Atlassian’s Requirements-Related Product Updates

In this issue of our updates series on the requirements-management (RM) tool market, we take a look on Atlassian‘s product portfolio, involving JIRA, JIRA Agile, Confluence, and others. Although we wouldn’t recommend these products for building, an advanced RM solution, they provide a fair level of support for various requirements management scenarios. For this reason, we have included Atlassian products into our list of RM tools.

In May, Atlassian has introduced a new product bundle: JIRA Agile Ready. It combines JIRA, JIRA Agile, Confluence and Confluence Team Calendars and shall cover essential agile work processes. From a requirements management standpoint, JIRA Agile Ready is interesting, because Atlassian provides features for transforming text statements written in the Confluence wiki (e.g., representing parts of specifications documents, individual requirements statements, customer requests etc.) into JIRA issues (aka item types). Since organizations can customize JIRA and JIRA Agile and define arbitrary item types, a text statement from Confluence can become an enhancement request (a typical JIRA issue type), an agile epic or user story (typical JIRA Agile issue types), or even a business or system requirement (provided, an organization first defines such customized item types).

This linkage between Confluence and JIRA (including JIRA Agile) can support the first steps towards systematic tool-based requirements management. Still, to our opinion, JIRA is lacking important functionality that we expect in a modern RM tool. In addition, the organization that runs JIRA must carry the relatively large burden of defining the entire requirements workflow, to a degree that significantly exceeds what would be required in specialized modern RM tools. For individual teams or smaller organizations, and particularly when conducting agile development, Atlassian’s offerings can provide a good starting point for tool-based RM. Since nearly every RM tool has quite viable connectors to JIRA, an organization can later attach a specialized requirements solution and relatively seamlessly extend its established JIRA-based workflows. So, if you want so, you might regard JIRA Agile Ready as kind of a starter drug for your lifelong addiction to effective requirements management.

The following blog posts and documentation pages outline how JIRA Agile and Confluence can be used for RM:

Freshly introduced in September 2014, just a few days ago, and announced in a blog post from yesterday is JIRA Portfolio. It shall facilitate the management of multiple projects and their relations from a central control environment. You might want to check out the provided product page and blog post for more details and for illustrations on how JIRA Portfolio works. From an RM perspective, we find JIRA Portfolio a useful building block when moving towards larger-scale requirements processes. Especially agile environments might value this support when implementing concepts from the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) or other large-scale agile RM process and method frameworks.

Polarion Requirements Updates

In this fourth article in our series on relevant recent updates in the requirements management (RM) tool market, let’s take a look on Polarion. Polarion is one of the major RM tools that we list in the “Selected” section of our RM tools list.

Polarion ALM 2014 was released in March 2014 (overview of main new features), with a first service release Polarion ALM 2014 SR1 in June, and a second one, Polarion ALM 2014 SR2, in September. The new requirements-related features that are marketed in the product variant Polarion Requirements are mainly in the following areas: Working with document views of requirements and specifications, release planning, requirements interchange, and tool operations (administrative features).

Several improvements relate to document views and document-related work practices. The main improvements are that administrators can centrally define custom document types as well as document workflows (for details see the SR1 blog post). The document permissions scheme has been made more fine-grained (see SR2 blog post). In addition, LiveDoc documents can be supplied with custom metadata fields that can be defined on a per-document basis.

For release planning, a new top-level item Plan has been introduced. It allows for defining arbitrary release hierarchies, attaching work objects to plans, and exposes release data to reports and dashboards such as agile burn down/burn up charts.

For requirements interchange, Polarion’s release notes list now that native support for ReqIF round-trip without additional plugins or integrations were possible. For instance, Polarion LiveDoc documents can be exported as ReqIF or RIF documents.

A general administrative improvement offers new support for running Polarion ALM instances in clusters. Different kinds of topologies are possible, for instance running clustered instances all using the same central repository, or running multiple instances with individual repositories each, or combinations of these. The improvements are relevant to the definition of failover scenarios and for flexible performance scaling.

Details on requirements interchange, release planning, and on clustering are illustrated in the ALM 2014 blog post. For a complete list of 2014 and 2014 SR1 features, you might also look up the release notes.

Another news from March 2014 is that Polarion launched a new extensions portal: At users can access various kinds of plug-ins, connectors, templates etc.

IBM Rational RM Portfolio Update

In our third article on recent updates on the requirements management (RM) tool market, we will take a look on IBM Rational. As one of the major players and with the past Rational and Telelogic acquisitions, IBM has had a diverse portfolio of requirements-related products. In past editions of our RM tools list, we used to include IBM Rational RequisitePro (not marketed any more), IBM Rational DOORS, IBM Rational Requirements Composer, IBM Notes (not a specialized RM tool, but traditionally a basis of quite many customized in-house RM solutions), IBM Focal Point (for RM-related product management and portfolio management), and IBM Rational DOORS Next Generation.

In June this year (2014), IBM Rational performed another move to consolidate its RM tools portfolio: IBM Rational Requirements Composer has been merged with IBM Rational DOORS Next Generation and will be discontinued some time in the future once the support period will be over. You might want to read IBM Rational’s blog post for details and background information.

Now it is clear that IBM Rational DOORS Next Generation will be the key requirements solution on the Jazz platform. One can also expect that DOORS Next Generation (consider its name …) will at one day become the successor of IBM Rational DOORS. However, we are not aware of any official statement from IBM Rational that this will happen, not to speak of when this will happen. As of now, with DOORS’s huge installed base and the many customizations used in the field, quite some time might pass until IBM Rational publicly touches the phase-out of DOORS. This is even more plausible when taking into account that DOORS Next Generation is being build on an entirely new technological basis, and that its name is the main element it has in common with the traditional DOORS product. So considerable efforts and time might still be required until a smooth transition path to the “next generation” will be created.

Jama Version 2014.1 & New Release Strategy

This is the second article in our series of blog posts on notable updates from the requirements management (RM) tool market that happened since February 2014. It features updates concerning Jama, mainly the with its new spring release 2014.1, presented in April 2014.

Jama 2014.1 brings two main features: Advanced support for management of trace relationships, and a new feature to support social interaction and user notification on requirements. In addition, Jama has modified its product release strategy, focusing more on its SaaS version. The SaaS version has recently received updates about once a month, including defect fixes and feature enhancements, while the on-premises version has been updated only with one major release during the past six months.

The remainder of this article dives deeper into these enhancements and changes, in order to provide existing Jama customers with more specific information.

Relationship rules & relationship status indicators: Trace relationships between items (e.g., business requirements, system requirements, user stories, epics, test cases) can be defined using rules. Project administrators can define for each relationship type what are the source and target item types the relationship type connects, and whether the relationships shall be included into coverage calculations. The rule set is also displayed graphically in the relationship administration window. Once a project has such relationship rules assigned, the creation of relationships between items in this project will be guided by the rules. For a given source item, only allowed relationship types will be offered. And only those target items will be available that fit the relationship type. This also avoids defining relationships with the wrong orientation (i.e., direction of the relationship).

Based on the defined relationships rule set, new relationship status indicators show for a given item how many related items it has, and whether its relationships comply with the defined relationship rules. Suspect links are indicated this way, too. The basic status indicator is part of the item view. But a similar new indicator can be added to list view.

Connected users: Connected users is another new concept added to each item. In item view, and again similarly in list view, an icon indicates how many users are associated to an item. This covers the item’s creator, editor, or who has commented, subscribed or been @ mentioned on this item. The connected users feature facilitates social interaction on items. It can also be used to find out about the popularity of requirements or product ideas. Connected users are organized in circles according to their association or involvement with the item. Users from these lists can easily be included into collaboration stream messages when discussing on an item or when sending notifications.

For details on the new features, you may consult the following information sources:

What else is new concerning Jama? One thing is the new naming scheme of versions. Jama has moved away from its seasons-related versioning scheme (e.g., “Spring version”) to indicating the calendar year and just enumerating the individual releases (e.g., “2014.1”)

The other, related but more important news is that Jama’s release strategy now distinguishes between its hosted SaaS version and the version offered for on-premise installation. The SaaS version is being updated in relatively frequent cycles, while feature updates and bug fixes for the on-premise version have been quite rare in the past months. The new 2014.1 features went live in the SaaS version on April 19, and the SaaS version has undergone seven updates until September 13. Some updates have contained many defect fixes, and feature enhancements occurred several times. For the same period, the on-premises release notes list only the release of 2014.1 was published on May 15 and an immediate defect fix on May 16.

Customers might want to evaluate carefully what release strategy fits best to their needs, and whether they want to go for SaaS or on-premise. In addition, the fast-moving SaaS offering provides a good opportunity for exploring and evaluating new features before they become available in the on-premises version.

For more information on releases and feature updates you may look up the following websites:

List of RM Tools: New Version Upcoming

In a few days from now, we will publish the next updated version of our list of requirements management (RM) tools. The current version dates from February 2014. In the meantime, many vendors have released new extended versions of their tools, or they have otherwise changed their product strategy or portfolio. We could also add a few more relevant tools to the list.

The main tool updates and events since February deserve some more information and explanation than just an updated version number in the list. For this purpose, we are starting a small series of blog posts that feature interesting and important news from the tool market since last February. We focus on our “selected” subset of tools that we find particularly relevant. The blog posts will appear in roughly chronological order following the dates of the reported tool updates and events.

This is the list of all blog posts of the series that has been completed in the meantime:

The September 2014 update of the RM tools list has been published on September 25.