By: Nicholas Mistretta
If you’ve read the first introductory article in this series, you already know what requirements gathering is and why it’s so important for the success of any new product or project. In the last article, we broke down the requirements gathering process step-by-step. And in this article, we’re going to introduce you to 10 requirements gathering tools you can use to increase your chance of success when it comes to gathering those all-important requirements, no matter the project.
What are requirements gathering tools?
Requirements gathering tools are simply resources that you can use to complete the requirements gathering process more easily, more quickly, and more successfully. Remember our chef from the introductory guide? She would have a hard time pulling off a successful wedding reception without knowing about dangerous food allergies of the guests?
Why are requirements gathering tools important?
Do you recall the infamous utterance from the last article when a project fails? The requirements were not clear to us. Requirements gathering tools ensure that each step of the process is on-point, thorough, and complete.
In our step-by-step guide, you learned a few things that these tools will help you with, like:
- Figuring out the goals and objectives of the stakeholders.
- Documenting everything; a step that is often undervalued.
- The importance of clarity, transparency, and avoiding assumptions.
- How to listen, including when nothing is being said.
- The difference between a goal and a wish list.
- Getting approval and confirmation explicitly.
- Remaining agile and understanding that changes will come.
Different projects require different tools, just as different projects have different requirements. Our stakeholder in the introductory guide – the bride’s mother – will express things differently than the stakeholder in our last article – the young girl who wanted a swing set. So, there are no certainties when it comes to requirements gathering and this includes the words and body language used to express those requirements.
A final word before we get into our tools: These will go above and beyond common tools like email, Microsoft Excel, or Google Docs. Each of these tools comes with limits and common problems. Have you ever had an email string go 50 deep and then tried to find something specific in it? That is beyond frustrating and deserving of a few four-letter words.
The tools I just mentioned are basic tools. The tools below are more appropriate software systems that will be better at:
- Handling approvals.
- Documenting changes.
- Managing relationships between requirements.
- Removing ambiguity, assumptions, and wishful thinking.
- Making certain all requirements are clear, realistic, and agreed upon.
Since requirements gathering is such a vital process to starting any new project, you’ll want to choose the best tool for the job.
Top 10 requirements gathering tools
Here is our round up of the top 10 requirement gathering tools you should consider in 2021. Let’s start at #10.
10. Jama Software
Jama Software provides a platform that works well with software development and testing. It is a suitable option for teams that are building complex systems and products. Some of the more important features of this platform include:
- It improves cycle times and efficiency
- Reduces redundancy
- Ensures high-quality
- It has an intuitive, browser-based interface
Jama’s platform allows teams to align hardware, stakeholders, and firmware. It’s flexible enough to support different developmental methodologies. And it provides more accurate capture, communication, requirements, goals, and progress.
9. codeBeamer ALM
CodeBeamer ALM is easy-to-use and incorporates API integrations. It’s a good out-of-the-box requirements gathering tool, but it also has some customization options. Some areas where this platform excels include:
- Risk management
- Product line management
- Q&A testing
- Tracking interdependencies
CodeBeamer ALM is what’s known as an Application Lifestyle Management platform. Its platform is integrated, collaborative, and flexible.
Many organizations choose Accompa’s platform simply because it is easy to use and implement. What it lacks in robust features, it makes up for by being user-friendly. And they do add new features from time to time.
Some reasons to choose this requirements gathering tool include:
- Requirements traceability feature
- Discussion boards
- Alerts for collaborators
- Custom views, fields, and user roles
If your business requires a more comprehensive platform, you’ll likely want to look elsewhere. However, for many small businesses, Accompa has enough useful features to satisfy their needs.
Caliber is a good requirements gathering tool for storyboards and simulations. It works well for testing roles, processes, and requirements. It also has great visual features for modeling requirements. Other notable Caliber features include:
- Traceable requirements tools
- It’s more visually interactive
- Easy user access controls
- A collection of the most useful features
Caliber uses a drag-and-drop system for reading requirements. As far as requirements gathering tools go, it’s a good standalone tool, and it’s easier to use than others. However, it doesn’t integrate well with other requirements gathering tools.
6. Perforce Helix RM
This requirements gathering tool works well with large, distributed teams. It’s often chosen by companies looking for better traceability and test case management features. Some other reasons to use Perforce Helix RM include
- It’s scalable
- It handles large files easily
- Responsive customer service
- It incorporates many useful features
The one major knock on this platform is that, while powerful, it does take a lot of time to set up and learn. Implementation can be difficult. In general, it’s not the most user-friendly requirements gathering tool. But to make up for these difficulties, Perforce Helix RM has some video tutorials that users may find helpful and will most likely need.
Pearls is a requirements gathering tool that excels when it comes to providing useful team collaboration features. It easily creates user roles, backlogs, and is sufficient in specifications management. It’s also affordable and has a variety of features that include:
- It generates Word documents with just one click
- Comments and notification settings for member activity
- A flexible pricing system
- Easily generates requirements and specifications documents
Pearls is more suitable for small businesses and even has a free Starter Plan for three or fewer users. It also has a scalable pricing system for larger businesses. And like most requirements gathering tools, it includes features for managing stakeholders and defining project goals.
ReqSuite sells itself as being highly customizable, but it is more accurate to say that it walks a fine line between simplicity and customization. It easily defines relevant workflows. It also easily creates use cases and reusable requirements. Reasons for choosing ReqSuite as your requirements gathering tool include:
- Many definable templates
- Visual modeling tools
- Numerous collaboration features
- It’s easy to navigate
Ease of use may be the best reason to choose ReqSuite, as it’s not too complex and the tutorials are genuinely useful. However, it does have fewer capabilities when compared to more robust requirements gathering tools.
Visure is a good requirements gathering tool specifically in the area of configuration management. It easily keeps track of traceability, verification, and defects. Some of the more popular features that customers will enjoy are:
- It’s user-friendly
- It’s particularly useful for traceability management
- It has a streamlined requirements review process
- It offers a centralized requirements platform
Visure can support a variety of lifecycle processes. You can integrate it with Microsoft products like Word and Excel. And this requirements gathering tool offers compliance templates for a variety of international safety standards.
This requirements gathering tool is especially useful for reporting and visualization. The Orcanos platform easily creates and edits specification documents and product requirements, though its collaboration features are pretty basic. A few reasons why users choose Orcanos include:
- Good customer support
- Real-time dashboards
- Navigation features that seem intuitive
- It easily imports and exports Word documents
Orcanos does have better reporting features than other requirements gathering tools on this list, but it also has a lack of pre-built integrations. You’ll also need to upgrade your plan for some additional features like customer complaint management, quality control, risk assessment, and others.
One reason many people choose MindManager as their go-to requirements gathering tool is the ease by which you can create a central dashboard of information that segments data visually and includes links and attachments to expand on-page content. A few other MindManager features that clients find useful include:
- It can be easily sorted using tags and filters
- Its highly adaptable layout fits a variety of needs
- Customer support that is second to none
- It allows teams to collaborate in real-time on maps via MS Teams
MindManager makes it easy for teams to collaborate on requirements documents using co-editing (allowing multiple people to edit the document at once). The MindManager layout can also be adapted as needed to fit how key stakeholders digest information, which is useful to remedy any disconnect between team members and stakeholders. And it has powerful visualization tools and mind mapping software.
So, there you have it – our 100 percent objective and unbiased review of the 10 best requirements gathering tools available in 2021. Are you surprised that our tool landed in the number one slot, or would you be more surprised if it hadn’t?
Of course, we think MindManager is the best requirements gathering tool on the market, and it’s just a coincidence that it happens to be just that.