If you've only worked on small projects, you may not even realize that the
"requirements management" tool category exists. If you've worked on large projects,
though, you know how important it is to keep track of all the requirements:
what needs to be done, who's doing it, how things are going, where the dependencies
are, and so on. I've seen this done with whiteboards, Excel worksheets, or tediously-updated
Word documents in various shops. If you build a lot of software, though, you'll
find a requirements management tool like CaliberRM to be a great addition to
Basically, this product is a multi-user database with a specific purpose. It
tracks requirements in a hierarchical tree, and understands that there are dependencies
between them. You can enter a bunch of information for each requirement, including
who's responsible, what the risks are, what needs to be done, and so on. You
can also track discussion for each one, as well as register to be notified when
there's a change to particular requirements that you're interested in.
Requirements can be exported to nice Word documents for the boss, as well as
some other reports. You can also integrate CaliberRM with other products such
as TestDirector, to make sure your testing program checks all your requirements.
New features in this version include .NET integration (in addition to the existing
COM and Java links) so you can hook other tools in to the requirements and improved
support for glossaries, which allow you to define project-specific vocabulary
that automatically links to requirement descriptions.
I had one minor annoyance installing the product (it didn't like that I was
logged on with a DNS name, thanks to a 15-character login limit), but after
I logged off and back in with a Windows user name it was smooth sailing. CaliberRM
works well and could quickly trace requirements back and forth, even in a fairly
large test project. And the open SDK is a nice touch, too - this is the sort
of data that needs to be available, rather than locked up. So if your current
requirement management system is feeling strained (or if you spilled coffee
on it and ruined it), this is worth a look.
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.