Requirements Traceability Matrix

Posted on August 28, 2009 by


The Requirements Traceability Matrix is a tool that organizes a project’s requirements by linking them to their origins and tracing them throughout the project.

It is the purpose of the Manage Requirements Traceability process in the BABOK® 2.0 and it is an output of the fourth edition PMBOK®’s Collect Requirements process – a perfect example of a “management nexus” that weaves similar topics through multiple disciplines.

Tracing illustrates how a requirement relates to something else. Backward Traceability indicates from where a requirement has come, and Forward Traceability indicates which requirement(s) came from something else. Requirements can be traced based on business needs, goals, objectives, project scope, product design, test scenarios, etc. Also, high-level requirements can be traced to more detailed requirements. Requirements attributes, such as an identifier, description, owner, source, priority, stability, etc., can also be recorded in the matrix. The value of the matrix is that it can quickly demonstrate if a requirement does not appear to belong anywhere, indicating that it may be out-of-scope. Also, it can indicate that requirements are missing. For example, if a business objective has no requirements linked to it, additional requirements may be needed to meet that objective.

Here is a simple Requirements Traceability Matrix that links Katy’s three objectives for her cookies—that they taste good, and are big and safe, with six of her requirements.  As can be seen, all three objectives have requirements linked to them, and there are no requirements that cannot be linked to any of the objectives.

RTM for Katys Cookies