List of RM Tools Updated: September 2017 Version

The September 2017 version of our list of requirements tools is available. It contains a total of 91 requirements management (RM) tools. The previous version dated back from November 2016.

The new September 2017 list contains many updates that show the requirements tool market is currently in a huge transition and transformation phase. Several vendors have merged in the past year, and there are interesting new developments towards support of agile development.

From the 91 tools overall, we feature 14 in a list of selected tools. The selection is based on indicators of market share and market presence. It shall provide focused support to organizations that want to collect a longlist for tool evaluation and selection.

Overall, the main update activities include:

  • All tools have been checked for availability and up-to-date web links to tool and vendor pages
  • Three tools have been added, many tool entries have been changed (e.g., name changes, new product bundles), several obviously outdated ones have been deleted
  • All tools have been supplied with up-to-date version information (where available) and assigned to the relevant tool categories (e.g., RD, RM, Agile)
  • The list of selected tools has been reduced from 25 to 14 tools.

The list of selected tools has been reduced, because our objective is to provide even more focused support to organizations that want to collect a longlist for tool evaluation and selection. So, we have removed tools that apparently have not received significant maintenance over the past years, that have already well-established successor products, or that appear to have little relevance on the market overall.

Added:

  • Specification Wizard
  • OpenProject
  • ALM Octane

Renamed / Rebranded:

This time, quite many tools have been renamed or rebranded. For instance, the former HPE Software product family belongs now to Micro Focus. During this process, the tool HPE ALM has been renamed into ALM Enterprise. All name changes are marked in the list by adding the former name in parentheses. An example: “HelixRM (was TestTrack RM)”

Removed:

We have again removed several tools for the following reasons: (a) the tool has been discontinued, (b) it has turned out that the tool does not show sufficient functionality for requirements definition or management, or (c) the tool’s product or vendor websites have not received any substantial updates for more than two years.

  • Acclaro DFSS
  • Axure RP
  • Cameo Requirements+
  • IBM Notes
  • IdeaShare
  • Justinmind Prototyper
  • LeapSE
  • LiteRM
  • MockupScreens
  • QPack
  • ReqT
  • SPEQit
  • Telerik Platform
  • Troux Architect

Requirements Management with Atlassian Confluence

Atlassian Confluence is one of the most widely used Wiki systems among software development teams. Besides other application areas it can be used to support requirements management (RM).

This article surveys relevant information resources and gives basic advice on RM with Confluence. It starts with Confluence-specific topics, touches the integration of Confluence with Atlassian JIRA, and concludes with recommendations on how to use Confluence for RM, also taking into account the inherent complexities of RM.

What is Confluence?

The Atlassian Confluence product homepage lists the main features of the tool and links to additional information. It positions the tool as a central work environment and structured information repository for teams, and for software teams in particular.

Atlassian’s central documentation homepage includes the links to the documentation pages of Confluence’s cloud and server product variants.

How to Use Confluence for Requirements?

For managing requirements, Confluence is superior to office applications, which are most commonly used as simple, entry-level solutions for requirements specification. Among Confluence’s advantages are:

  • One central point of reference for all requirements, always up to date
  • Version control of requirements changes
  • Access control for viewing and eding requirements
  • Some automation support for frequent RM tasks
  • Collaboration support like automatic notification of team members upon changes

Atlassian, when positioning Confluence as an RM solution, focuses on the so-called Product Requirements Blueprint. This is a template page that ships with Confluence and that provides some basic automation for RM tasks.

The most relevant information resources from Atlassian on RM with Confluence are:

Confluence and JIRA

The combination and integration of Confluence with its Atlassian sister tool JIRA provides particular advantages for RM, and for software team collaboration and project management in general: You gain coherent and consistent information management, task management, and progress monitoring across the entire application lifecycle and all software development workflows. In addition, there are various automation options around software change, configuration management, project planning, and monitoring.

Atlassian provides a documentation page on how to “Use JIRA applications and Confluence together”. It explains the prerequisites, lists the main integration options and use cases, and provides a summary table of the features and their required products, product variants, and version.

In summary, the main integration mechanisms for JIRA and Confluence are:

  • Collect and display JIRA issues on a Confluence page
  • Include reports and charts with information from JIRA into Confluence
  • Easily create JIRA issues from text contained on Confluence pages
  • Navigate from JIRA to Confluence and vice versa using links

Recommendations

Prefer Confluence over office applications

When you specify requirements mainly with office applications, text processors in particular, and already have Confluence in place, then you should consider to switch your software specifications to Confluence. Effort and risk of switching should be fairly small, and immediate gains and benefits very high.

However, keep in mind that every change in work practice and tooling requires some degree of planning, preparation, and guidance: Train and coach users, possibly provide page templates and usage conventions, and monitor how the Confluence spaces and pages develop.

If you, too, manage requirements with spreadsheet applications, you might consider to switch this part to JIRA. Information structuring and management in JIRA are similar to spreadsheets (as far as typical requirements tasks are concerned), and you gain benefits like versioning and integration with Confluence.

Prepare for requirements complexity

Requirements, like the software systems they specify, are inherently complex. Different persons or teams collaborating during requirements definition might have different or even incompatible work practices and documentation styles. No tool can dissolve this. You and your teams must face these challenges and manage them.

Take a look at Atlassian’s example Confluence page for requirements specification using their Product Requirements Blueprint: It is an excellent illustration of what the blueprint template provides for requirements specification. However, it is everything but a realistic specification document.

For instance, even the simplest software system has far more requirements than you want to put into one table on a Wiki page. Requirements belong to different aspects that you might want to separate into different specification documents—e.g., different functional dimensions or subsystems, or separating technical data requirements from user experience design. These specification parts interrelate: So, how do you capture and document dependencies? etc. etc.

Before you “just use” Confluence for requirements specification, consider questions like the following:

  • What shall be the scope of specifications put into a Confluence space?—Everything in one space? Each customer variant of the system in a separate space? One space for each major product release?
  • What shall be put into a single Confluence page?—Separate pages by functional groups? or by specification dimensions like functionality, legal, data, and user experience?
  • How shall individual requirements be described?—As sections in a text flow? As table entries? What attributes / column shall the table have?
  • Do we want predefined, detailed page templates?

Prepare to extend your requirements solution over time

Confluence is great for some kinds of requirements specification. But no tool can be suitable for everything. Be aware that you might gradually evolve and extend the ingredients of your requirements solution.

JIRA is a good companion of Confluence. You can add it quite easily even to ongoing projects, and you deepen the integration on the fly. At one point you might possibly switch the lead role between the tools. For instance, start ideation of a new system in Confluence; but when you are in implementation mode, then add new detailed requirements in JIRA.

It can also become necessary or beneficial to further extend the tool platform: There are specialized JIRA add-ons for requirements management. And you possibly need to integrate with other requirements or ALM solutions.

All this can become relevant, and you better should be prepared. However, as long as a simple solution works fine, keep it! Confluence can definitely be a fairly simple, stable, and very smart solution for many requirements tasks.

List of RM Tools Updated: November 2016 Version

The November 2016 version of our list of requirements tools is available. It contains a total of 101 requirements management tools. The previous version dated back from February 2016. Several vendors have since released new versions of their tools that we have referenced in the list.

From the 101 tools overall, we feature 25 in a list of selected tools. The selection is based on indicators of market share and market presence.

The extensions and updates to the November 2016 release of our RM tools list include:

  • All tools have been checked for availability and up-to-date web links to tool and vendor pages
  • Some tools have been added, some tool entries have been changed
    (e.g., product name changes, company acquisitions, new product bundles)
  • Several outdated ones have been deleted
  • All tools have been supplied with up-to-date version information (where available) and assigned to the relevant tool categories (e.g., RD, RM, Agile)

Overall, the following tools have received major updates between February 2016 to November 2016:

  • codeBeamer Requirements Management
  • Enterprise Architect
  • Innovator for Business Analysts
  • Mingle
  • objectiF RM

Important changes occurred with regard to tool vendors: Siemens completed the acquisition of Polarion. It is now a product of the Siemens corporation. In May Micro Focus completed the acquisition of Serena which added some requirements management and agile tools to the Micro Focus portfolio. In September HPE and Micro Focus announced their intention to spin-merge HPE Software.

Concerning the set of tools included in the list, we have performed the following changes during our November 2016 update:

Added:

  • Atlas from Micro Focus
  • Workspace.com from Workspace.com

Renamed / Rebranded:

  • in-STEP RED now objectiF RPM
  • ontime now axosoft
  • Agilian now Visual Paradigm

Removed:

We have again removed several tools that have been discontinued, or whose product or vendor websites have not received any substantial updates for more than two years.

  • AgileZen – no longer available for purchase
  • Avenqo PEP – inactive
  • Axiom – inactive
  • ArcWay Cockpit – inactive
  • Enfocus Requirements Suite – no product information on website
  • GatherSpace – inactive
  • Objectiver – inactive
  • QFDcapture – inactive
  • TeamPulse – no longer available for purchase
  • X-Tie-RT – not available for purchase
  • YAKINDU Requirements – no product information on website

HPE and Micro Focus Intend to Spin-Merge HPE’s Software Business

On September 7, 2016, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE; https://www.hpe.com; NYSE: HPE) and Micro Focus (https://www.microfocus.com; LSE: MCRO.L) announced their intention to spin-off HPE Software and merge it with Micro Focus. The merger is expected to close in Q3 2017 (HPE fiscal year; equivalent to summer 2017).

Screenshots of HPE's and Micro Focus's merger announcements on September 7, 2016

Screenshots of HPE’s and Micro Focus’s merger announcements on September 7, 2016

In this article I survey the main facts available to date and attempt a first analysis of the merger with regard to the companies’ product portfolios in the areas of application development and application lifecycle management.

What we can expect to happen:

  • There will be about six to nine months of uncertainty, and possibly stagnation, too. HPE Software will most likely stop most new product investments and focus on executing spin-off, merger, and new formation under the Micro Focus umbrella.
  • HPE’s traditional ALM/QC product line, market leader in enterprise testing solutions, can be expected to stay and be maintained over a (very?) long period. HPE ALM/QC is exactly the type of product that Micro Focus’s strategy is specialized to tend and exploit.
  • It is unlikely that products will be merged or harmonized across Micro Focus’s product lines like Borland, Serena, and the HPE Software portfolio. Because this way Micro Focus can maximize profit from established mature products.
  • The future of HPE’s recent and forthcoming agile offerings will be open. HPE recently came up with a number of very promising new products like Mobile Center for mobile testing and ALM Octane for agile development. Micro Focus’s plans published so far don’t indicate what might happen to these products. The company will need future champions. However, not every product can become the pick of the bunch. Running many new investment areas would not be in line with Micro Focus’s operating model.

What We Know Today: HPE

HPE’s press release states:

  • The transaction will have a value of approx. $8.8 billion.
  • The transaction is currently expected to occur by the second half of HPE’s fiscal year 2017. (HPE’s fiscal year starts in November, it’s second half starts in May.)
  • The new company will continue under the name Micro Focus.
  • HPE shareholders will own 50.1% of the new combined company.
  • An HPE senior executive will serve on the board of directors of the combined company. In addition, HPE will nominate 50% of the independent directors to the combined company’s board.
  • The transaction will include HPE’s Application Delivery Management, Big Data, Enterprise Security, Information Management & Governance and IT Operations Management businesses.
  • The new combined company is expected to have annual revenues of approx. $4.5 billion, which will make it one of the largest pure-play enterprise software companies.
  • The new company is expected to have high profitability. It is claimed that this ensured higher levels of investment in growth areas.
  • Each product line will have a clear role in overall company performance (i.e., each product will need to demonstrate its profitability).

What We Know Today: Micro Focus

Micro Focus positions itself as a global infrastructure software company, committed to enabling customers to both embrace the latest technologies and maximize the value of their current IT investments. (see: Micro Focus At a Glance)

Micro Focus’s regulatory statement on the proposed merger sees potential to improve profitability of HPE Software’s businesses. Application of Micro Focus’s operating model is expected to raise HPE Software’s adjusted EBITDA margin of currently approximately 21% to Micro Focus’s equivalent margin of approx. 46% by the end of the third full financial year following completion of the merger. This applies to HPE Software’s mature software assets that represent approx. 80% of the business segment’s revenue.

According to a Financial Times article, Kevin Loosemore, Executive Chairman, Micro Focus, confirmed that the new company would have “total control” of the business despite the links to HPE on the board.

Micro Focus has a history of acquiring other software companies with well-established, mature product portfolios. The most prominent examples from the application lifecycle management and application development areas are Borland and Serena. Both product lines are positioned under their respective brands, while they can also be accessed via Micro Focus’s central products directory.

Speed up On-Premises Product Delivery

Fast delivery of value to customers is today’s business mantra – especially in the software industry. In this blog I reflect on delivery challenges of companies which offer the same product as SaaS AND on-premises solution. I will also present a case study that shows how a company has dramatically improved its on-premises delivery speed.

Within the past 15 years we have seen several approaches how to foster fast delivery of software products. Two prominent ones are:

  • Agile development
  • Cloud based solutions

The agile approach to software development produces software products incrementally and frequently. This is achieved by close interaction with customers and a set of development principles that are based on the agile manifesto. It is not uncommon that software companies create new versions of their software products on a monthly or even shorter frequency.

How are these product increments delivered to the customer?

Currently there are two major mechanisms in use:

The fastest way for on-premises provisioned products, is to check during launch if there is a newer version of the product available. If so, the newer version will be automatically downloaded and installed. This practice is often used within the software games industry. E.g. games that are provisioned by the steam gaming platform. Traditional ways to deliver a new on-premises version are customer notifications combined with manual on-demand-downloads.

SaaS provisioned products are often under control of the company in charge for the development of the product. Whenever the development organization has produced and tested a new product increment, it will be moved to the SaaS server. Customers that launch the product through their web browser are automatically connected to the latest version of the product. Cloud-based solutions enable software vendors to deliver new software features quite often to their customers. The only thing left to do is to update the software on the runtime environment that is often under their own control. In such environments it is not uncommon that bug fixes and new features are delivered on a weekly or even on a daily basis.

The dual-delivery challenge

Companies which started business after the millennium focus often on cloud based solutions and do not provide on-premises products. In contrast, companies that have been around for more than 15 years are used to on-premises delivery and have established their business around that channel. However, more and more of those companies start to deliver their products as SaaS-based products in addition. Prominent examples are Microsoft with their office suite and HPE with their ALM solution.

Serving two channels with the same product creates new challenges. Customers that utilize on-premises products often have to wait for more than a year to get new features. Features which they can already see within the SaaS version of the same product. This situation creates quite some tension. Therefore, product companies try shortening the delivery cycles for on-premises solutions as well.

The company Jama Software was faced with this challenge and recently came up with a new release model for their on-premises release stream of the requirements product named Jama.

Case study Jama

Jama Software prefers the SaaS delivery channel. However, they accept that some of their customers do not want data managed outside their company’s intranet. Especially, if the data contains sensitive information about upcoming product releases which is usually the case when managing requirements.

As a consequence, Jama Software delivers its product as a hosted solution via SaaS AND as an on-premises solution. Typically, they release two on-premises versions within a year. However, customers using the SaaS version get access to new product features much earlier.

In summer 2016 Jama Software announced a significantly changed new release mechanism: On-premises Express. With the on-premises express channel they aim to deliver new versions on a monthly base. Compared to the half year release schedule so far this represents a stunning acceleration in delivery.

What are the secrets to Jama Software’s cycle time reduction?

First of all: A thorough analysis of the current situation. Finding out the areas of work that need a lot of time for each release. The current server part of the product Jama is delivered on two operating systems: Windows and Linux. All used 3rd party components need to be available on both platforms at the same time. So far Jama Software supports two database systems: MySQL and Oracle. Features and bug-fixes need to be tested on both platforms and DBs. Testing bug fixes and new product features on the various configurations consumes quite some time.

Jama product management made the tough decision to drop support for Microsoft Windows server and Oracle DB. This enabled the QA organization to substantially reduce time for testing. Now Jama Software delivers the same software configuration to their customers that they use on their hosted platform as well.

Second, they analyzed their current architecture in regards to ease of modification. They found out, that they could improve their product significantly by a new way of modularization.

Third, they decided to utilize top-notch technology for isolating the product into distinct independent components, thereby easing software distribution. Jama Software decided to utilize Docker containers. They now encapsulate product dependencies like Java and Tomcat into containers, so that customers don’t need to care about specific Java or Tomcat versions.

Fourth, accelerating deployment. Jama software now uses Replicated. This technology takes advantage of Docker and deploys containers not only to the SaaS server of the vendor but also behind a customer’s firewall. Using Replicated Jama Software now builds the product just once and deploys the result simultaneously to their own hosted instance and to registered customers.

Develop and Deploy

Encapsulating product services into Docker container and managing deployment with Replicated enables Jama Software to manage deployment of the service-oriented architecture much faster, more flexible and more reliable than before.

Summary

Achieving cycle time reduction in development is just one element to deliver software to customers more frequently. It needs to be matched by fast deployment methods, so that the whole DevOps chain can be covered. On top of that the product managers of Jama Software needed to make some tough decisions what not to support in the future. These decisions took complexity out of the product and significantly reduced testing time. Product managers are responsible for the overall product success. They have a holistic view of the business and need to look at all aspects along the delivery chain of a product in order to come up with solutions that enable sustainable business success. Jama Software has rebuild major elements along that line.

We may expect similar moves by other vendors this year as they all face similar pressures.
Stay tuned.

Further information:

Jama delivery channels

Replicated Technology: SaaS vs. on prem solved

Docker

Software Product Management: Key to software product success