How-does-traceability-improve

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28 Jul, 2020


Within software engineering teams, monitoring of developmental progress and proving compliance with the quality standards can be achieved through effective traceability and accounting. This sounds ideal in theory but is actually quite challenging and complicated when it comes to the application. This is because the components and elements of the system undergo constant change, and the development process of the application system is carried out in multiple places with the collaboration of various stakeholders. 

With the traceability feature in the test case management solution, the project’s teams can also gauge which test case and requirement spawned the highest number of bugs and issues during the development and testing procedure.

Even though traceability and accountability in software development and testing teams have been a concern for a while, organizations are still struggling with the collaborative aspects of these factors. The role of test case management tools in the successful and practical implementation of traceability and accountability measures in the development lifecycle is pivotal.

The Increasing Need for Traceability and Accountability

Over the past few decades, traceability and accountability have emerged as the two most pertinent factors for addressing the concerns of software application failures. From the perspective of the software development cycle, it is argued that with greater accountability of the team members, the ‘leaky pipes’ of inefficiencies and unproductivity in the development and testing teams would be fixed. The field of transparency and traceability is especially important in the customer-led and multi-stakeholder world of the software development industry.

In a nutshell, traceability helps the project managers to identify the prerequisites and the requirements which have been incorporated in the system. It enables them to trace back the interconnected path of dependencies, starting from the initial tasks or requests through the entire modeled solution and up to the actual deployed system. Accountability, on the other hand, provides more visibility to the managers so that they are able to identify bottlenecks in the system and see how they can be improved. Given the thorough and meticulous approach of the traceability and accountability framework, all functional and non-functional requirements of the system are satisfied. Creating a requirement traceability matrix ascertains that there are minimal defects in the application and that it is tested within the stipulated timeline. The extensive use of accountability and traceability in the development lifecycle usually denotes that the scope of the project is well-determined, the execution of the project is adequately aligned with customer needs and requirements, and most importantly, the cost of the project is kept in check.

Key Challenges in the Existing Management Systems

For many teams, the management of defects in the system, test cases, and project requirements are done manually in spreadsheets. Considering the rapid growth of the project sizes and complexity of the scope, managing tasks and requirements manually through excel sheets or word documents is no longer viable. Not only does it obscure the productivity and efficiency of the teams, but manual spreadsheets and management systems also have certain substantial limitations when it comes to traceability and accountability. In simpler terms, the lack of transparency and accountability in the projects might have an adverse effect on the performance of the application as well. This is largely because the lack of accountability often translates into the lack of ownership of work which can lead to inefficiencies. A robust test case management tool is indispensable in such scenarios as it provides end to end traceability that is required by the project teams to track the testing efforts across the board. The traceability matrix allows multiple stakeholders in the system to gain the same understanding of the problem by following the interconnected path of dependencies and understand the difference of relationships between produced artifacts during the development process. 

Test Case Management Solutions for Traceability and Accountability

One of the most pertinent pain points which lead organizations to seek effective test case management tools is the rapidly increasing pressure to reduce the time to market without making a compromise on quality. A good test case management solution enables and empowers the software developers and testers to address all necessary concerns and issues which are required to make the testing process faster, cost-effective, and more effective. Two of the most effective aspects which are part and parcel of test case management, and which allows the project teams to improve testing processes are traceability and increased accountability of the team members. 

Additionally, with test case management software at their disposal, the project teams also have access to two-way traceability reports which makes it easier for them to assess appropriate test coverage and allows them to track the right metric for quality, as the path of inter-dependent tasks becomes clearly visible. Consequently, the project managers are armed with the resources and abilities to keep a close eye on the progress of activities and issues, and to detect any vulnerabilities and potential bottlenecks in the system. The significance of these tools increases substantially for companies that have multiple teams working from diverse locations and various stakeholders that are globally distributed. Test case management gives the project managers the visibility for all the executive team, and they can effectively monitor the entire testing process to make sure that everyone has the same understanding of the issues.

Moreover, by allowing all developers, managers, and testers to access the database and testing assets in a shared and connected space, a collaborative culture is fostered. This, in turn, increased visibility and traceability for product and project managers into the release cycles.

Conclusion

The impact of traceability and accountability on the overall performance of the application is significant, largely because it creates a link between user requirements and needs to the application system which is being developed. Effective integration of traceability and test case management solutions ensures that a high-level document is produced to map and trace customer requirements along with the test cases so that all goals and objectives of the testing are eventually achieved. Incorporating a traceability model in test case management means that companies are able to attain maximum test coverage and that there are adequate checks on the coverage aspects of the application. These metrics make it easier for managers to take a snapshot of the testing at any point to detect any coverage gaps in the system at the initial phases of the development cycle. 

About the author

Sania Amir is a content writer at Kualitatem who spends her days researching and writing technical blogs. When she’s not furiously typing on the keyboard, Sania is either binge-watching shows or reading books!

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