Lean-Agile Traceability: Strategies and Solutions


Traceability should introduce no friction to the development process, particularly if it is to win over agilists. Focusing on task-based and test-driven development, continuous integration, single-piece flow, and single-source information with a minimum of intermediate artifacts can make it easier to use with many tools.

Combining basic version-control tool integration with build & test automation (with event logging, notification, and subscription) can automatically log and track tracing information from these activities, which can then be readily queried or scripted to produce necessary traceability reports.

A simple wiki-mechanism (such as Trac, FIT, FitNesse), to define and organize project terms/concepts, use-cases or requests, and related project content can go a long way toward achieving single-sourcing of information with appropriate linkages for subsequent querying & reporting. Use of readily available search-engines on an existing project's knowledgebase (project wikis, blogs, mail-lists, code, specs, docs, tests, models, etc.), along with consistent use of a project's terminology, can fill in many of the blanks for tracing across the lifecycle and its artifacts.

Promising approaches, such as event-based traceability, along with more sophisticated information-retrieval methods, can help automate this and, indeed, have been implemented in several tools, thus raising the bar for the industry in this area.


About the author

Brad Appleton's picture Brad Appleton

Brad Appleton is a software CM/ALM solution architect and lean/agile development champion at a large telecommunications company. Currently he helps projects and teams adopt and apply lean/agile development and CM/ALM practices and tools. He is coauthor of the book Software Configuration Management Patterns, a columnist for the CMCrossroads and AgileConnection communities at Techwell.com,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at blog.bradapp.net.

About the author

Steve Berczuk's picture Steve Berczuk

Steve Berczuk is a Principal Engineer and Scrum Master at Fitbit. The author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration, he is a recognized expert in software configuration management and agile software development. Steve is passionate about helping teams work effectively to produce quality software. He has an M.S. in operations research from Stanford University and an S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and is a certified, practicing ScrumMaster. Contact Steve at steve@berczuk.com or visit berczuk.com and follow his blog at blog.berczuk.com.

About the author

Robert Cowham's picture Robert Cowham

Robert Cowham has long been interested in software configuration management while retaining the attitude of a generalist with experience and skills in many aspects of software development. A regular presenter at conferences, he authored the Agile SCM column within the CM Journal together with Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk. His day job is as Services Director for Square Mile Systems whose main focus is on skills and techniques for infrastructure configuration management and DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) - applying configuration management principles to hardware documentation and implementation as well as mapping ITIL services to the underlying layers.

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