Author Archives: Andreas Birk

RMsis New on RM Tools List

With the latest May 2015 update of our list of requirements management (RM) tools we newly included two requirements solutions that are add-on products to Atlassian JIRA: RMsis by Optimizory Technologies Pvt. Ltd. and Requirements for JIRA by ease solutions Pte Ltd. This blog article introduces RMsis. Requirements for JIRA will follow in a separate article.

RMsis Availability and Vendor

RMsis is an add-on product to Atlassian JIRA on-premise installations. It plugs into JIRA as a separate sub-product coming with its own user interface, data structures, user roles, and access rights. JIRA issues can be linked from RMsis items (e.g., requirements), and RMsis items can be exported into JIRA issues. Besides RM functionality, RMsis provides support for testing.

The initial release 0.2 of RMsis was made available in October 2010. The current major release 1.8.0 dates from March 2015 with two additional updates since. RMsis vendor Optimizory is located in New Delhi, with consulting partners in Singapore, India, Germany, the Benelux countries, and Turkey.

RMsis Features, Information Model, and User Interface

Important features of RMsis according to the product page at Atlassian Marketplace are:

  • Flexible information model
  • Requirement versions, baselines, and branches
  • Cross project dependencies between requirements
  • Traceability between RMsis artifacts with JIRA artifacts and RMsis test cases

Information model: RMsis’s information model is based on a general type of requirement, which comes with a set of default attributes. Attribute values of these default attributes can be customized, and additional attribute types can be added. Requirements hierarchy can be expressed using parent/child relationships and via assignment of hierarchical tags. Child requirements are the actual items that contain detailed requirements information.

User interface: The main requirements view of the user interface is a tabular presentation similar to a spreadsheet table. There is one view for each of the two predefined requirements categories of unplanned and planned requirements. Within these table views, table columns correspond with requirements attribute types.

Tool Assessment

I could not run a trial-use of RMsis, yet. So the information provided in this article is based on the vendor’s sources available in the public domain, which are relatively rich and detailed.

While the list of RMsis product features is long, I am not always convinced of their implementation: Overall, RMsis makes some strong assumptions on requirements structure and process that cannot be changed. So, interested customers should carefully check whether the tool meets their way of working. One should also be aware that RMsis is a separate system running within JIRA, adding its own configuration needs and usage concepts. On the plus side are that RMsis has quite a long track record and a relatively large user base, and that it includes basic support for testing and test management.

Information Resources

Product homepage at Atlassian Marketplace: https://marketplace.atlassian.com/plugins/com.optimizory.rmsis.plugin.jira-rmsis

Product homepage at vendor site: http://products.optimizory.com/rmsis

Product documentation of latest release: http://docs.optimizory.com/display/rmsis/RMsis+Documentation+-+Latest+Release

List of RM Tools Updated

Today, we have published the new and updated May 2015 version of our list of requirements management (RM) tools. The previous version dated back from September 2014. Several vendors have since released new versions of their tools that we have referenced in the list. We have also removed several tools from the list that were obviously not maintained any more. Nine new tools have been added.

The list now includes 113 tools from which we feature 25 in a list of selected tools based on indicators of market share and market presence.

The extensions and updates to the May 2015 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., name changes, new product bundles), several obviously outdated ones have been deleted
  • Due to the increasing popularity of the Jira platform we decided to include RM specific add-ons for Jira.
  • We decided to remove tools that focus nearly exclusively on diagramming/mock-up functionality. These tools are classified as RM supporting tools and will be handled separately.
  • 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)

Since our previous version of the tool list from September 2014 some important changes happened. We have reported them in a series of blog posts. You might look up the articles for detailed information:

Another blog post gives a summary of additional updates to other tools.

In detail, we have performed the following changes to the set of tools included in the list.

Added:

  • agosense.requirements
  • ReqEdit
  • ReqSuite
  • Requirements for JIRA
  • RMsis
  • Rommana ALM
  • SOX2 RM
  • TREND/Analyst
  • Tuleap Enterprise

Renamed / Rebranded:

  • Blueprint Requirements Center into Blueprint
  • CA Clarity Agile into CA Agile Planning
  • ReqMan into RequirementONE Specification App

Removed:

  • Lucidchart has been removed, because we have reviewed and revised the tool classification; it is a diagramming and mock-up tool with very little RM-specific functionality
  • Reqtify has been removed, because we have reviewed and revised the tool classification; it is a specialized tracing tool lacking most other RM functionality
  • Requirements Management Database has been removed, because the product website is not available any more
  • rmtoo has been removed, because its open source project appears to be no longer active
  • VeroTrace has been removed, because we have reviewed and revised the tool classification; it is a specialized tracing tool lacking most other RM functionality

Included into list of selected tools:

  • Cognition Cockpit
  • in-STEP BLUE
  • Top Team Analyst

Polarion 2015

Polarion 2015 concludes our survey of version updates of selected requirements management (RM) tools. For a list of the other reviews check out the update announcement for our list of RM tools.

Polarion 2015 was released in March 2015. It is the latest major release, which are usually published once a year.

Live Reporting: Polarion has now adopted widget-based reporting that can be configured interactively. Previously, report definition required some coding. One of the widget types is a Gantt chart that provides a new way to visualize project planning data.

Cross Project Planning: Cross project planning adds a concept of hierarchies of projects. This allows for including items from connected projects into the plan of an overall project.

Signed Status Change: Explicit sign-off of review approval has been provided as a prerequisite for status changes of items to be reviewed.

Field-Based Permissions: Visibility and modification of work items can now be controlled on individual field level.

Polarion® Variants™: Polarion 2015 brings a new add-on product for variant management using feature models. The add-on bundles pure::systems‘s product pure::variants and integrates it into Polarion’s UI. Get more a detailed impression of this functionality from Polarion’s separate feature page.

Additional enhancements affect the management of hyperlinks, LiveDoc document components and layout, license management, performance, and implementation of underlying product concepts. If you want to look up details, check out Polarion’s blog article on the version update: http://blog.polarion.com/introducing-polarion-2015-whats-new-and-noteworthy/

A noteworthy new strategy of Polarion was to introduce the version update using an early access campaign. Important upcoming features were introduced during a series of blog posts and could be commented by users: http://www.polarion.com/2015/planning.php

Polarion 2015 was preceded by release 2014.3 in last December. 2014.3 featured enhancements to working with documents and wikis, new API elements as well as performance improvements: http://blog.polarion.com/polarion-2014-sr3-new-and-noteworthy/

Enterprise Architect 12

This article continues our series of recent updates of selected requirements management (RM) tools that we have included in our list of RM tools. Focus today is on Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect.

In spring 2015, Sparx Systems has published release 12 of its Enterprise Architect product. The main enhancements are new wireframing and database engineering support, new support for SML and XSLT definition. The list of new features:

  • Support for wireframing
  • Enhanced database engineering toolset for development of data models
  • Schema composer for developing XSD and other schemas from model elements
  • New support for XML and XSD editing and validation
  • XSLT debugger
  • Support for XMI merge using baseline merge sets
  • Default document handler
  • A new portals window as an additional UI element for navigating and building models
  • A navigator bar to provide more rapid access to current position within a model
  • Extended theme definition of user interface

In addition, the new release includes several other enhancements and additions, for instance to UI, requirements management functionality (new model patterns and extended requirements types), greater BPMN XML conformance, and inclusion of new standards and reference models.

For details check out the complete list of release updates in the following blog article from Sparx Systems: http://www.sparxsystems.com/products/ea/12/index.html

Collections of Agile Practices

While agile development is founded by the four agile values (see the agile manifesto) and ruled by agile principles (e.g., the 12 principles behind the agile manifesto), most of daily agile project work is determined by agile practices: How shall we act and interact in order to build new systems and software?

Every team shall establish its specific combination of agile practices that best suit its specific needs. But where can we find candidate agile practices? Where can we get advice on how to combine them and build effective development processes?

This article lists useful information sources on agile practices. Teams can use them as starting points when designing their own suitable development approach. In addition, when projects run into difficulties, the collections of agile practices might provide ideas on how to improve.

Before we move to the collections of agile practices, let’s take a look on how we can combine them into development processes: Agile methods (e.g., Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), and Lean Software Development) and agile method frameworks propose specific sets of practices that function well with each other. However, no agile method or framework might perfectly suit a specific situation and development context. So, you might well start with such a method or framework, but quite soon you will see the need to add some other agile practices, too. This is where the collections of agile practices come in …

A classic source of agile practices is the Agile Alliance’s Guide to Agile Practices. It covers the most important practices and presents them in an alphabetic list. Most practices are described by a concise definition, expected benefits and common pitfalls are stated, and the origins of the practices are defined. Unfortunately, not all practices are defined at this same level of detail.

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) homepage hosts an interactive diagram that illustrates the method framework and at the same time links to detailed explanations of each underlying agile practice. The explanations are generally very thorough and instructive. The SAFe homepage might be the richest and most elaborate source of agile practices. A related information source is Dean Leffingwell’s book on Agile Software Requirements.

Another approach for large-scale agile development has been described by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde in two related books. The second of these two books, Practices for Scaling Lean and Agile, hosts an extensive collection of agile practices.

Gojko Adzic has written a book and maintains a website on Specification by Example. This book contains useful explanations of agile practices, mostly from the requirements and testing disciplines.

The definitions of most agile methods involve collections of agile practices. The Wikipedia articles on Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), and Lean Software Development provide good overviews of the respective practices.

Additional kinds of information that can be regarded agile practices are patterns and pattern languages. The most comprehensive and possibly most relevant collection of  agile patterns has been published by the Scrum Pattern Community. The patterns have been collected and consolidated during the ongoing series of ScrumPLoP conferences. The community and conference homepage is http://www.scrumplop.org/. (PLoP stands for Pattern Languages of Programs.) The collection of patterns is available at the ScrumPLoP Published Patterns Homepage. It is structured in subject matter categories, so called pattern languages, such as Scrum Core, Product Organization, and Distributed Scrum. Each pattern language is a system of interrelated patterns. A pattern represents a specific practice with an explicitly defined objective and context situation. The ScrumPLoP homepage is a very rich source of information for everyone seeking inspiration and advice on how to apply and improve Scrum-based agile development.