October 29, 2019

Need a Jira Traceability Matrix?

Requirements Management

There are certain things Jira does really well. It’s an Agile-friendly champion of managing tasks and issues; no wonder developers love it. If your team jives on Jira, you don’t want to take it away.

But you also need traceability to prove compliance. And doing that manually creates a host of problems.

Can You Create a Requirement Traceability Matrix Using Jira?

Full traceability is not innate to Jira, but users have options if they want to link issues to requirements and tests.

To achieve this, you must consider:

  1. What do you get out of traceability?
  2. What’s missing from Jira?
  3. What do you need to know before buying plugins?
  4. What should you look for in an alternative solution?

Traceability = Impact Analysis + Risk Mitigation + Compliance

Traceability is a structure of relationships. This expands beyond the relationships among issues in Jira. Your market needs should trace down to requirements and stories. In turn, those should trace to your tasks and tests – and even the scripts and source code they use.

These intricate relationships also support impact analysis. Thorough traceability reveals when a change is made, and also what the impact of the change will be before it’s made. Which is really important to risk mitigation.

It also gets MUCH more expensive to change/fix things the further in the development lifecycle it gets. Impact analysis helps mitigate that by proactively seeing what that change may affect.

From a development standpoint, traceability makes it easy to investigate suspect dependencies. A traceability matrix allows you to mark an item as suspect, see what changes it stemmed from, and determine what actions are necessary to resolve it.

Traceability matrices are also used in risk management for FMEAs, both the top-down and bottom-up approach.

At the end of the day, a traceability matrix is given to a client or used to prove compliance, so it needs to be captured in a document — one that links to tests and issues.

As you can see, full traceability lends itself to compliance and risk mitigation, and is not available using Jira alone. It takes numerous add-ons to get close to this functionality in Jira — and even then, you’re not quite there.

Trying to Fill the Gaps – Jira Add-Ons

The Atlassian community forum is full of inquiries about end-to-end traceability.

Look through the posts and you’ll quickly see that Jira does not support testing. Or requirements.

“I am looking for a traceability matrix that generates a report with url links back to the requirements/issues etc. I am using the standard report from Jira but it does not appear to have this in the the [sic] output.”

Without these components, there is no end-to-end traceability.

Of course, you can try to use plugins to fill in some blanks, but you’ll still run into problems.

For example, some users suggest using the R4J for Jira, but as one member points out in the Atlassian forum:

“Right now we are using different projects for requirements, test cases and defects, we have some test report in R4J but we have performance using R4J Coverage report, fails to open with large data.” 

Ultimately, a fix that works for some community members may not work for all when piecing together plugins for a Jira traceability solution.

I Think Jira Plugins Work for Me

If you don’t need end-to-end traceability, you might investigate plugins that fill certain gaps you have.  Given the volume of possible solutions and the specific limitations of each, it’s difficult to outline your options.

However, we can tell you what to consider before embarking on a hunt for add-ons.

This is a time-consuming endeavor, and some of these can be deal breakers:

  • Cost — Does each add-on require an additional license fee per user? Calculate these costs before committing, as these fees can more than double your investment.
  • Complexity —Entire businesses are built around configuring Jira and managing add-ons. Will your plugins make your toolchain so complex that you need to hire an outside consultant?
  • Single Vendor Support — Using several add-ons to achieve traceability means working with numerous vendors of varying quality, support, and sustainability.
  • Ongoing Maintenance — If you fail to keep all of your add-ons up to date, they can fail to function properly, slowing your product or project delivery.

To avoid these challenges, you can keep Jira and obtain traceability through a single software solution.

📕 Related Resource: Learn more about Tips for Creating Test Management for Jira

What to Look For in a Traceability Tool

The benefits of plugins are that you know they integrate with Jira, which is obviously key.

However, you can find integrable tools that make life easier than piecemealing inadequate add-ons and researching workarounds for them.

Here’s the checklist for what you need:

  • Test management — you need a platform that is designed to manage tests properly.
  • Requirements management — similarly, you need a tool that is designed specifically to manage your requirements.
  • Automated traceability — the right tool will link relationships and its own artifacts with Jira items for full traceability in reporting and audits.
  • Impact analysis — you should be able to perform an impact analysis from a test down to a work item or issue.
  • Single source of truth — all of these elements should link to each other, reflect real-time changes, and be available to all relevant parties.

A Tool That Makes Traceability Easy in Jira

If you want easy traceability with Jira, Helix ALM covers everything — and it’s structured so you only buy what you need.

Helix ALM integrates with Jira and has complete tests and requirements management. This full-scale solution provides:

  • Traceability matrix at the click of a button.
  • Instantaneous impact analysis.
  • Comprehensive audit trail.
  • Ability to import and export Word and Excel documents.
  • Embedded security capabilities to meet compliance.

Want to see how Helix ALM works with Jira for traceability? Watch this on-demand demo

Don’t commit to a solution without trying it first. Get Helix ALM free for thirty days. And see how easy it is to get traceability using Jira.

Try Helix ALM Free