The biggest benefit traceability offers semiconductor engineers is the ability to analyze the impact of changes when they occur.
Question: So why don’t more semiconductor engineering teams employ traceability?
Answer: Because they don’t know about traceability’s key strength and long-term value: Being able to contextualize months, years and volumes of detailed discussions—about where a requirement originated and whether to accept, reject or modify it; or questions concerning change management and the impact of a particular change—and trace them all back to decisions.
With the exception of teams developing technologies for regulatory compliance, the value of tracing highlevel requirements to low-level requirements often isn’t considered or understood, although it should be.
Teams that use documents-based methods to manage product development struggle with traceability; there’s just too much to define. Teams that use tools such as DOORS aren’t able to utilize traceability, either.
Gartner highlights one of the main reasons companies struggle to achieve the benefits of traceability:
“The most widely adopted tools for requirements continue to be general document software such as Microsoft Office or Google Docs (40% to 50% of the market) due to cost, availability and familiarity. Yet these often lead to poorly managed requirements, thus eliminating and exceeding any cost benefit the tools themselves have. Requirements end up captured in a variety of documents and spreadsheets supplemented by post-it notes in unmanaged versions with no traceability or reuse. This creates a more costly user acceptance testing cycle, both in the time to execute as well as remediation of issues found late in the process, where they are far more costly to address.”
Gartner Market Guide for Software Requirements Definition and Management Solutions 2014
Documents might suffice—if all requirements are equal, and if your team, project and scope are so small that you’re the only person who needs to know how the product you’re building is impacted.
But it’s likely that those tools harm more than they help. Here’s what that spreadsheet on your desktop can’t do:
- Manage the complex web of traceability to understand the relationships between requirements and the people who are responsible for them
- Quickly find who and what are impacted by changes to the product
- Ensure that each requirement is validated and verified, that the completed product delivers what was asked for and that the product has been thoroughly tested
The tool you choose and how you use it influences how efficiently and effectively you’re able to tackle complex challenges and support engineering and business.
The Top 3 Bottom-Line Benefits of Traceability
- Connect verification specification to requirements
- Connect product requirements to stakeholder requirements
- Change management: Understand the impact of requirement changes when they happen
In many industries, especially those tied to regulatory compliance, traceability isn’t just a best practice, it’s mandated. This paper outlines five ways traceability, integrated with a modern requirements management and validation and verification solution, helps semiconductor engineers take advantage of traceability
You just received mid-project feedback, and a high-level business requirement needs to change. How will this change impact the specification your engineers are working on right now? How will it impact scope for the upcoming release?
QA just found a show-stopping bug and you’re two weeks away from launch. Do you ship with the known bug or delay the launch? Who is working on that feature? Who else needs to be notified and weigh in on the decision? What else does it affect?
How do you deal with these challenges? Traceability—but if the path of connections isn’t easy to create and follow, it adds to your problems.
How Traceability Works for Teams in Jama
Jama’s core functionality—traceability, change management and requirements management, verification and validation—can be easily configured to meet common quality principles including functional safety standards and processes such as IEC 61508, ISO 26262 and SPICE.
With a consistent process, structured templates and a modern requirements management tool, much of the process can be streamlined to benefit to your organization:
|Minimize Risk||Improve Quality|
|Grow Productivity||Increase Visibility|
|Control Scope Changes||Reduce Development Costs|
|Complete Test Coverage||Accelerate Innovation|
As defined by INCOSE (International Council of Systems Engineering): “Traceability documents how the formal requirements are intended to meet the stakeholder objectives and achieve stakeholder agreement.”
Trace relationships are the links between items within the scope of a project.
Upstream relationships, aka “backward traceability,” look at the links from detailed functional requirements back up to the original customer need and high-level requirements captured. Following relationships upstream ensures that the evolving product remains on track to meet product goals and customer needs. Tracing relationships upstream helps avoid scope creep.
Downstream relationships, aka “forward traceability,” look at the links from high-level requirements to detailed functional requirements, test cases, tasks, defects and other items that satisfy them. Downstream relationships ensure that nothing has been missed. Downstream and upstream are simply ways to examine relationships from different perspectives.
A Coverage Report summarizes the trace relationships. It’s used for looking for high-level requirements that have not be satisfied, and low-level requirements that are orphaned.
Using Impact Analysis, you can view the full traceability for any item to see how it links to other requirements, specifications and tests. You can analyze relationships to determine the scope of an initiating change.
Used for change control, a detailed history of each requirement and other items is documented and stored in a unified system of record, enabling complete audit trails used over the life cycle of the requirement. Version histories are required for industry compliance in specific industries.
Suspect Links help manage the impact of requirement changes. A trace relationship (or link) becomes suspect after an upstream requirement in the relationship changes. A Suspect Links report is often used along with Impact Analysis for assessing impact before making a change.
ISO 9001 concerns the management of the requirements that your systems’ standards must satisfy. As the International Organization for Standardization states, this standard “helps ensure that customers get consistent, good quality products and services, which in turn brings many business benefits.”
“Jama is instrumental in allowing us to document requirements and define the scope of our projects. It’s allowed us to formally document our applications from change requests to formal functional/ performance requirements and ensure traceability of requirements.”
Jonathan Kobaly, CDG-Inmedius, a Boeing Company
The Five Best Practices for Simplifying Traceability Using Jama
- Trace relationships to represent systematic decomposition and test coverage
- Ensure traceability reporting and proper coverage using Coverage Explorer
- Assess the impact of change before it occurs with Impact Analysis
- Document changes for complete visibility and a detailed audit trail with Version History
- Stay synced with Stream comments. By referencing people and items through @mentions, you can easily track comments through filters and history
1. TRACE RELATIONSHIPS
As in many aspects of life, your development success is highly dependent on relationships. All details such as user requirements, functional requirements, test cases and other items that define the scope of what you’re building are related in some fashion, either directly or indirectly. Here’s an example of a common process flow:
Trace relationships to connect artifacts together to map out interdependencies between the different items. These relationships are the foundation for effective traceability.
Traceable relationships are as much about connecting the people involved as they are about connecting all the items. Each requirement in the system has members of your team associated with it—analysis, architecture, development, verification and quality assurance among them—and stakeholders and customers who care about its status.
When one item changes, it has a ripple effect on other related items and the people associated with the items. Keeping track of this ripple effect is crucial to the success of your projects. It’s one of the primary reasons teams need to employ traceability.
Specifically, tracing relationships identifies the individuals and teams affected by change and allows them to discuss and make decisions in context.
2. COVERAGE EXPLORER
Traceability reporting through Jama’s Coverage Explorer visually represents the coverage of your product, helping you align users, maintain quality, meet compliance regulations and understand the impact of change.
Users can view related items and understand the status of those items. For example, users can verify that their requirements have downstream test cases and see what percentage of those test cases have passed.
In the simple example below, a list of requirements are shown along with their state in the first column. In the second column, the downstream verification tests are listed for each requirement. From this view, teams can see what verification coverage they have, where verification tests are missing and get high-level verification results.
“Consider Jama if you need to support ideation and requirements workflow… Jama’s product drives traceability from requirements to validation, with support for planning and management of tests. The focus of the vendor has been on ease of use and collaboration, and a key capability is the Jama Review Center functionality. Jama offers a strong solution in requirements management, including traceability to test management and product delivery.”
Gartner Research, Magic Quadrant for Application Development Life Cycle Management, 2015
3. IMPACT ANALYSIS
What if you could anticipate the impact of a change on your project and the entire team before it occurred? Will this change request send the development team over the edge? These insights are possible with Impact Analysis. Impact Analysis relies on the trace relationships you set up, and it reports on the complete picture of all the items that are directly and indirectly affected by a change to an individual item.
Here’s an example of an automated impact analysis report for a high-level business requirement. If this requirement changes, three directly related product requirements, downstream software requirements and numerous verification tests would all be affected.
4. VERSION HISTORY
Capturing a complete and detailed record of all changes is a critical element for reaching higher levels of requirements maturity within your process, such as ISO 9001.
Version History is for those among us who like to (or have to) roll up our sleeves and get deep into the details of every change. It also helps companies meet regulatory compliance standards in fields such as automotive electronics, aerospace and defense, and medical technologies.
One of the benefits of traceability is having a comprehensive audit trail of changes, so you can analyze the who, what, when and why of every change made. At the same time, you can easily roll back to an earlier version because it’s all stored in the definitive system of record and action.
Here’s an example of a side-by-side comparison of two versions, using an automated process within Jama. For efficiency gains, the specific field that changed is highlighted in yellow, so you don’t have to spend time hunting around the full requirements specification document to pinpoint and understand precisely what changed.
5. TRACE DECISIONS & DISCUSSIONS
How often have you been involved in a project where “change notice paralysis” sets in after a couple of weeks of inbox overload? Usually it occurs when the entire team is on a project-wide distribution list and the project manager is on the hook to send out an email with the complete 200-page software requirements specification document attached for every little change that occurs. Right intention, wrong solution.
What happens next? People either waste time hunting around in the document trying to determine if the latest change is relevant to them, or, they tune out the email “noise” and miss an important change, which is even more costly.
There are smarter ways to keep everyone on the same page.
“Reviews are tremendously valuable in Jama. Likewise, the user interface is very intuitive for 90% of the features that users must quickly access. These are among the top reasons why we selected Jama as the official Shure RM Tool. The excellent customer support that we get makes the Jama team (business, sales and technical staff) feel like an extension of our Shure staff.”
Tony Branch, Product Platform Planning Staff Systems Engineer, Shure Incorporated
You need to be sure that everyone impacted by a change is in the loop. At the same time, you don’t want to flood the entire organization with irrelevant emails. What do you do?
In the example above using Jama, you can instantly send a direct link to the specific requirement that changed, with version notes, to only the relevant groups or individual users affected. Notification is part of the overall change management workflow. Every test case has a comment and activity stream accessible to all users. Testers and contributors can capture decisions, answer questions and resolve issues transparently and responsively
Organize & Visualize Data & Traceability
The complexity of most semiconductor engineering projects requires a far more powerful, elegant and modern solution than legacy tools can provide.
Too often, traceability is an afterthought and done manually following project completion. Catching and correcting problems at this point costs additional time, effort and luck. Traceability is about reducing risk, and it therefore needs to be a state of continual awareness; with attention to decision-making and change analysis in real time, that’s what Jama provides.
Using Jama, you save time and money, accelerate development cycles, reduce the risk of error and improve quality and compliance.
Jama improves how you deal with data. The ability to organize and visualize data is one of the key differentiators for semiconductor engineering, as shown in the example below.
Picture this: Traceable communication. Documented decisions and actions. All product and systems info organized and contextualized from concept to launch. With Jama, it’s your reality. Try Jama and see how we can help you solve your team’s semiconductor engineering challenges.