Productivity in software development is slowed down by managing specifications across various requirements management (RM) tools. Although moving to a single, updated RM tool involves an upfront investment, the long-term benefits are considerable. These include increased process efficiency, enhanced collaboration, superior traceability, improved software specification quality, cost reductions, scalability and better integration with other RM tools, among others.
In the pursuit of operational excellence, companies often employ specialised requirement tools, seeking to capture, track and manage the evolving needs of their projects effectively. However, using deprecated software or using multiple tools simultaneously can introduce complexity, miscommunication and inefficiencies into the development process. This was the dilemma of one of our customers in the medical technological area, who had issues with two parallel requirements tools, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding the Why: Reasons to Migrate
Our customer’s struggle with maintaining two different requirements management (RM) tools, tool A and tool B, was a clear illustration of the challenges that arise when information sources are distributed across multiple platforms. Each tool had its own unique way of handling and managing requirements, which, when used simultaneously in various projects, led to inevitable dependencies on each other. This resulted in reduced productivity, as users frequently found themselves transitioning between the two tools and their respective processes, and work items could not be cross-linked effectively.
The price increase in the per-user license for tool A, besides the maintenance costs of both tool licences and structures, also contributed to leading our customer to improve their RM tool landscape.
In contrast, tool B, which was designed to handle requirements management, project management and quality assurance on a single platform, demonstrated its ability to meet several customer needs. It facilitated efficient communication and collaboration on requirements and provided comprehensive specification traceability. Its customisation features also helped improve some management processes.
Recognising the advantages of tool B, our customer decided to migrate their software specifications from tool A to tool B. The migration process, although requiring significant effort in terms of data mapping and migration, tool configuration, user training, and tool and data validation, promised a quick return on investment. The long-term operational benefits included central storage for requirements specification and consistent integration across projects.
Many other organisations across various industries encounter similar difficulties when operating with multiple, disjointed RM tools or attaching them to legacy systems. In contrast, state-of-the-art RM tools, designed with scalability in mind, provide integration with project management software, developer pipelines or ERP systems. This enables seamless collaboration between all teams. They can accommodate expanding data volumes and user demands without compromising performance.
Key Steps for a Successful Migration
Requirements Elicitation: Elicitation: Identifying the technical requirements for the migration was a significant challenge. We analysed the limitations of the current RM tools and outlined migration objectives. Additionally, we evaluated potential RM tools for modern features and integration capabilities, with valuable input from key stakeholders and end users. A crucial step was defining with stakeholders how the fields and data should be displayed in the new RM tool and what logic should be followed regarding work item types or link structures.
Data Mapping: Prior to migration, we gained a comprehensive understanding of the existing data and processes. We developed a transition plan and implemented backup strategies to protect against data loss. In collaboration with stakeholders, we detailed all information regarding data, dependencies and linkage methodologies.
Iterative Deployment: Choosing an iterative approach, we incrementally migrated various document branches and work item types to tool B. This allowed our customer to monitor progress through regular, brief coordination rounds and intervene if necessary. Working with developers during the migration process enabled us to identify potential obstacles early, such as inadequate API interfaces or data type conflicts, aiding in the estimation of a realistic timeframe and the automation of part of the data transfer. We also conducted controlled testing of the migrated content, allowing teams to adapt to tool B and critically evaluate its new processes. Finally, we implemented the linking logic for all correctly migrated work items.
Training: To facilitate a smooth transition, we offered a range of training options. For larger migrations, we established a dedicated support team to promptly address queries and challenges.
Continuous Review: We consistently monitored the performance of tool B, taking into consideration user feedback to drive ongoing refinements and ensure alignment with organisational needs.
Our customer’s experience with two parallel RM tools highlighted the challenges of managing information across different platforms and the negative impact it has on productivity. By migrating to a single, updated RM tool, they were able to enhance collaboration, improve traceability and ensure consistent integration across projects. The upfront investment in the migration process was outweighed by the long-term benefits, including increased process efficiency, improved software specification quality, cost reductions and scalability. This business case serves as a reminder for organisations in various industries to consider the advantages of unified RM tools and the potential for streamlining their software development processes.