- viewing the corresponding issue or changelist(s) - manual copy and paste of an identifier, or requiring the user to search in the other system really increases resistance and slows things down.
Task-Based Development (TBD)
Use of Principles of Agile Version Control: From OOD to TBD builds upon this foundation by helping to organize the structure of work in the version-control system in a manner that is easily aligned to the change tracking system. Tasks are the common thread linking work-requests to work-outputs. And if all the work-products created across the development lifecycle (requirements, models, code, tests, etc.) are in the version control repositories and are connected in this manner, then the capability to trace activities across lifecycle activities and artifact has been provided.
Test-Driven Development (TDD)
Use of Test-Driven-Development (TDD) in combination with Task-based development can provide even stronger traceability support. This is because TDD basically slices the work up into very small, full lifecycle activities where each task touches only the artifacts needed to fully implement a requirement at a time. Contrast this with a strict waterfall approach where the activities that document requirements are separate from the design activities, and the code activities. In TDD, the same activity (and its ID) can easily link together all the lifecycle artifacts from requirements to design, code and tests.
Of course, this only works to the extent where you can start TDD. In many larger projects, a significant amount of previous requirements specification and decomposition may still be necessary before TDD can commence. But even in these cases, the requirements decomposition activity creates larger-grained clusters which are then easily traced across the lifecycle via TDD and TBD. We should also mention Behavior-Driven Development (BDD). BDD is an evolution of TDD that also came from the Agile community in an attempt to address some of the weaknesses of TDD. It too can be a very effective means of providing this same form of traceability.
Still, there is lots of work to be done in querying and collating that information to produce any required reports, and once must be careful to strike a balance between constraining processes for the ease of tracing versus not being able to trace them. This is where databases and tracking tools give us the automation benefits that index cards alone simply cannot provide.
Simple Tools: Wikis, and Wiki-based Specification Frameworks
It is often too easy to go overboard with hi-tech tools and their capabilities. Many tools today provide awesomely powerful environments specific to artifacts in just one portion of the overall lifecycle: requirements management, test-management, code management, model-driven design and code generation. Yet they also add a lot of painful complexity when each of those tools uses its own archiving formats and versioning mechanisms. It may be easy to trace between related artifacts in the same repository and lifecycle, but tracing across repositories and lifecycle artifacts can quickly become an even bigger headache than a very primitive means of simply creating all those artifacts in simpler, text-based formats in the same version control tool.
For this reason, a simple but powerful, text-based wiki-web with versioning capabilities can be a very capable traceability tool linking code artifacts with other text-based artifacts that can be readily created in a hierarchical fashion with simple hyperlinks to indicate traces to other related information. Building even more upon this are acceptance-testing frameworks like FIT and FitNesse.