Leveraging DOORS Requirements in a Distributed Environment

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 in the software development lifecycle, it's usually IBM Rational DOORS or IBM Rational RequisitePro for requirements. Often IBM Rational ClearQuest is being used for change management. HP Mercury QuickTest Pro, Loadrunner, and Winrunner dominate the testing space.

For a distributed team to leverage requirements throughout the lifecycle, it needs to find a way to:

In many industries, IBM Rational DOORS is the standard tool of choice for requirements management. It's a great tool for the task, but unfortunately it has some important limitations when it comes to distributed global development. For instance, it performs poorly over the WAN. It doesn't have a great web interface. It lacks multi-site replication capabilities. In terms of training users, its interface can be a bit stoic and it is often difficult to learn for new users or users who are generally used to working with Microsoft 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.

However, IBM Rational ClearQuest provides an effective way to work around most of these limitations. It is fairly ubiquitous in large organizations. It is extremely flexible and customizable. It has security contexts and such for controlling access to records. It has a decent web interface. Most importantly, it has multi-site replication capabilities. The ClearQuest multi-site capabilties are used to propagate and synchronize defects, enhancements, testing artifacts, and other records between distributed sites. All that's missing is a way to extend this functionality to requirements.

ClearTrace for DOORS provides this capability, and it is absolutely the best way to tie a distributed development process together. One one level, ClearTrace is 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 users to install DOORS on their desktops or learn how to use DOORS. However, if they have DOORS installed locally, ClearTrace leverages it as well.