Friday, July 27, 2007

Leveraging DOORS Requirements in a Distributed Environment

These days, organizations are increasingly mandated to have auditable, automated traceability which links requirements to development, change management, and testing.

However, globally distributed environments ("Global Development and Delivery", or GDD) are another prevalent trend. In a not-so-hypothetical situation, requirements are managed by a team in the United States. Development and testing may be performed elsewhere, sometimes in another city within the United States, but more often in an entirely different country.

If we examine the tools being used for the software development lifecycle, it's usually Telelogic DOORS or IBM Rational RequisitePro for requirements. Often IBM Rational ClearQuest is being used for change management. Mercury QuickTest Pro, Loadrunner, and Winrunner own the testing space.

For a distributed team to leverage requirements throughout the lifecycle, it needs to find a way to (a) allow distributed workers access to requirements, (b) allow teams to respond to changes in requirements, and (c) establish automated traces between requirements to other development artifacts: tests, defects, enhancement requests, etc.

Telelogic DOORS is hands-down the tool of choice for requirements management. It's a great tool for the task, but unfortunately it performs very poorly over the WAN. It doesn't have a great web interface. It doesn't have any sort of multi-site replication capabilities. In terms of training users, it can be a bit cryptic and hard to learn for new users or users who are generally used to working with Word documents for requirements. Lastly, it's extremely expensive -- prohibitively expensive for companies who have built globally distributed teams to save money on labor. These companies would save money on labor, but ultimately spend the difference and more on licensing.

Is Citrix the anwer? It seems to work fairly well for distributed teams who are just using Citrix for DOORS. However, Citrix costs money too. More importantly, tools which are running on a local desktop cannot integrate with tools being used through a remote desktop window.

Enter IBM Rational ClearQuest. It is fairly ubiquitous in organizations. It is extremely flexible and customizable. It has security contexts and such for controlling access to records. It has a decent web interface. As of Version 7.0, IBM has added free, built-in test management ("ClearQuest Test Management", or CQTM) capability. And... it has multi-site replication capabilities.

Ring-Zero Software ClearTrace for DOORS is absolutely the best way to tie everything together. One one level, it's a scaleable, bidirectional integration between IBM Rational ClearQuest and Telelogic DOORS. However, its value really becomes apparent when it is applied to the Global Development and Delivery paradigm. It leverages ClearQuest as a vehicle for distributing DOORS requirements to distributed teams, while also maintaining automated traceability between requirements and other artifacts. Users are actually interacting through ClearQuest, and interface they likely already know how to use. It doesn't require testers to install DOORS on their desktops or learn how to use DOORS. However, if they have DOORS installed locally, it leverages it as well. When ClearTrace for DOORS is combined with other Ring-Zero products, such as Test Adapter for Mercury QuickTest Pro or Test Adapter for WinRunner, it shines even more. These additional integrations allow users of Mercury's testing tools leverage DOORS requirements as well, and from the same familiar ClearQuest interface.

To learn more about these solutions, please visit Ring-Zero Software.