Bulletproof Your Regulated Development

Cary Bryczek | January 30, 2017

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What does an artificial pancreas, an autonomous car, and an airplane all have in common? All three are highly connected products with lots of software. All three are highly safety critical where defects or unintended use can result in serious injury or death. All three have highly complex requirements.

As consumers we are all familiar with connectivity of our cell phones to our cars, but a connected car goes beyond just infotainment. PwC analysts describe that a “connected car will look like a fully digitized vehicle with Wi-Fi; advanced infotainment systems and apps; vehicle-to-vehicle communications that let cars on the road “talk” to each other, exchanging basic safety data such as speed and position; real-time location services and routing based on traffic conditions; and networked Web links that facilitate vehicle diagnostics and repairs.”  Intel describes cars as being “Intelligent.”  In fact, today 40% of cars are connected in some manner. Autonomous driving cars are here. Engineers now are struggling to solve the safety problems to make it a reality to bring to the market.

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Cars today are much more than just a single product but a whole system of systems that all must interoperate and work together. It is also no longer true that cars are designed and built by a single manufacturer any longer.

I love this diagram by Liz Jensen that depicts 277 different companies that provide products that play a part in a connected car. That’s a lot of software. That’s a lot of interfaces. That’s a lot of requirements. That’s a lot of safety risk!

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The challenge to get the requirements right with engineers spanning across the globe from different companies, speaking different languages is vast but it’s more than just system complexity these companies are faced with. For example, when automotive companies are now part of a large multi-supplier organization, new requirements engineering issues arise.

Suppliers need to adapt to the OEM and its software development processes. To be effective there must be harmonization of communications and data. In many cases, there will be a need for more formal artifacts to better define the responsibility boundary between customer and supplier.

Believe it or not in automotive there are no regulations for software. Aerospace and Medical devices both have to pass regulatory audits for their software prior to flying or being put on the market. It would serve the automotive industry well to study the software requirements regulations and techniques used by these industries.

Employee retention is a big deal. Millennials and the Digital Generation in 2017 now make up 80% of the global workforce. Technology companies that want to survive today need to address their specific needs in order to retain top talent. This generation has many more choices and they are choosing companies not based on salary alone. The digital generation is choosing to work for companies that are fun and offer more learning opportunities and career advancement. Engineers want to learn about the latest advancements in technology and they want to learn skills that improve their jobs; this includes learning how to be skillful in getting requirements right! Their expectation to work with the latest technology includes the engineering tools they use in their jobs.

Tools that are old, or are heavy and client-based are not tools that are being easily embraced by the younger generation. They have an expectation to use technology that is familiar to them. They want to use applications in web browsers with built-in collaboration. They want their work to have the “connected experience.” They want their tools to be intuitively easy to use. Millennials are not finding DOORS to be a suitable tool to work with for requirements management in today’s fast-paced product development world. Those using or switching to DOORS Nexgen are working through their own sets of problems with usability and performance.

Successful companies in automotive, aerospace, and medical device development are succeeding by:

  • Accelerating speed by reducing their development time;
  • Conquering system complexity in their multi-supplier market;
  • And bulletproofing their software quality.

Automotive manufacturers are faced with compressed time-to-market cycles, reduced from 5 to 2 years, coupled with the pressure for mid-life-cycle platform refresh options. For an automaker, having a development partner capable of providing increased levels of integration with higher levels of functionality, while maintaining safety is a major asset. And there are a lot of hungry new companies in the marketplace all competing with each other. Speed throughout the development effort to delivery of the product is key.

The automotive market is shared by OEM and multiple levels of suppliers. They need ease of exchangeability of data among them. They need full visibility of requirements throughout development, from the specification to design and code. They need ability to anticipate and communicate changes throughout supplier teams. Having adaptable strategies for overcoming these complexities is also leads to greater success.

Automotive systems are safety-critical systems where failures may cause severe damages or loss of life. Software errors lead directly to car recalls. Software testing has traditionally been viewed as expensive, however finding software bugs before a product is released is the key to reducing damaged product branding and direct costs associated with product recalls. Requirements defects are leading cause of software defects. Most failures in software products are due to errors in the requirements and design phases – as high as 64 percent of total defect cost! Having a trained workforce and tools and techniques in place helps companies bulletproof their software quality.

Whether you are developing today’s connected car system, the latest and greatest avionics system, or medical devices that improve and save lives, the challenges, and the regulatory compliance burden you are facing are the same. The top keys to succeed in successfully bringing your products to market and to become a leader in your market are the ability to Go Fast, to manage Complexity, and ensure Quality is paramount. A modern requirements engineering methodology is essential and engineers are demanding tools that are fresh; tools that they like to use in their job.

Gartner has advised that “application development executives should invest in requirements skills, practices and tools to improve user experience and software quality.” Using Jama’s software helps organizations achieve this success. The technology in our software will help you get to market faster and to prevent waste. By helping manage complexity through being a source of requirement data, as well as by capturing engineering decision making in the context of individual requirements, reduces wait times often experienced by disconnected reviews between teams and different organizations. Jama’s modern data organization and traceability model make it easy keep systems and subsystems requirement and specification data available, visible, and intuitive to the all development teams.

Jama can accelerate time to development and compliance review through web based decision management and full traceability of requirements to verifications and validations. The product prevents design waste and errors by ensuring teams manage change through version control, and providing visibility to the project to the team. All teams, even when distributed, including customers and suppliers work together through an intuitive to use web interface that allows them to capture collaboration around the clock. Jama’s ease of use is king. The more people that have eyes on the requirement data, the earlier in the development cycle, will vastly improve quality. Getting the requirements right is critical.

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