Traceability Matrix in Software Testing

In an agile development environment, programmers, testers and business analysts work as a single team. The business analysts prepare comprehensive business requirement documents (BRD) to define the project needs as well as customer needs and expectations clearly. While evaluating the applications, the QA professionals refer to the BRD to plan and manage software testing process efficiently. But they perform a variety of tests to assess various aspects of the software application. Hence, it becomes essential to trace the business requirements to various tests to ensure that no business requirements remain unfulfilled.

Requirements traceability matrix makes it easier for testers to trace business requirements to the tests performed by them. The matrix even helps testing professional to enhance test coverage, identify the missing functionality, and track test execution status. Also, the testers can refer to the traceability matrix to identify the test cases to be updated to meet changes in business requirements. However, traceability matrix like test delivers differs from one project to another. The manager has option to choose from various types of traceability matrix. Likewise, he can also prepare requirement traceability matrix with varied fields.

Different Types of Traceability Matrix in Software Testing

Forward Traceability Matrix:

This type of traceability matrix business requirements to test cases. The mapping helps testers to ensure that each business requirement is tested thoroughly. Also, the testers can use the matrix to check if the testing project is progressing in the predefined direction.

Backward/Reverse Traceability Matrix:

Backward or reverse traceability matrix maps test cases to business requirements. Hence, it becomes easier for testers to ensure that they are not testing any functionality which is not included in the business requirements additionally. Also, they can streamline the entire testing process without putting extra effort.

Bidirectional Traceability Matrix:

This form of traceability matrix maps business requirements to test cases as well as maps test cases to business requirements. As it combines forward and backward traceability matrixes, it becomes easier for testers to ensure that the test cases cover all business requirements and each business requirement is tested thoroughly.


In addition to defining the scope of the software testing project, traceability matrix also helps testers to map test cases to business requirements and business requirements to test cases. Hence, the manger must prepare traceability matrix before the project starts. He still has option to keep the traceability matrix forward, backward, or bidirectional. However, the smarter test managers opt for bidirectional traceability matrix to examine output of deliverables, while creating test cases to cover business requirements required by a particular feature or functionality of the software application.

Important Parameters

As noted earlier, a manager has option to choose from three distinct types of traceability matrixes. Likewise, he can keep the traceability matrix either simple or complex by including varied fields. For instance, the manager can prepare a simple traceability matrix by including only Requirement IDD and Test Case ID. However, he also has option to include additional fields or parameters in the traceability matrix like requirement type, requirement description, test phase, trace to design specification, trace to test script, test case result and document owner. Also, he can include unit test cases, integration test cases, system test cases, and user acceptance test cases in the traceability matrix.

Key Steps

The format and parameters of a traceability matrix many differ from one project to another. It is always important for the manager to choose the type of traceability matrix and include the relevant parameters to test all business requirements thoroughly. While preparing the traceability matrix, manager must list down requirements from BRD and add unique ID to requirements. After assigning Requirement IDs, the manager need to list down the functional requirements for each requirement. Finally, he has to map Test Case IDs to specific functional requirements in the Test Case or Test Scenario document.

On the whole, traceability matrix in software testing, as an important test document, helps software qa testing professionals to trace and map business requirements to test cases. The manager can prepare traceability matrix without using any robust tools. He even has option to choose from three types of traceability matrix – forward, backward/reverse and bidirectional. Also, he can include varied parameters or fields in the traceability matrix. However, it is important to keep the traceability matrix flexibility enough to update the baseline document each time the business requirement changes.

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