirements-management/
- Perforce Helix RM – https://www.perforce.com/products/helix-requirements-management/
- ReQtest – https://reqtest.com/
The Best Requirements Management Tools
Here are a few of the best requirements management tools available today. Read on to understand what they offer, how they’re different from the other tools, and what types of organizations and projects they’re best suited for.
1. Rational Doors – https://www.ibm.com/us-en/marketplace/rational-doors
Rational Doors is a big hitter in the requirements management software game, with a comprehensive group of resource management software and companion products. The main differential feature of Rational Door is its interoperability with other tools, including lifecycle management, team collaboration, and systems/software engineering (including MagicDraw, which makes it easy to convert spreadsheets into models that human brains can understand). As part of the IBM ecosystem, it integrates with Jazz-based products and hosted Jazz solutions as well.
All in all, Rational Doors offers a flexible solution that works well for large-scale enterprises, offering a high degree of granularity and configurability. That said, Rational Doors’ greatest strength is also its biggest drawback—it’s highly customizable, but at the same time, its large database and general complexity can make configuration management a bit cumbersome. It’s not the easiest tool for everyone in your organization to use, although they do help you solve this potential issue by offering plenty of support: on-demand webinars, responsive support, how to’s, etc.
Rational Doors costs from $164/month as a SaaS.
Summary of Rational Doors:
- Requirements management: Pass
- Requirements visualization: Pass
- Traceability and real-time impact analysis: Pass
- Collaboration and review: Pass
- Integration with other tools: Pass (within IBM/Jazz ecosystem)
Made by Micro Focus, Caliber (formerly Borland Caliber) is a requirements management tool with some great visual features for modeling requirements. In addition to traceable requirements and impact analysis tools, Caliber offers storyboards and simulations that allow you to test rules/processes to make sure they’re complete.