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Is Your Software Development Process Under A Curse?

Published By Brian Ashcraft
Is Your Software Development Process Under A Curse?

Traceability first requires the ability to connect SDLC artifacts. When tools are loosely stitched together, artifacts are not connected and there is no traceability. Without traceability, your software development process is likely cursed.

We all want our teams using tooling that is optimal for each lifecycle stage, but if the tooling isn’t tightly integrated to support and preserve cross-tool relationship mapping, you won’t have traceability. To expel the curse, we need all the artifacts, from the entire software development process, to be linked together and exposed to every user across the entire tool stack. At Tasktop, we call the ability to preserve relationship links between artifacts across tool sets Artifact Relationship Management (ARM). ARM is the secret potion for lifting the curse and achieving end-to-end, cross-tool traceability.

When planning iterations, initial feature requirements may be in a requirements management tool. The features are broken down into stories and ported to a project management tool. The verification is done in a test suite, while defects come from multiple sources. As a feature moves through its lifecycle, it inherits important relationships along the way. Artifacts tied to the latter stages should also be traced back to the requirements. Many tools allow for these relationships to exist, but organizations have been forced to live with the notion that these relationships do not persist well across tools, leading to a breakdown in traceability. Enabling these relationships to be preserved, as they are referenced by and collaborated on by different users across the tool stack, requires a specialized integration layer to make happen.

Simple traceability between requirements can be managed to a certain extent in a spreadsheet, but when a project has hundreds of requirements with hierarchical relationships, dependencies and other related artifacts that span multiple systems, a spreadsheet looses its manageability and integrity. A requirements tool may be able to give you a requirements traceability matrix report covering what that tool has access to internally, but these requirements should also flow into the other tools as part of their lifecycle and it is at that point when the relationship chain breaks. For example, the linkage of a requirement in a requirements management tool to a test case in a test suite would not be reported. Operationalizing artifact flow and enabling all related artifacts to be linked across the tool stack (instead of constantly switching between tools) is a game changer for traceability.

What is needed is a specialized integration layer (like Tasktop Sync) that enables cross-tool traceability. Tasktop Sync offers the capability to automatically replicate the actual artifact relationships across systems and keep the relationships in sync.

Even disparate relationship types can play nicely. For instance, let’s say you have one repository that allows you to indicate if one story is “blocked by” another story. But the repository that you are syncing to does not support the concept of a “blocked by” relationship. It does support the notion of simply “related to.” ARM in Tasktop Sync allows you to setup a synchronization that syncs both the stories to another system along with the “blocked by” relationship as a native “related to” in the other system. As an added bonus, if a repository does not support a certain artifact type, you can generate a clickable link for users to easily trace to the related item in the other system. For example, if one repository has a link between tests and defects, however, only defects are synchronized to the other system, this feature allows Tasktop Sync to generate a navigable link to the test as an attribute in the system where the test artifact does not live. This allows the users to have traceability to the test without having to first go to the source tool.

In a non-cursed ALM system, artifacts are linked to all of the other items it relates to. At Tasktop we call the ability to synchronize different types of associations and links between artifacts across tool sets Tasktop Artifact Relationship Management (ARM). ARM is the secret weapon for lifting the curse and achieving end-to-end traceability.

We invite you to learn more about lifting the lack of traceability curse by signing up for Artifact Relationship Management (ARM) training. Contact us for more information or to sign up for this training.

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Written by Brian Ashcraft Author

Brian Ashcraft is a Knowledge Architect Manager at Tasktop Technologies, and is responsible for customer success initiatives including managing the training program. What Brian enjoys most at Tasktop is working side-by-side with companies in the initial phases of product discovery and evaluation by providing hands on training and self-serve content. Brian has over 10 years of experience delivering software solutions in the Project, Process, Product, and Portfolio Management areas.