IBM Rational DOORS Review

Its multi-site exchange and collaboration are somewhat challenging, but it can be tailored to serve any life-cycle process flow.

Valuable Features

It is process agnostic, i.e. it can be tailored to serve any life-cycle process flow. It also integrates with the largest number of software and systems engineering tools in the marketplace.

Improvements to My Organization

It supports the capture, management and development of requirements, thereby reducing defects at the earliest stage of a project.

Room for Improvement

The underlying database engine is proprietary, therefore integration with other tools can only be achieved via the Rational DOORS DXL API. The newer version, Rational DOORS Next Generation, will fix that.

Use of Solution

I started using it at v5.2.

Deployment Issues

Organizations that do not have a requirements engineering process in place are generally in for a big surprise when they deploy Rational DOORS, since it does not implement any particular process or methodology.

Stability Issues

Partitions are one complex feature of Rational DOORS that are not particularly robust and is generally avoided, unless the project database is administered by a very proficient and experienced administrator.

Scalability Issues

It is based on a single, centralized database server, making multi-site exchange and collaboration somewhat challenging.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

Customer service suffered everytime Rational DOORS changed its organizational structure (i.e. from QSS to Telelogic to IBM). Also, the quality of service suffered when it was outsourced to India. Since then, however, IBM has improved it considerably.

Technical Support:

Richard Watson's team has provided Rational DOORS technical support from day one. If it could be explained, they would explain it. If it could be fixed, they fixed it.

Previous Solutions

I've not used a previous solution, but today, I'm investigating the Eclipse Requirements Management Framework (RMF) for small entities/teams that cannot afford a power tool like Rational DOORS.

Initial Setup

Installation is straightforward. Project start-up can take some time if an organization or project does not have an institutionalized process around which they have tailored DOORS usage. Also, if tailoring requires DXL scripting, the organization or project must have the expertise available. Many projects/organizations stay away from customization for that reason. Using Rational DOORS integrations with other tools can add another layer of complexity.

Implementation Team

I have implemented Rational DOORS projects both as an external consultant and as an in-house expert.


The best money invested on a project is always on requirements engineering, and an ROI of 10-20:1 is not uncommon.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

For small teams, node-locked licenses are the least expensive by far. As the project team grows, i.e. 10+, one flex licence per five team members becomes more cost-effective.

Other Solutions Considered

Over time, I have tried every other ARM tool out there for various customers and kept going back to Rational DOORS.

Other Advice

If you do not have a resident Rational DOORS expertise, invest some up-front money to secure the assistance of one to help with deployment, tailoring and training,

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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