“Tools never fixed a software problem,” says Richard Chennault, enterprise architect at Kaiser Permanente. But when it comes to managing the requirements process, tools can be a help—assuming good processes are already in place.
Whether you subscribe to the Rational Unified Process and own the complete suite of Rational applications or simply piece together your own toolset from smaller vendors such as Borland and iRise, tools can act as bearings and guardrails to help keep your requirements process moving and on track.
Some examples:n¿The Framework for Integrated Test (FIT), developed by Ward Cunningham (who also invented the community-edited online Wikipedia), is a platform where requirements are literally written as tests—for a requirement to be met, the test must pass. And FitNesse, which puts a wiki-like interface on the FIT methodology, allows business users (or more likely business analysts) to enter requirements into a spreadsheet interface that automatically produces test cases for later testing. n¿Sofea’s Prophesy (used by Bank of Montreal) lets customers and business analysts produce simulations and tests before any code gets written. n¿SteelTrace Catalyze (used by ADP) is a requirements-management tool that breaks requirements into functional and nonfunctional (qualitative) buckets, creates graphical storyboards of requirements and generates test documentation. n¿Telelogic’s Doors (used by Bank of Montreal and Procter & Gamble) integrates with Mercury Interactive’s TestDirector for automated testing. n¿Rise’s iRise Studio lets companies create rich prototypes of applications, allowing, if not functional tests, at least visual confirmation that requirements are being accurately modeled. “Short of having a simulation, you will get to the testing phase and have misrequirements,” says David Nix, vice president of online banking at Suntrust, an iRise user.n¿Borland’s Together (used by Kaiser Permanente) allows simplified requirements modeling.
But, while all these products can simplify the requirements in your life, “you have to focus on process first,” says Chennault. “You can do all this stuff with a notepad and a pencil if you have a great process.”