October 20, 2014

3 Handy Widgets for Monitoring Product Requirements

Helix ALM
Looking to monitor requirements and design on your TestTrack Home Page? Here are 3 widgets that can help. For these examples, I'm going to assume you're using a simple requirements workflow as shown below. Requirement workflow diagram  

#1 - Requirements Under Review

It's not uncommon for requirements to go out for review and then sit for awhile, waiting on the review to actually happen. You can use a widget to monitor and quickly review the list of requirements under review, to make sure reviews are being done in a timely manner. Remember that creating a widget is a two-step process. First you create a filter, then you create a widget to use the filter. Using the simple requirements workflow, there's just one state for design reviews called "Ready for Review", and you can quickly create a filter to identify requirements being reviewed. Filter for requirements under review Once the filter is saved, create the widget by going to Tools > Administration > Home Widgets and clicking the + button. For this example, I'm going to simply tag requirement widgets in blue but you could use a 2-color mapping if you want to highlight when the number of requirements under review hits a certain threshold. Widget for requirements under review This kind of widget can be used to track requirements in any combination of states. Many customers have a special state for requirements that change after being approved. Those are usually changes that need to be scrutinized quickly, and tweaking the filter above to look at that state would let you watch for those on the Home Page as well.

#2 - High-churn Requirements

Change happens, but requirements that are constantly changing cause issues throughout the project. The constant back and forth of reviews annoys stakeholders and takes time away from more valuable work. Additionally, high churn in a specific requirement or area of the design often points to an underlying flaw in the design that should be addressed so that it doesn't drag the entire project down. To monitor requirements churn, you first need to create a calculated field to measure the churn. Then, you can create the filter and widget. Go to Tools > Administration > Custom Fields and add a new Requirements custom field, set the Field Type to "Calculated." For this example, I'm going to call the field "Churn" and base it off of how many times the Reject event has been applied to a requirement (again, basing this on the simple requirements workflow). The details for the new custom field are in the following screenshot. To build the formula I clicked Insert Formula then selected Items.Events.count and chose the Reject event from the Inputs menu. Calculated field for requirements churn Now that the field is setup, it's straightforward to create a filter. For this example, I'm going to filter in any requirement that's gone through the review cycle more than 3 times. I want to know about the 4th rejection so I can review the requirement and determine how to stop the churning. Filter for high-churn requirements The last step in the process is to create a widget. For this one, I'm going to use a 2-color widget; green is good and red is bad. Widget for high-churn requirements

#3 - Business Requirements to Break Down

Early in the process, you might have a big list of requirements from marketing or the product owner that need to be broken down into functional requirements, specifications, and the like. Some customers I talk to get an email or document from the product owner and put the high-level requirements into TestTrack themselves, while others allow marketing team members or even customers to input requirements in TestTrack on their own. Everyone's process is a little different, the key is making sure no requirements are lost in the mix. One way to watch for those incoming requirements is with a widget. For this example, I'm looking for specific types of requirements and checking whether they have a link to other types of requirements. The link type shown below might not be in your project, it all depends on how you've configured link definitions. Use whatever link type makes the most sense, given your development process. filter4 For the widget, I'm sticking with blue for requirements widgets. This widget can help team leads identify missed requirements, or it could be used by the entire team to help them identify requirements they can grab and start working on. If you prefer to assign requirements to specific individuals before work starts, you could tweak this widget by adding an "Assigned to" restriction in the filter. This would shift the focus of the widget from helping everyone identify missed requirements to helping individual team members identify the specific requirements they should be working on next. widget4 So there you have it, 3 handy widgets to help you monitor requirements and design on the Home Page. If you've created some cool widgets for your team, leave a note in the comments below. I'd love to hear the details!