Right Tool for the Job?

58% of Projects are at Risk due to Poor Requirements Management Tool Selection.

Requirements Management usage info graphic
Mandatory Info Graphic (Requirements Management Tools Usage)

Over half of projects are using spreadsheets and word processing documents to manage their requirements they are taking a large risk.

poll showing who uses what tool
Requirements Management Poll

OK, so the tool  poll was very small and not necessarily scientifically significant, but it does indicate that not everyone has seen the light. And it gives us some data to draw the nowadays ‘mandatory’ info graphic!

As a young student, I remember being introduced to ‘Office‘ applications on a special ‘visit’ to a college. We were shown a spreadsheet and a word-processor. During the hands on task we were all asked to write something. A fellow student completed their piece but couldn’t understand why their work preview looked different to everyone else’s. Whilst all the words were there they were spaced in an odd manner. They’d used the spreadsheet, and entered a word in each cell and changed the columns until the text fitted. Whilst this is laughable now, the fact is the tool still allowed the job to be completed, still allowed the brief to be met. However, the result, using the wrong tool, was not as useful. Imagine trying to cut and paste a sentence into the middle of an existing clause….

A requirements management tool is adapted to aid the flow of requirement through design to testing and end of life. Items are linked in the project’s chain, unlike a design attribute in one document, vaguely referring to some version of a requirement in another.

Would we suggest a Requirements Management tool is needed for all projects?

NO! We wouldn’t, which may sound surprising from a tool vendor. If you make cupcakes and you get an order for 24 cakes 12 blueberry and 12 chocolate we would suggest a spreadsheet with a sheet of costings and a sheet of orders is probably enough, even a diary with the order written in the day before collection day would suffice.  We really don’t want you to spend your money on an inappropriate tool. Spend it on some new icing nozzles and deliver us a batch of cakes. However, if you produce tens of thousands of cupcakes for a number of different vendors and have numerous suppliers, recipes and food standards to meet, well we could conceive of a Cupcake project as a set of Requirements and associated items that needed to be managed. Supplier X changes their ingredient, which products does this affect?

Away from food, before we all feel hungry, we can confidently say that YES the more complex your product, the more components, stakeholders, standards and tests you have to mange, the more important the right tool. The easier traceability becomes, the easier changes can be made and impact calculated. Don’t try laying bricks with a spade, just because you have one in the shed. Don’t try turning precision parts with a drill and a file just because it appears to work. Don’t try and write a novel in EMACS just because it is an extremely powerful text editor . DO use the right tools for the job,

Related Articles

Seeing the light, are you viewing your projects through rose coloured spectacles? Windows and Doors do they need RM (Requirements Management)?

Requirements Management for Windows and Doors?

Requirements Management Isn’t Just For The Big Players.

Your boss says “Don’t be ridiculous you don’t need, requirements management for windows and doors!”…

Your client has asked that the new Town-Lodge is fitted with UPVC doors, windows and fascias throughout. All fire regulations for a medium occupancy building must be adhered to. Locks must have master key and single key access. Glass must meet the company’s privacy specification.  And so on….. Whether you are building a spacecraft with millions of parts with hundreds of engineers, or you’re a firm of three fitters running a building service, you have requirements to manage. The HID (Hierarchy Diagram below) shows that a large number of interdependencies, even for the supply of simple items, quickly builds. Consequently the complexity of managing those requirements becomes more of a task. The requirements for windows and doors to a 20 room Town-Lodge involves glass specifications and safety constraints. These may differ depending on the location and size of the window/door. Planning, using a tool can simplify the traceability of any job.

HID showing how complex even a requirement for a few windows and doors can be complex
Even Windows and Doors Can Benefit from Requirements Management

Managing Change

The quotation has been accepted by the Town-Lodge. However, you were careful enough to note that the price was ‘subject to regulatory change’. When Ref 125-ere-2008 comes up for review and an amendment is raised, it is easy to trace what this impacts. Running a query on the Safety Regulations and showing the linked items, furthermore,  it can be seen these refer to the Emergency Access Windows. The trace shows these are linked to Customer Requirement CR6 and CR8. Finally it is a simple case of writing the email to the Town-Lodge and explaining regulatory change requires thicker glass and this will change the price for these two windows. Then await their approval. Therefore, in answer to your boss, “I can see the future for a tool to give us requirements management for windows and doors – can we buy a copy of Cradle ?”

Running a query to find the impact of a change, requirements management for windows and doors is necessary
Finding the Impact of a Change

Validation and Acceptance

The Lodge has agreed that they will pay when the work has been completed satisfactorily. Prior to starting work you have agreed a set of acceptance criteria. There could be endless tweaks or subjective “I don’t think that’s finished” conversations unless clear acceptance criteria and associated validation techniques have been agreed. Imagine you have a noise reduction requirement, “The noise reduction between the window open and window closed shall be 6dB”. Record the pre-agreed acceptance method as a Cradle item, and link this to each of the requirements with noise acceptance criteria. (This requirement in turn is linked to the rooms that it affects)

  • Noise Reduction Measurement. A white noise generator shall be sited at 1m from the window. The position will be adjusted until a measurement of 80db or more is detected inside the room with the window open at a distance of 1m inside the room. A second reading shall be taken with the window shut and this shall be subtracted from the first reading.

Running a query against the noise test will find all the rooms that this applies to. Now you can make your measurements and record your findings. You now have full traceability for each aspect of the product being delivered to The Lodge. “Dear Boss, Submit the invoice, Cradle aided demonstration to The Lodge site manager that all our acceptance criteria had been met. I think we’ve proved a use for requirements management for windows and doors.”

February 2017 Newsletter

Happy Chinese New Year

3SL 祝愿我们的所有客户,合作伙伴和供应商2017吉祥如意!

Regulation, Compliance and Traceability from Cradle

Discovery, Implementation, Demonstration, is this really what making a product is all about?

From a product development point of view, Elicitation, Analysis, Specification and Validation may be terms an engineer is more familiar with. However, we work in a world where regulation and compliance are hugely important factors in a product’s lifecycle.

As developers and producers we must discover the sets of codes, regulations and standards that form the non functional requirements of our product. We must the implement the changes to our product design to ensure the end product is compliant. Before delivery we must be able to trace our designs and decisions to demonstrate how we comply.

For further discussion on the parallel paths that a product lifecyle must comply, please read one of the 3SL’s whitepapers here.

Twitter Tips

Thanks to those extra follows from January, don’t forget to retweet whenever you find a tip helpful and keep using those #3SL and #Cradle tags.

Baseline Past and Present

Whenever a project reaches a defining moment it is advisable for the project to be baselined. A line in the sand to say ‘we are at this point’, a point from which further development and changes can stem.

However, sometimes we want to return to and extract a particular baseline, say to use as the starting point for a new project variant. See how to export this information in our linked in article

Cradle is Citrix Ready

Large or complex deployment, centrally managed? A number of our customers use Cradle deployed in a Citrix environment.

Cradle 7.1 has been certified for Citrix XenApp 7.6 and can be accessed through the Citrix Ready Marketplace

False Positives

Any software developers out there? We’re gathering experiences, encountered while developing and distributing software, of the eternal battle between virus protection, legitimate development and malware hackers. Please join the discussion here on LinkedIn or see it in the ‘Cradle – RM/SE Tool from 3SL’ group.

Many Roles

Do you sit as a person with many hats? Today you are Engineer, tomorrow you are QA Manager? In smaller organisations many people find they wear a number of hats, but like to keep their operations separate. Whether this is from an administration and traceability point of view, or just to prevent a change being made to data accidentally by a role with an elevated privilege (think sudo in Linux). It may also be the case that you want all these roles to exist in the future, but while the embryonic project is being set up and developed there is only a small team working on it. These roles are later handed over to new colleagues.

Cradle allows you to set up all the users individually and then provide a common alias or in Cradle terms a ‘Switch Identity’. The user can then switch between the various roles without the more time consuming logout – remember different password – login loop.

This is further illustrated in our LinkedIn discussion.

MBSE Buzz!

Model Based System Engineering is all the rage at the likes of the NASA / JPL symposium 25th – 27th Jan. Why not have a look at Cradle’s New MBSE Reference in our improved 3SL website.

Hints of the Month

Here are some links to helpful topics since our last newsletter, they should improve your Cradle experience:

Need to estimate your hardware requirements over the life of a project see the Database Size Calculator.

Want to show every user a special message before they start? Use the Login Messages and User Acknowledgement facility.

Happy about installing, IT want to know everything is OK, drop in at VirusTotal – see Check Cradle Files are Free From Viruses.

New to managing documents and statements you can Avoid Problems Opening Source Documents and Statements here.

Seeing an odd Word error ? Read all about it Word Error – Ambiguous name detected: TmpDDE.

Don’t worry if you computer raises a False Positive from Symantec and Trend Micro Office Scan.  AV Products will explain why.

The world still revolves round documents (paper or electronic) it’s an easy way for humans to deal with data, from Cradle you can Publish a Formal Document.

Installation issues? A few of articles that may help Installation Issues With .NET Framework, Installation Issue With Windows C Runtime, Installation Issue With Office 2016 / 365 / ClickToRun

From Now to Goal – Requirements Management


If you don’t know where you are currently, or how you arrived or what your ultimate goal is, how do you know in which direction to head? Requirements Management is a skill made easier by the full traceability of tools such as Cradle.

non directional ruler
From – Now – Goal

Build Me a Home

Starting a project without having a base understanding of the situation is a like building a house on unstable foundations. When the walls start to wander you’ll have no idea whether it was because the foundations were not level or were inappropriate or whether the direction of the wall is simply wrong.

Not knowing the ultimate goal could lead to a double height wall being built for a bungalow.

If you have no measure of how high the wall currently stands, you’ll have no chance of estimating how long it will take to finish.

Baseline, Elicit  and Measure

It may sound obvious when applied to the ‘simple’ task of  building a home. It appears ridiculous to start building without knowing whether our goal is a bungalow, house or flat. Yet many projects start with a very loose understanding  between stakeholders and producers and can head off in the wrong direction.


Do we know the current situation? Do the foundations exist, is this a single storey  build that needs extending with an upper floor or are we to start from scratch. Are there any assumptions we need to record, this project assumes that there bedrock will be found within a metre.

Elicit Requirements

Have we investigated what the customer / stakeholder actually wants? We could achieve the same m2 with two storeys or one larger floor. No point building a house and then finding mobility restrictions mean a bungalow was needed. Do they actually need a house. The baseline may show they actually have somewhere to live and all they need is some more storage. We could provide them with a shed and achieve their goal. This honesty in not selling them a new house may mean we have a smaller turnover, but a far better reputation. This should lead to repeat and new business as knowledgeable supplier.


This needs to be done at each stage. Internally we need to know that we are meeting the design. When do we stop building the walls? Externally we need to know that the customer is going to be happy. Milestones and intermediate reviews will prevent big surprises at the end. Whilst we want to avoid requirements creep, we have no intention to build a mansion for the price of a flat, customer requirements change and to remain agile, we need to build in steps to accommodate change.


If you can see the sense in this simplistic example you have every justification you need to correctly control and manage your project. If you can’t see the point, you’re likely to return to your back of envelope calculations and assumptions of what your customer needs. Good luck to you, but we’d prefer you to take steps to de-risk your plans. Put yourself on the receiving end, a 20 storey building each with a floor of 1m*1m and a ladder pinned to the outside. It fulfils the requirements, but you try sleeping in your new bedsit.