Software tools to gather requirements for software products have been around for quite some time; most have focused on helping teams define and manage the requirements given by stakeholders and interpreted by business analysts.

The tools now allow for all parties to have conversations and debates about the product, arrange and prioritize requirements into individual product features, and attach those conversations and priorities to the requirements in order to allow these ideas to flow throughout the software development life cycle.

Requirements are the basis for software projects, and innovations in software depend on a strong understanding of requirements in order to deliver accurate code, said IBM’s Mike O’Rourke, vice president of Rational strategy and software delivery.

“We see companies trying to prioritize innovation versus cost-cutting. Software is the linchpin to innovation, and there is a driving notion of a system of systems: Software has to be developed to integrate with other systems,” he said.

IBM announced at last month’s Innovate Conference improvements to its existing ALM offering in order to enhance the gathering and management of requirements.

O’Rourke explained that IBM believes active in-context collaboration is important to the requirements management process. “Collaboration has to be stored with the requirements,” he said, adding that life-cycle traceability is also important so that every team member has access to the steps taken to develop a product.

Collaboration leads to better software
“Social collaboration is helpful to all types of development teams and environments because [developers] always have conversations about the requirements,” said Johan den Haan, CTO of Mendix, a provider of agile business applications.

Mendix’s new agile social collaboration tool, sprintr (currently in open beta), allows developers to interact with their stakeholders directly on a message board (or wall) in the tool, which is then mapped to a defect tracking system, keeping the conversations attached to the defects and requirements.

Change is constantly happening in a development cycle, particularly in teams focusing on agile methodologies, so it is important to have these conversations tracked and stored, according to den Haan.


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