Importance of Traceability and how to maintain it

Proportion
Categories: Business

What is Traceability?

In the software domain, traceability can be defined as tracing back an entity’s origin like a requirement/ piece of code/ documentation/ test case, etc.

In simple terms, traceability can be defined as the capability to trace entities (e.g., requirements, design, epics, stories, tasks, bugs, test cases, etc.) across the development lifecycle. Traceability enables tracking the status of an entity or entire project/ product and helps you report what’s going on in the project at any point in time.

Traceability is used and maintained across industries and is critical in defense, healthcare, aerospace, software, etc.

In many countries, the government makes it mandatory to maintain traceability. Thus, it also becomes an important part of compliance and regulations.

Importance of Traceability in a project

Traceability in software engineering describes the extent to which an entity can be traced back to its point of origin. The goal of traceability is to provide better quality and consistency of product or project development. It brings the ability to verify the history, location, and application of an artifact.

Let’s look at the following scenarios to get a better idea of the importance of traceability:

  1. Your client made a change request which must be accommodated in the upcoming release: In such a case, you need to identify how this change will impact the dependent epics/ stories/ tasks/ etc. Will this change have any impact on the design? Will it have any impact on your release timeline?
  2. A bug discovered in the last testing round: While executing a particular test case, your testing team discovered a bug in the final testing round, and your release is scheduled at the end of the current week. How would you determine
    1. Which functionalities can be impacted by this bug?
    2. What is the extent of the impact of this bug? Can you continue with the current release schedule and fix this bug later if the impact is trivial?

Numerous scenarios like these can be faced by your teams daily. You need to have a strong Traceability solution that can help you make impact analysis and quick decision-making.

How to maintain Traceability?

One of the basic or rudimentary approaches to maintaining traceability is using spreadsheets or documents. Using this approach, you can manually create documents corresponding to all the relevant entities and their association. However, with this approach, it’s not possible to have real-time traceability or impact analysis. Moreover, it requires a lot of manual overhead and is susceptible to manual errors.

Using tools like Jira and Confluence to manage your projects, establishing traceability can be really easy if done correctly. To maintain traceability in such case, you can follow the below-mentioned steps:

  1. Basic issue-specific traceability: To maintain the basic issue-level traceability, you can link an issue (epic/ task/ story/ etc.) with other issues using the default linking capability of Jira. Any documents/ designs can be stored in Confluence documents and then linked to your Jira issue. Now, if at any point in time, you want to see how this particular issue can impact any other related entities, you can open the issue page in Jira, and you will be able to identify all the entities which are linked to this issue.
  2. End-to-end project-level Traceability: If you want to establish and see end-to-end traceability for a particular release/ sprint or an entire project, Jira can not provide you such a solution by default. In this case, you can use a marketplace application/ addon. Multiple marketplace applications are excellent and can help you maintain real-time end-to-end traceability. Such tools can help you maintain traceability in hierarchical/ tabular/ other forms and also help you generate detailed reports. If properly maintained, traceability can help you accelerate, better quality, and consistent product/ project development and help you achieve various legal/ regulatory compliance. Thus, it is recommended to invest time and resources to establish strong traceability from the beginning of your project and invest in using the appropriate tools and processes. If you have any questions or need assistance with establishing and maintaining traceability in your project, please reach out to us. At Padah Solutions, we have a team of experts who can help you with the right solution catering to the needs of your project and team.

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