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) requirement 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. Sometimes the task of requirements documentation falls to a project manager or someone with limited technical proficiency and domain knowledge—they have to cost out a software development project, for example, but they don’t have a ton of experience actually developing software.
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 printout of an Excel spreadsheet. Even something as seemingly simple as planning requirements for an online store with no physical inventory can become very complicated.
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 overall quality score) so you can decide which tool is the best fit for your organization.
What Is RM?
The end goal of requirements management (RM) is to operate with clear, realistic, and agreed-upon requirements. Requirements management tools are any tools that help you remove ambiguity from this process—assumptions, wishful thinking, gray areas, interpretations—from a project’s 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 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, from Atlassian, 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.
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 requirements 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. Here are 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 requirements management tool has to have some form of visual modeling. 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 requirements 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 through change management processes when requirements, people, decisions, and timelines inevitably shift during the course of a project.
A good requirements management solution should include functionality for interaction between users, as well as some basic task management functionalities to allow for collaboration on tasks. This includes the ability to review, approve, provide electronic signatures, gather input, and receive notifications about 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), document tools, and spreadsheet tools. All tools should provide easy export/import of data to Excel as well as the export of reports and software requirements documents to Word.
Additionally, many requirements management tools come with pre-built two-way sync with Jira.
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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.
Jama Software provides a platform for requirements, risk, and test management. Teams building complex products, systems, and software use Jama Connect to improve cycle times, increase quality, reduce rework, and minimize effort proving compliance.
This enterprise-grade tool offers the ability to accurately capture and communicate requirements, goals, progress, and interdependencies throughout the development process. It enables you to align hardware, firmware, and software development stakeholders; improve efficiency; manage change; and prove compliance.
In Jama Connect’s features, you’ll find end-to-end live traceability of people, data, and processes, as well as real-time impact analysis, reviews, and approvals with team collaboration. For requirements gathering, you can define, organize, and execute requirements-based test plans and test cases to ensure quality and compliance.
All of these features are packed into a software that provides the flexibility to support various engineering disciplines and development methodologies. Pair that with an intuitive, browser-based interface, and you’ve got a comprehensive software that’s still easy to navigate.
You can integrate Jama Connect requirements and test plans with ALM, PLM, QA, and MBSE to ensure full traceability, visibility, and collaboration across the lifecycle.
With API integrations and third-party integration hubs, teams can work in familiar tools while contributing to projects in Jama Connect. Jama Connect licenses are available on a user and floating basis through an annual subscription model.
Pricing and trial information are available upon request.
Modern Requirements offers a 4DevOps tool as a single-application solution for everything requirements management. The easy to use tools are built directly into Microsoft’s Azure DevOps, and allow you to create, automate, manage, analyze, and report requirements straight from your Azure DevOps project.
Modern Requirements4DevOps eliminates duplicate work, creates requirements reusability, and connects your requirements directly to your assets. You can build living requirements documents, diagrams, mockups, use case models, and other assets that are updated automatically as requirements change.
The tool also includes a built-in approval process (with e-signatures), easy to create baselines, and always up-to-date trace matrices. This solution allow teams to connect requirements to both development tasks and quality assurance testing for full traceability throughout the project lifecycle.
Built directly into Microsoft’s Azure DevOps, Modern Requirements provides a simple to use interface with the options to toggle off any features that might not be used by a given user. Modern Requirements also has a free guided bootcamp to help walk users through each of the offered tools, as well as professional training and support services at the implementation phase.
Modern Requirements is fully embedded with Microsoft’s Azure DevOps and provides your team with the opportunity to turn your new and existing projects into a single source of truth. They also offer full integrations through their Sync Bridge with all of the common tools.
Licenses are available on a User and Floating basis, and can be purchased as a perpetual license or through a subscription model.
Pricing information available upon request. Free 30-day trial available.
Wrike is an award-winning requirements management software trusted by over 2.3 million customers worldwide and is suitable for any size team. Wrike is a requirements management tool that creates a single source of truth for all project stakeholders. Create tasks and share them with relevant parties so everyone is able to see the agreed-upon project requirements. From workflows to dashboards, reports to request forms, you can customize each element to suit your needs.
Wrike is one of the most customizable and configurable requirements management tools on the market, allowing teams and individuals to arrange their dashboard and task list to suit their working style and offering powerful automation that cuts down on unnecessary repetitive admin. Wrike also features customizable reports that allow tracking, testing, and analysis of results that can easily be shared with stakeholders.
With a simple user interface, Wrike helps all stakeholders understand the project’s priorities, quickly see what tasks are outstanding, and make comments in real-time. Wrike has helped teams completely eliminate email and cut down on time wasted switching between apps. While Wrike is very user-friendly, if you get stuck, you can avail of the dedicated help center with interactive training, videos, a ‘getting started’ guide, and a thriving community.
Wrike has over 400 integrations that include the most popular software from Microsoft, Slack, Google, and Dropbox, making it simple to connect any files you need to your Wrike requirements tasks.
Start free with Wrike, no matter how big your team is. Or, try a free 14-day trial of Wrike’s more advanced features and customization. Paid plans start at $9.80/user/month.
Visure is an easy-to-use RM platform often used in systems engineering projects. Distributed stakeholders can collaborate on simple or complex requirements in a flexible platform. Visure supports a wide variety of project types and methodologies including agile, waterfall, and V model.
Key features of the platform include: end-to-end traceability from conception to testing and deployment, all the way to source code like Java, C, C++; graphical representation of your workflow (data model) to enforce and protect a full traceability; one-click impact analysis and test management; and AI-driven quality analysis to automatically check the quality of your requirements.
Visure uses natural language processing to apply the best tactics. You can create reusable components, requirements, and test cases to use across teams and projects. You can leverage full Word and Excel integration to easily elicit requirements from non-Visure users. They provide ready-to-use templates tailored to different industry standards such as ISO 26262, IEC 62304, IEC 61508, CENELEC 50128, DO-178B/C, FMEA, SPICE, and CMMI.
Visure integrates with IBM DOORS, JIRA, Sparx EA, TFS, ReqIF, MATLAB, VectorCAST, and other apps.
Visure offers a 30 day free trial and competitive pricing upon request.
Xebrio is a complete requirements management ecosystem covering a project development lifecycle from requirements to releases, all under one roof. Xebrio’s requirement workflow empowers every stakeholder to actively participate during the requirement gathering process and has an approval mechanism to ensure collective consensus.
Xebrio facilitates requirements to be mapped to tasks, milestones, test cases, bugs and these requirements can be traced to releases for end-to-end traceability. Some key features of the tool include requirement approval workflow to accommodate stakeholder views; requirement version tracking; end-to-end traceability of requirements; and real-time collaboration for requirements gathering.
Xebrio also provides support for real-time communication & collaboration, time-tracking, and reporting as well. In essence, Xebrio is an entire requirements management ecosystem in-built with project management features. Xebrio gives you flexibility and visibility without compromising on simplicity, all using the same tool.
Xebrio costs from $7/user/month and offers a 30-day free trial.
ReqSuite® RM (from OSSENO Software) strikes a great balance between customizability and simplicity, providing enough features to be useful while remaining lightweight, easy to learn, and affordable.
This requirements gathering and management tool includes a well-rounded toolkit of definable templates, the ability to manage reusable requirements, workflow definition, collaboration features, and support for the automatic quality control of requirements.
The biggest selling point of ReqSuite® RM is its ease of use and ease of setup. The navigation makes sense, it’s not overloaded with complexity, and customization is very intuitive. Indeed, it doesn’t offer the capability of a “million-requirements” PLM system like IBM DOORS, but it’s a great fit for most other use cases, and especially for typical product development or procurement projects.
In terms of integrations, ReqSuite® RM synchronizes bidirectionally with several other third-party tools, including Jira, TFS/Azure DevOps, EnterpriseArchitect, GitLab, Word, and Excel — and their WebAPI lets you sync with additional systems.
ReqSuite® RM costs from about 60€ per user per month. The smallest license package includes 5 users.
Doc Sheets is a platform designed to provide intuitive and affordable enterprise requirements management for teams and companies of all sizes. Doc Sheets is quick and easy to set up while also being a high-performance, scalable, and secure solution for change management, project management, test case management, and workflow features.
Without any coding, Doc Sheets is customizable for any project whether you get it as a cloud (SaaS) or an on-premise solution. It allows requirements creation and tracing for verification and validation of systems. It also accommodates different processes and methodology for agile, scrum, and waterfall work. Doc Sheets empowers traceability processes and provides traceability and gap analysis reports where needed.
Key features include the ability to classify and organize requirements in a robust repository; auto-generate spec docs as PDFs, HTML, or DOCX; filter and group requirements for reporting; export your data into Excel and/or Word documents; import requirements from various external sources; auto-manage versions and product releases; save product information templates for easy access later; and simplify traceability with a comprehensive toolset.
With real-time collaboration, multiple users can contribute to requirements documentation simultaneously. Direct and indirect impact-of-change reporting can cover your bases as things change, shift, and grow. Plus, access control and security make sure only the approved hands are on deck for each project or item.
Doc Sheets integrates with JIRA. It also allows importing data from various sources (JSON, Excel, etc.).
Doc Sheets costs from $19/user/month and offers a 60-day free trial.
The Orcanos requirements management tool offers some better visualization and reporting features than others. This includes real-time dashboards that are intuitive to navigate, as well as their DocGen feature for importing/exporting Word files to easily create a software requirements doc, aided by custom templates and embedded reports.
Orcanos delivers all of your essential requirements tools—end-to-end traceability, some basic collaboration features (messaging, alerts), and test management features. Additionally, users have praised Orcanos for their responsive customer support.
Overall, this is an especially good tool if you’re eventually going to require a full QMS (Quality Management System) or ALM (Application Lifecycle Management)—with this tool, it’s simply a matter of upgrading your plan to gain access to ALM or QMS features for risk assessment, quality control, customer complaint management, etc.
The only downside of this tool is its lack of pre-built integrations (it does integrate with Zapier, however). The pricing plan could also be friendlier—they do offer free 30-day trials, but their basic plan requires a minimum of 5 users (at $69/month each), so it’s not the best fit for smaller organizations.
Orcanos costs from $69/user/month.
IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Next 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 IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Next 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, IBM Engineering Requirements Management DOORS Next offers a flexible solution that works well for large-scale enterprises, offering a high degree of granularity and configurability.
That said, IBM Engineering Requirements Management 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.
DOORS Next costs from $164/month as a SaaS.
Accompa stands out among the crowd, not necessarily for its features but for its overall ease of use, ease of implementation, friendly pricing/payment model, and great customer service.
That said, Accompa doesn’t have the most robust feature set out there. They add new features on a continuous basis, but if you need something comprehensive in the here and now, I’d look to big players like Jama or Rational DOORS. In most cases, however, I wouldn’t be scared off by Accompa’s lack of features.
This solution does offer a truly useful collection of essential features (or else they wouldn’t be on this list!), and these include requirements traceability, automatic change and dependency tracking for impact analysis, discussion boards and alerts for collaboration, and requirements prioritization rules. It also offers some customization, such as custom fields, views, and user roles.
Another advantage of this tool: an above-average set of pre-built integrations, including Jira, FogBugz, HP Quality Center, IBM Rational, IBM Rational ClearQuest, Bugzilla, trac, VersionOne, Rally, Agilefant, Seapine Software, SmartBear, and VisualStudio Team Foundation Server.
Accompa costs from $199/month.
The Best Requirements Management Tools Summary
The chart below provides a basic summary of the top requirements management tools included in this review. Get a snapshot of each tool’s basic pricing info, trial info, and overall quality score, and then read a detailed review of each tool below.
Other Requirements Management Tools List
I haven’t had time to fully review these, but if the software featured in this review doesn’t make the cut, here a few more good requirement gathering tools to check out:
How To Pick The Best Tool For Your Team?
All things considered, learning to use and implement a requirements management tool is an investment of time and energy. Before you dive in, you want to ensure that you’re choosing the ideal fit for your projects.
I simplify the process by providing you with some of the most important questions I think you can ask during the selection process in order to narrow down the options.
What do you need it for?
Do you need something that’s one step up from Google Docs and a spreadsheet, or are you looking for an enterprise-grade tool that can support large volumes of data and distributed teams? Do you need additional functionalities such as task management, risk management, or the ability to create mockups? Will you be using the software specifically for software testing?
More robust requirements management software includes Rational Doors, Perforce Helix RM, Orcanos, and Jama Software. Middle of the road? Look to Modern Requirements4DevOps (built for Azure DevOps) and Caliber.
Do you want to buy a license or access cloud-based software?
Most requirements documentation software offers the selection between a cloud-based service and an on-premise installation. With this in mind, however, there are several completely cloud-based tools such as Accompa, ReQtest, and Orcanos. Consider your ability to host a solution on-premise. As a result, you’ll be able to narrow down the options significantly.
How easy is it to implement and learn?
A couple of factors contribute to how easy a solution is to learn and implement. Consider:
- Cloud-based or on-premise? See above. Right off the bat, a cloud-based Saas will be quicker to implement than an on-premise solution.
- Availability of training and support? If you expect your team to require some training and ongoing support, look to requirements management tools that have received praise for their above-average training and support: Rational Doors, ReqSuite, Accompa, Orcanos, and Perforce Helix RM.
- Pre-built integrations? The tools with the largest number of pre-existing integrations (by far!) are Jama, Accompa, and Perforce Helix RM. If you’re looking to cut down on implementation with a tool that plays nicely with your existing development and business tools, those should be at the top of your list.
What Do You Think?
Which requirements management tools have you used? What are the main points you think a requirements management software solution should cover off? Share your insight with our community of digital leaders below.