Basically a traceability matrix is a method of displaying the requirements coverage by tests. On the left side of a chart, graph, or piece of paper you may have a list of all the requirements in your application, while across the top you may have a list of all the tests written or to be written against your application. In each of the cells where a test and requirement intersect you would indicate with a check mark, or other symbol if the requirement is covered by that test. This is a simplified method and there are many other ways of determining coverage, but it works. Note a single test may address more than one requirement as well a one requirement may be addressed by multiple tests either directly or indirectly.
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
~ Winston Churchill ~
A Trace-ability matrix can also be used in this linking of requirements to the when items were tested for coverage and against what versions of code/documentation used.
If you are sticking with the excel option keep it as simple as possible as requried by your context - these can rapidly become large and very resource intensive to maintain - At that stage migration to a tool is worthwhile.
I use the various emoticons for these, Smiley for a requirement covered and passed in testing, A sad face for one that is cover but failed in test and a frown for ones not yet tested...it works for me better then the usual green (pass) Red (fail) used in a lot of Tools "traffic lights" systems as I am colour blind [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]
Agile Testers of the World UNIT!
Rex Black's excellent book "managing the test process" has some excellent examples of templates that work and can be customised, they are also downloadable from his website, for a fee and the correct adherence to the licence agreement/ terms of usage at: