Clients and contractors often manage requirements using different requirements management (RM) systems, which complicates the coordination processes in distributed product development. The Requirements Interchange Format (ReqIF) enables the exchange of requirements between different tools based on an XML file. The objective of the ReqIF Implementor Forum (ReqIF IF) is to ensure the interoperability of the tools used for ReqIF exchange. This project group is where vendors come together to agree on conventions that go beyond the standard, conduct interoperability tests, discuss insights gained in the field and prepare benchmarks.
The activities pursued by the prostep ivip Association in the field of RM are supplemented by the ReqIF Workflow Forum (ReqIF WF), where user companies examine common exchange processes and scenarios. The aim of the project group is to promote wider dissemination and industrial application of the standard. Since 2018, the efforts of both forums have been supported by regular benchmarks that make it possible to evaluate the use of ReqIF when exchanging requirements and improve the interoperability of RM systems.
The ReqIF IF and ReqIF WF work together to monitor and process use cases and problems dealing with the standard format. This year they were able to resolve a number of open issues, such as how to handle numbered lists when exchanging requirements. The ReqIF IF has also solved a complicated problem involving the nesting of requirements content and has drawn up a corresponding recommendation, which will be published in the upcoming ReqIF Implementation Guide. Problems such as working in parallel and the stakeholder request clarification process were also solved.
Both forums work together continuously and also prepare the ReqIF benchmarks together. Two joint workshops were held last year to improve collaboration with the benchmark team. In these workshops, those involved removed obstacles encountered during the benchmark and presented (intermediate) results. The forum member Asaro Systems developed the ReqIF toolkit, which can be used to check the validity and completeness of ReqIF files in the benchmark.
A fourth benchmark for independently evaluating data exchange between RM systems using ReqIF, which was launched in 2021, was brought to a close in 2022. The benchmark also involved evaluating the supplier's response to the OEM's requirements package, which was made available in 2021, and a new exchange from the OEM to the supplier's RM system. Requirements and test cases were defined by the WF, which also managed the benchmark, while the vendors in the IF provided the software to be tested. A short version of the results of the benchmark is publicly available; a more detailed report is available to members of the prostep ivip Association and VDA.
Coordinating and executing this year's benchmark, which involved the most extensive test scenario to date with a total of 72 system combinations and over 1000 criteria to be evaluated, was an exciting and at the same time challenging task. The ongoing close cooperation with vendors was essential for successful execution of the benchmark and made an important contribution to optimizing ReqIF-based data exchange.
In 2023, the ReqIF WF will continue to work on existing use cases and define new use cases, while ReqIF will implement existing and new requirements such as exporting specific versions of specifications. Both project groups will also further refine previously defend criteria for the fifth benchmark, which will be launched this year. The test scenario, test data and test criteria are to be adapted based on the experience gained from the fourth benchmark and the requirements from the WF, with the aim of making targeted improvements to the interoperability of the RM systems in the context of ReqIF-based requirements exchange.
"Coordination of the three project groups, ReqIF WF, IF and BM, has been excellent, especially when problems cropped up unexpectedly. Particularly worthy of note here are the joint workshops, which improved collaboration significantly and speeded up decision-making."
"The results of the 2022 benchmark indicate that the loss-free exchange of requirements is not always possible. The reasons for this are limitations imposed by the RM systems themselves and non-ReqIF-compliant exchange files. We hope that the next benchmark will show participating vendors where there is further potential for improvement so that the exchange of requirements can be made even more efficient."