What is requirement traceability matrix RTM in Project Management

What is requirement traceability matrix RTM in Project Management?

Last updated on 06th Oct 2020, Artciles, Blog

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Requirements Traceability Matrix – RTM

The Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a tool to help ensure that the project’s scope, requirements, and deliverables remain “as is” when compared to the baseline. Thus, it “traces” the deliverables by establishing a thread for each requirement- from the project’s initiation to the final implementation.

The RTM can be used during all phases of a project to:

  • Track all requirements and whether or not they are being met by the current process and design
  • Assist in the creation of the RFP, Project Plan Tasks, Deliverable Documents, and Test Scripts
  • Help ensure that all system requirements have been met during the Verification process.

The Matrix should be created at the very beginning of a project because it forms the basis of the project’s scope and incorporates the specific requirements and deliverables that will be produced.

The Matrix is considered to be bi-directional. It tracks the requirement “forward” by examining the output of the deliverables and “backward” by looking at the business requirement that was specified for a particular feature of the product. The RTM is also used to verify that all requirements are met and to identify changes to the scope when they occur.

Requirements <-> RFP <-> Design/Task <-> Deliverables <-> Verification

The use of the RTM enhances the scope management process. It also assists with the process control and quality management. RTM can also be thought of as a process of documenting the connection and relationships between the initial requirements of the project and the final product or service produced.

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How do you create an RTM?

In each of the steps shown above, each requirement must be unique and clearly defined. The requirement is then part of each critical component of the project. The references throughout the entire process must be consistent and unique. In order to insure that this occurs, the Matrix traces each requirement and creates a relationship between each of the processes.

  • Req #: Requirement Number; for each project requirement, begin to list them on the RTM in a numerical order and group them by function.
  • Name: Enter the name and brief description of the requirement.
  • RFP #: Request For Proposal (RFP); specify the identification number of the requirement as listed in the RFP.
  • DDD #: Deliverable Definition Document (Also referred to as the Deliverable Expectation Document- DED); use the RFP requirement number as a reference for the DDD that is created for the requirement.
  • PPT #: List the MS Project Subtask and Task numbers that are associated with the requirement.
  • TS #: Test scripts should be prepared for the actual testing process.
  • Verification: Use this field to record completion of the signoff process.


Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is the basic building block for any software project. Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is a document in a software development project which is used to validate all the requirements and their corresponding test cases. This Ensures that there is no miss in a project and all the requirements are covered while testing which is the basic goal of any testing project. In this topic, we are going to learn about Requirement Traceability Matrix (Scope).

The main focus of any testing team is to ensure the maximum test coverage; it simply means that everything in a project needs to be tested and Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) helps to ensure the same. The actual goal is to cover 100% scenarios/test cases. Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is generally in a tabular form which basically involves to and fro relationships between requirements and test cases. Requirements are basically categorized into two sections:-

a) Functional requirements: These are basically the requirements that describe the behavior of the system. It has a relation to the functional aspect of the system.

b) Non-functional requirements: It is related to the performance characteristic of the system.

Importance of Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM)

  • The prime motive of every tester is to understand the client’s requirement and ensure that the output produced is defect free.
  • In order to achieve it, one needs to understand the requirement thoroughly and create positive and negative test cases.
  • In order to ensure that all the possible scenarios are considered in testing, we need the Requirement Traceability Matrix.
  • This matrix is a complete summary of any project which is typically a worksheet containing all the requirements with its possible test scenarios. It also contains the current status of the testing.
  • This helps the testing team understand the various levels of testing done for any particular product.

Parameters in Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM)

The very basic Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) contains the below fields:-

  • 1. Unique ID for Requirement
  • 2. Requirement statement
  • 3. Type of Requirement
  • 4. Description of the Requirement
  • 5. Test Cases with its actual status
  • To design Status as well as execution status for the specific test case
  • Status of various phases of testing like IAT and UAT can also be captured in this matrix.
  • Defects found and current status can also be mentioned in the same matrix.

This kind of matrix is the complete sheet containing data for all the testing activities.

Types of Traceability Test Matrix

Here are the Types of Traceability Test Matrix given below:

1) Forward

  • Requirements of the project are mapped with the test cases.
  • With this, the project goes smoothly.
  • Ensures thorough testing of the requirements.

2) Reverse or Backward

  • It is used to map the test cases with the requirements.
  • Ensures that the project scope is not extended by the addition of new functionality or features.

3) Bi-directional which is Forward + Backward

  • When we create a document as a combination of forwarding Traceability and Backward Traceability it is termed as Bi-directional Traceability – where the mapping is done from the requirements to test cases and from test cases to the requirements.
  • It’s good to have the test cases for each of the requirements and vice versa.

How to Create a Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM)?

Here are the following points for creating Requirement Traceability Matrix


1) Target Goal

Before we start anything we need to set the goal which gives us a clear picture of the task and in this case, it will help to know the purpose of the Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM).

2) Facts Collection

  • As the goal is decided, now the artifacts are needed in order to accomplish the goal.
  • Following artifacts are needed in order to build a Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM):- Requirements, Test Cases, Test Results and Bugs.
  • The next step is to collect these artifacts. The latest version of the requirements is required and also corresponding test cases need to be collected from the testing team.
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3) To prepare the traceability matrix template

Now the excel sheet is to be created and each artifact should be added in different columns.

4) Addition of the facts

  • Now we can start adding all the artifacts in the excel sheet created.
  • Need to ensure that each requirement, test case, and the bug should have unique ids.

5) Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) Update

  • This is the continuous process until the end of the project lifecycle.
  • Any change in the requirement needs to be updated here.

Advantages of Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM)

  • 1. Highlights the missing requirements or document inconsistencies.
  • 2. All the possible test scenarios are covered.
  • 3. Shows overall defects and execution status with alignment to Business Requirements.
  • 4. Helps in proper versioning of the required documents.
  • 5. Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) helps in creating a snapshot to identify the gaps in the test case coverage from the project requirement.

Scope of Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) in any software project

  • 1. The below diagram depicts the importance of Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) in any software project. Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) helps in maintaining the record for each and every update/change in the project and hence creates an easy to track it whenever required.
  • 2. From the above diagram, we can easily figure out that each phase of the project is updated in the Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM).
  • 3. Although Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is just an ordinary Excel spreadsheet that contains the status of the requirements, test cases, design specifications, bugs, etc.
  • 4. One can tell the complete status of the software project by looking at this sheet.
  • 5. Also, just awareness of Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) is not enough if one is managing the requirements in a software development project but it is also important to have a thorough go through to the Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM) document throughout the course of the software project.
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Requirement Traceability Matrix is the means to map and trace all of the client’s requirements with the test cases and discovered defects. It is a single document that serves the main purpose that no test cases are missed and thus every functionality of the application is covered and tested.

Good ‘Test Coverage’ which is planned ahead of time prevents repetitive tasks in testing phases and Defect leakages. A high defect count indicates that testing is done well and thus ‘Quality’ of the application is going up. Similarly, a very low defect count indicates testing is not done up to the mark and this hampers the ‘Quality’ of the application in a negative way.

If the Test Coverage is done thoroughly then a low defect count can be justified and this defect count can be considered as supporting statistics and not a primary one. Quality of an application is termed as ‘Good’ or ‘Satisfying’ when the Test Coverage is maximized and defect count is minimized.

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