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3 ways to manage software requirements in Jira


Katarzyna Kornaga - 12 July 2019 - 0 comments

Manage requirements in Jira - cover image

Product requirements management is the process of documenting, analyzing, tracing, prioritizing and agreeing on requirements, then controlling changes and communicating them between team members and other stakeholders. Being an initial part of software development, gathering requirements has a strong impact on all the further stages. That’s why well-organized management of this phase is so important and should be treated on the same level as other activities. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case. During the project development, requirements often tend to be collected in external files, Excel sheets or separate tools. In order to be able to track the progress of all your activities and maintain a continuous process, it’s inevitable to have the objects gathered in one place. That’s what Jira can help you with. 

Requirements management affects the whole project

Requirements aim at defining which features or capabilities the final product must have to ultimately solve the users’ problems, as well as the business goals. If we have them specified, it’s easier to plan the next steps of development, divide the roles and responsibilities. Many companies underestimate it without knowing that this omission is considered one of the main reasons for a possible failure of the final product. If the requirements aren’t organized right from the start (as much as it’s possible for the particular project), it may lead to project delays, misunderstandings between the team members, and finally: waste of time and money. If the possible inaccuracies are found earlier in the project, they can be immediately fixed or even eliminated from the whole plan, so the team won’t have to invest their energy in unnecessary tasks.

The graph below illustrates an example of an effective approach to requirements management. With this kind of detailed analysis before the implementation, risk of duplicating work or necessity of going backward is minimalized.

Scheme of typical requirements management model

Bringing your requirements into Jira

Why choose Atlassian product for your requirements management? The specific answer depends on your particular aims, but Jira as a testing tool usually meets expectations of even the most demanding team members. Originally invented for tracking and managing projects, Jira Software enables developers to control the process from end to end and achieve the final products’ goals. Thanks to highly customized fields, users can personalize the software in order to speed up the process and make it fit their needs best. Jira  makes it possible to gather the requirements inside the same tool as other project related issues and link them between each other. Thanks to that, you’re able to keep testing and execute the whole software development together in a consistent interface. Each person involved has easy access to the data and can monitor implemented changes: developers, testers and other important stakeholders can keep up on track every step on the way.

There is a wide range of project types and structures. Each one of them requires an individual solutionMultiple options of documenting product requirements in Jira allow you and your team members to choose which model is best for them. We distinguish 3 basic ways of gathering requirements in Jira, which selected right at the beginning conduce the success of the final release.

3 ways to manage software requirements in Jira

1. Requirements as issue types

This is the most basic way of managing your requirements in Atlassian suite, as if you already use Jira for project management, storing the objects as issue types is intuitive to implement. The smart way of planning the workflow is to design the software development project basing on requirements settled and confirmed earlier. This solution helps with deciding on further steps and assigning specific roles and permissions to the stakeholders. As Jira administrators have permissions to create customized Jira issue types, all that needs to be done is to arrange setting up issues particularly dedicated for requirements and then, define each task with proper Labels and Components. Consistency in describing issues will make filtering and searching for specific requirements much easier and faster. Storing elements in Jira helps to establish elementary connections between related requests. If requirements are directly dependent, we can build a functional structure by linking corresponding tasks and subtasks with each other.

2. Integration with Confluence

Confluence is an Atlassian product as well, which in this case means that by working with it you get seamless integration of your requirements pages with Jira issues. This tool gives us a possibility to develop the requirements structure built in standalone Jira and allows to bring it on a higher level. Development issues and tasks can be created directly from requirements pages, so we keep seamless integration between the related objects. The main purpose of Confluence is optimizing the work with documentation, and in order to do that, it can store and present much more detailed information than Jira issues’ custom fields. Confluence provides its users with a Blueprint template in order to make describing details of requirements in the wiki platform easier and faster. When you decide on Confluence for requirements management, your team gains multiple options:

  • you can build the whole requirements structure in Jira and write the details of requirements in the dedicated pages;
  • instead of separating your requirements, you can put the entire specification into one Confluence document;
  • the third option relies on creating the tree structure of subpages in Confluence and connect them to the project with requirements gathered in Jira in order to enable tracking the progress.

Storing requirements in this space is surely more intuitive and efficient than gathering them in external tools or Excel sheets.  All activities related to requirements management executed in two environments connected on such a high level encourages discussions and improve communication between the stakeholders.

A product requirements page in Confluence

A product requirements page in Confluence. Source: Atlassian Documentation

3. Dedicated apps from the Atlassian Marketplace

There are tools designed for requirements management in the Atlassian suite. Requirements and Test Management for Jira (RTM) is one of them and it deserves to be highlighted, as it allows to structure not only requirements, but also test cases, thus completing the software projects that we normally have in Jira. This feature differentiates our brand new app from other testing apps available on the market. RTM not only allows keeping full integration with Jira, as it provides its users with seamless linking between requirements, Epics and user stories, and the issues related to testing. It also allows to organize requirements in a tree structure with folders and subfolders, so the elements could be clear for all the stakeholders. That kind of flexibility lets teams reflect the structure that can be built in Confluence, if necessary. Moreover, one of the most important advantages of RTM is full traceability. The tool gives us an easy, intuitive access to the view of relations between the objects. There are also built-in reports, such as Traceability Matrix or Requirement Coverage, which help make sure that all the requirements are covered by related features and test cases, so any detail won’t be missed.

RTM for Jira lets you put your requirements in a tree-structured view

RTM for Jira lets you put your requirements in a tree-structured view, transparent for all the team members

Summary

Storing requirements in Jira Software can contribute to a big improvement for your projects. It’s not a secret that executing the whole software development inside one tool speeds up the process and makes it much clearer for all the stakeholders than conducted using external solutions. Everyone can keep on track and follow the changes every step on the way. If you decide on using a dedicated requirements and test management tool for Jira, your range of possibilities gets even wider. Testing apps can provide you with requirements coverage reports and many more features, which properly used support efficient, well-organized workflow and prevent possible bugs in the final product.

If you’d like to test Requirements and Test Management for Jira (RTM) yourself, take a free 30-day trial from the Atlassian Marketplace. You can also book a live demo via Calendly, if you’d like to see the app in action, or read more on bringing test management process inside Jira on our blog: 

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