February 15, 2011

Traceability Separates You From the Herd

Unlike a wildebeest, your products are unlikely to thrive in the middle of the herd right now. In challenging economic times, your customers start focusing on value and you need to separate yourself from the herd. I was reminded of this earlier in the week while listening to Activision Publishing's CEO discuss the gaming market. In responding to a question about current challenges in the gaming industry, Eric Hirshberg had this to say (paraphrasing):

It's really the best of times and the worst of times for the gaming industry. The top 10 titles are bigger than ever and growing, the part of the industry that is struggling is the "middle class of title." The middle-budget and middle-rating games aren't seeing as much interest as they did just a few years ago ... There's no way to market yourself out of a mediocre game.

His point was that quality is the key imperative to a title's success, and that's something we're seeing in every industry right now. The products that best meet users' needs—and do so reliably—are the products that win in this market. A key challenge we're solving for customers in this regard is improving their ability to reliably translate market needs into delivered software. On the one side, you have product management and analysts responsible for "listening to the market" and formulating the product vision. On the other side, you have development and quality assurance responsible for delivering on that product vision. What we're seeing in the market is a fundamental disconnect between those groups:
  • Development can't connect code with requirements, so they provide "guesstimates" to QA and management on true feature-completeness.
  • Quality Assurance can't connect testing with requirements, giving them limited visibility into test coverage and overall product quality.
  • Analysts have no insight into the impact of requirement changes, which prevents making intelligent risk/reward trade-offs during the development cycle if business needs change.
The fix here is to enable traceability of artifacts throughout the development lifecycle. To learn how improved traceability can close the gap between product vision and what is ultimately delivered, register for our 'When Requirements Change' webinar. Peter Varhol, Seapine Software solutions evangelist, will be discussing what traceability is, why traceability matters, and how to effectively implement traceability without hurting your team's productivity.