Tag Archive for: Digital Engineering

Requirements Traceability

Requirements Traceability – Does My Data Model Matter?

Nearly all engineering organizations have one or more initiatives underway to improve their product development process. Live Traceability™, Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE), and digital engineering are the most common areas of focus. As engineers look over the fence and make fun of marketing types for being distracted by shiny objects, marketeers look back and see a similar behavior – just with geekier objects like SysML, digital twins, and simulation. The recurring pattern we see is that at some point during the early stages of the initiative, the realization hits that the data model for requirements across teams and projects is highly inconsistent and lacks consistent relationship rules among data objects. It becomes clear at this point that further progress on the initiatives cannot be made without first fixing the inconsistent and lacking data model.  

Some teams will resist an effort to establish a consistent core data model. These teams will ask to keep the flexibility to refine their own engineering data shape and that is OK.  The keyword is “refine” and not “define.” Having a consistent core data model, that some teams are allowed to refine for themselves, allows for innovation around the engineering process while still enabling process-wide, integration automation, Live Traceability, model-based systems engineering (MBSE), and digital engineering.

Current Requirements Data Model 

For most companies, the data model mess came into existence through a project- and document-centric mindset with legacy requirements management tools. Each project team was allowed to modify their own data structures and each set of requirements lived alone as a document in a repository. This provided project teams with flexibility but over time and over dozens, hundreds, or thousands of projects has led to a challenging situation. We often find that teams have defined the same information in numerous different ways and that even within the same teams there is significant variance across documents. In short, the best way to describe the situation is as a repository of thousands of self-contained documents and no data model exists nor even a common definition of objects upon which to achieve Live Traceability, reuse across projects, MBSE, or digital engineering.   

RELATED READING: Requirements Traceability – How to Go Live

What is Necessary to Move Forward 

Organizations invest in software tools but have forgotten to invest in their data.  A consistent data model is the best way to maximize the benefits of software tooling, but can only be achieved by spending time on analysis. 

Jama Software has developed a Data Model Diagnostic™ (DMD) to help tackle this challenge, taking data from your legacy tool (IBM® DOORS®), understanding its shape and size, and transitioning the data into a model-based framework (Jama Connect™). The DMD automates the analysis of the existing documents to determine the most common object definitions upon which to base a consistent data model going forward. Once a data model has been determined, the next step is to implement a model-based, requirements management solution that ensures compliance is maintained. As opposed to a legacy, document-centric requirements management tool, a model-based one ensures consistent application of all objects AND defines and maintains the relationship rules among the objects. This forms a model representation of the requirements in a consistent manner across projects and is a necessary requirement for MBSE and SysML modeling.   

To Get Started With Your Free Data Model Diagnostic Consultation: CLICK HERE


Airborne Systems

Last month we held a webinar with two of our in-house aerospace experts titled, “Transformative Airborne Systems Development.

This webinar was well received by our customers building airborne systems, and we wanted to make sure nobody missed out on this great content. Below, you’ll find a recording of the webinar and an abbreviated transcript.


David Ewing: When we talk to our friends in the field, customers, peers, subject matter experts, we hear a lot about the increasing complexity required to design new products and systems. Some of the things we tend to hear, we hear about development cycles, they’re increasingly complex. And this is driving need for automation and more modern tools. Cross domain collaboration is not really happening very much, there’s different tools and processes in the different groups, and different domains, and things that they use that they really don’t play nice together. 

The connected products and systems that we’re developing right now, they’re not just complicated, they also inject significant risk into the certification process. Ensuring compliance and safety systems is difficult and time consuming. That is just not changing, and all these different items it’s just piling on there. The regulatory environment is changing, we’re seeing changes coming from things like Urban Air Mobility and other technology drivers that’s driving changes to the regulatory environment. 

And we’re really seeing rapid changes within the market itself. So there’s a number of different drivers that are changing the dynamics of system development. A couple of examples, the push into electric propulsion, it’s very rapid. Right now the improvements in battery technology is really driving down costs, and the idea of commercial hybrid electric flight is very much insight. 

Technology is Driving Change in the Regulatory Environment

Urban Air Mobility, I mentioned that is one of the new things coming out in the last slide. Those vehicles are expected to accelerate over the next decade. However, there’s a lot of challenges that need to be worked out and the regulations need to be established. So back to that idea of the regulatory environment is changing over time. And this is to make sure things are air worthy, and also the use of the airspace itself over our heads. 

So the question is, are you ready to meet these new challenges? Are your requirements tools and processes ready? So, I thought we’d take a look, a little bit of a walk through the idea of Requirements Management Maturity, just to set the table. The most basic approach that we tend to see is a document-based approach. And even if the documents are digital, your typical Microsoft Office formats, Word, PowerPoint, things like that. The utility to the firm is limited. 

RELATED: MBSE Made Easy – Overcoming the Organizational Challenges 

“Documents tend to get stuck in silos.”

Quite often things are just thrown into SharePoint. And this really doesn’t get you where you need to go. The visibility and collaboration across your organization is limited, those that are in the know, those that have the right access. And then we if we’re talking about scalability – well, it’s non-existent. I mean, think about having to bring together all the various domains, while managing the access control, the editing rights, revisions over time. It’s just not achievable. And compliance, it’s herculean. Folks have to throw massive amounts of time trying to pull together all this information from all these different sources, to try to present the package of information that’s necessary to achieve certification. 

Legacy Tools Have a Limited Ability to Support Agile

The next area that we tend to see is the idea of legacy tools, and those using legacy tools tend to be very much straddled with outdated technology. The modern multi-domain system development processes, they’re not supported with legacy tools. And this extends into the world of software. We’re seeing software everywhere, everything has software in it now. Legacy tools have very limited ability to support variants of Agile, like say for or Scrum, depending on the flavor, the variant that your firm might use. 

The Most Mature Process is Data-Centric

A data-centric approach isn’t just a goal– this is available today. Firms that are data centric, they’re able to ensure they have a single source of truth, they don’t have multiple versions of those documents that are floating around an email, or in shared folders, or different SharePoint collections. They’re able to use model based approaches to allow their teams to digitally model and relate information together. 

This gains a lot of benefit from those digital connections of the different artifacts and information. You can extend this into integrations with the other systems in the design cycle, and there’s more than one tool used to design products. And being able to feed those requirements to the mechanical folks that use CAD, feeding it to the simulation folks that are doing high fidelity and low fidelity simulation, and downstream to the folks that are doing testing, this adds more value. 

And this really feeds right into having those integrated and data centric processes. Those firms now have traceability. Now we can look back from the physical product, the finished product that comes off the assembly line with a serial number, we can look back to the individual design features that were determined, that are necessary along the way and back to the individual requirements that drove the decisions to design a product. And collaboration is enhanced, and is supporting real time feedback, knowing what’s going on, having modern capabilities like at-mentions, as you’re able to chat right within your tools, having the ability to review things in a much more robust manner. 

Digital Transformation is the Goal for Most Airborne Systems Firms

If you want to lead the industry, and if you want to transform the airborne industry, digital transformation is a must. How are you going to get there with document-based legacy processes and tools. You’re not. If you want to change the game, you need to bring digital processes and data together. You want to use those to drive your innovation. That’s the definition of digital transformation. 

Watch the full webinar to learn more about transformative airborne systems development. 


Digital Transformation

This post is Part I of our two-part series on digital transformation.

The future of Earth might depend on space. Governments from countries around the world and private space companies funded by billionaires are designing new space technologies that push the envelope of technology and complexity. Systems built to operate in the space environment must also be ready for quite a lot of hazards. Here on Earth, we don’t have to worry about operating in a vacuum; getting hit by space debris and micro-sized meteoroids; radiation from the sun and the universe itself; charged particles; or variances in gravity.  

Gone are the days where you have a decade or more to design and develop a new system. With changing global economies, dramatically evolving political landscapes, and shrinking pools of money, waste needs to be eliminated from development. Digital engineering strategies are aiming to eliminate wasteful stovepipes in information and communication centered around not just the product development lifecycle but even the acquisition lifecycle. For deployed space systems in many cases, you only get one shot at getting it right.  

Digital engineering is an integrated approach that uses authoritative sources of system data and models as a continuum across disciplines to support lifecycle activities from concept through disposal. In the simplest of terms, it is the act of creating, capturing, and integrating data using models and innovative technology in an orchestrated manner in order to unlock greater value and provide positive impacts on cost and schedule. This integrated approach means that the data from the digital models such as CAD models, electrical circuit models, system models, and software models as well as the domain discipline processes are orchestrated tightly. Hardware, systems, and software engineers are now working much more closely to design and develop systems. 

At NASA it is believed that “Digital transformation leads to more informed decisions, increased operational efficiency, and streamlined processes.” Digital transformation is not just converting paper records into digital format. It is not about making Word and PDF documents available to more people. Digital transformation is about transforming how you communicate and collaborate with not only your co-workers but also with your customer and suppliers. It is the reinvention of the way processes themselves are performed; it’s not just a change in IT.  

New digital engineering tool ecosystems must be flexible and agile enough to be used by broad, cross-functional teams as well as be responsive to technology changes. One key ingredient for digital engineering success is to make use of models. In the systems engineering community MBSE is seen as the state-of-the-art technique. Requirements management however, which is a pillar of systems engineering, extends beyond the systems model. Highly abstract requirements such as stakeholder expectations, mission goals, and concepts of operations as well as design requirements at the element, subsystem, and component level benefit from a model-based approach. 

Using Jama Connect for Requirements MBSE 

Jama Connect’s unique user interface allows non-technical stakeholders to visualize a model of the system of interest and interact with the requirements in familiar views like documents and spreadsheets. Using Jama Connect in the application of MBSE to create models is supported by a series of pre-defined views and its underlying relationship ontology which enforces the rigor and consistency demanded by the framework. It can also be used in alongside dedicated SysML tools to act as the dedicated requirements system since data organization in Jama Connect is compatible with SysML tools. This makes it attractive to organizations that do not have enough trained staff or licenses to use dedicated SysML graphical modeling tools. 

The Human Element of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is not just about learning to use new tools and incorporation of models but is also about changing to a new company culture and mindset. It becomes necessary for stakeholders and engineers across all disciplines to develop new skills in both systems thinking and real time collaboration. Jama Connect has built-in technology that facilitates better cooperation and communication. It helps eliminate communication silos and becomes a bridge between the requirements data and common communication systems like email. Emails transform to in-app discussions, @mentions, and actions. Requirements reviews in Jama transform into virtual review of data rather than production of documents with iterative reviews of endless redlines. Reviews streamline the feedback sharing process. This reduces the rounds of revision by letting teams give clear feedback on requirements. They don’t need to spend hours figuring out the changes suggested and what needs to be worked upon. 

Parting Words 

The complexity of space systems and the global race to ensure the future of Earth needs the benefits that transformation to digital engineering brings. Doing this successfully enables you to simplify complex development cycles, bridge collaboration gaps, build quality products, get to space faster, and build safe and successful systems. 

To learn more about how Jama Connect for Airborne Systems helps teams to improve their ability to communicate, track, and test requirements for teams in the aerospace industry, download our solution overview. 


Digital TransformationDigital transformation is an urgent priority for businesses in 2021. Many organizations accelerated their digital transformation efforts during the pandemic and rapidly adopted a variety of tools; but looking to the future, it’s critical that you take a deep dive into what digital transformation can offer your business — and the best tools to achieve your goals. Digital transformation is not just about adopting more tools, it’s about adopting the right tools.

A critical area of opportunity is product development. Processes in this area are often fragmented across a variety of teams, all working in silos. This puts organizations at risk for product delays, defects, cost overruns, failed verifications and validations, recalls, and more. Two major challenges are:

  1. Critical information is fragmented. Product development processes are fragmented and siloed within teams.
  2. Critical data is trapped. The requirements that specify dependencies and outcomes are trapped within static documents.

Many organizations still use document-based requirements management workflows, which creates fragmentation and doesn’t help companies better serve their customers or get products to market faster. Additionally, product development teams don’t have visibility into what they need most, and communication is siloed and disconnected. Adopting end-to-end visibility supports stronger digital transformation and helps you get products to market faster and with greater efficiency.

Why Document-Based Requirements Management Isn’t Designed for the Future

Over half of product launches (55%) don’t happen on time. The root cause is often product development issues, such as missed bugs or “feature creep.” Using document-based requirements complicates challenges because there may be many different versions of the same document floating around an organization. Stakeholders struggle to connect, give feedback and provide timely approvals. Additionally, as a company grows, managing documents in this way is not scalable.

The result is product teams spending a large amount of time on manual tasks, in some cases more time than they would spend developing and managing the actual requirements. Improved collaboration is possible if organizations use solutions that enable real-time interactions, shorter review cycles and a consolidated system of record. This creates a single source of truth that supports more efficient product development and digital transformation.

RELATED POST: What is the Digital Thread?

How creating a single source of truth supports digital transformation

Fragmentation and confusion occur when project activities are spread out across many different communication channels. Teams face difficulties creating a cohesive workflow and getting everyone on the same page. A few potential challenges of not having a single source of truth are:

  • Projects evolve in an “out of sync” environment. Key updates manually circulating in lengthy documents may be lost in inboxes. A disconnected communication process complicates the tracking requirements and can even change them, resulting in different versions of the truth.
  • Stakeholders are confused about which document is the latest version. Lack of cohesive communication may leave confusion about which version of a document is the most up to date. Teams may work in silos and make time-consuming errors due to this issue.
  • A document-based approach creates extra manual work. A document-based approach, such as one using Word or Excel, isn’t designed for managing requirements, leaving additional manual work. For example, teams may need to create their own processes for adhering to industry standards.

A platform that centralizes everything in a single system of record offers a single source of truth that is often missing from many product development processes.

RELATED POST: Requirements Management – Living, Not Static

Centralizing Your Requirements in a Single Platform

Digital transformation is about delivering value through improved understanding of data, alignment of data and the ability to act on that data. Achieving a single source of truth by centralizing your requirements in one platform enables you to secure a competitive edge in the market.

As product development processes become more complicated, traditional document-based requirements management has revealed its age and limitations. To successfully move from a document-based process, you need a solution that can do the following:

  • Supports real-time communication and provides the full context of conversations.
  • Provides a single system of record for requirements, risks and tests.
  • Supports risk analysis throughout the entire development process.
  • Allows for easy exporting of reports to prove compliance and pass audits.
  • Offers end-to-end traceability that enables you to view the impact of a change prior to its being made and ensure product quality with complete coverage.

Jama Connect enables real-time collaboration in one convenient location and replaces fragmented workflows spread across multiple documents and communication channels. Collaborators can easily manage requirements and risks in a single system in real time, which results in a single source of truth. This helps you prevent many of the challenges that arise from emailing collaborators with new changes or requirements, or requesting that comments be left in a Word or Excel document.

RELATED POST: The Importance of Centralizing Your Requirements in One Platform

Moving Into the Future

True digital transformation requires organizations to evaluate how technology can support the right strategy, generate accurate insights and foster informed decision-making. When looking at strategies to integrate digital transformation into your organization, consider leveraging a competitive advantage in the area of product development.

Doing this successfully enables you to simplify complex development cycles, bridge collaboration gaps, build quality products, get to market faster and reduce risk around compliance.

Download our eBook to learn how optimize product development with strategic team collaboration.


Benefits of Collaboration

The Benefits of Collaboration for Government and Defense Teams

Tomorrow’s defense and government systems must be built at a lower cost with shorter timelines often using new Agile acquisition strategies. Since government and defense program teams are largely comprised of civilians and contractors working in distributed locations, efficient and streamlined collaboration is crucial.

In 2018 the US Secretary of Defense encouraged everyone to adopt new practices in order to modernize delivered systems and prioritize the speed of delivery. This encouragement was backed by a Digital Engineering Strategy with aims to allow the DoD and industry partners to work more collaborative at the engineering level. They defined digital engineering “as an integrated digital approach that uses authoritative sources of system data and models as a continuum across disciplines to support lifecycle activities from concept through disposal.”

Expected benefits of digital engineering include: 

  • Better informed decision making
  • Enhanced communication
  • Increased understand of and confidence in the system design
  • A more efficient engineering process

Jama Connect’s digital mission engineering platform has been specifically designed to assist in reaping these benefits. The platform’s core functionalities – including requirements version control, change management, baseline management, traceability, verification and validation, and risk analysis – are enhanced with a streamlined collaboration capability that establishes alignment across teams working within complex government programs.

Jama Connect lets government programs leverage lean, information-driven lifecycle techniques for managing strategic objectives, requirements, Agile user stories, features, risks and more.

Two qualities that set Jama Connect apart from the competition include:

  1. Ease of use without lengthy training
  2. Ease of adoption by broader types of user roles

RELATED: How to Realign Engineering Teams for Remote Work with Minimal Disruption

Aligning Distributed Government and Defense Teams

Distributed government and defense teams must consider ease of adoption and usability when researching requirements management (RM) solutions. Our customers confirm that if engineers and stakeholders don’t find a system intuitive and accessible, acquisition and implementation can be a costly miscalculation. Jama Connect is built and maintained with high-fidelity usability as the guiding principle.

Many requirements management tools require users to achieve unrealistic levels of expertise or otherwise hire expensive experts who fit the criteria. Consequently, most teams end up working outside the system using documents and spreadsheets. The result: A requirements and traceability ordeal that slows the development cycle, introduces unnecessary amounts of risk, and defeats the purpose of having a dedicated RM tool.

RELATED: A Path to MBSE with Jama Connect

The Benefits of Collaboration in a Modern Requirements Management Platform

Requirements management in Jama Connect eliminates reliance on documents and supports rapid delivery of complex, workable systems by bridging all the teams and work in real-time. The result is the connection of a multitude of interacting subsystems with a robust digital thread.

Jama Connect provides a modern solution that transforms system development into a transparent, measurable, and controlled systems engineering discipline. With industry-leading competence in an enterprise-class platform that is rapidly adaptable to the unique needs of each organization, Jama Connect is an analyst-recognized leader in the requirements management market, delivering unmatched value in each of the following areas:

  • Requirements Engineering: Our web-based application provides the ability to intuitively author requirements, maintain versions, control change, baseline, and collaboratively review and approve.
  • End-to-End Traceability: Link and decompose program-level capability requirements and operational requirements to derived system requirements, and then down to lower-level software and hardware requirements.
  • Change Management: With fine-grain impact analysis providing instant data insights, you can make informed decisions as requirements evolve during long development cycles or shift in mission, cost, or technology.
  • Fast Reviews & Approvals: Share and gain consensus on acceptance criteria by leveraging higher levels of stakeholder collaboration among government, suppliers, and subcontractors.
  • Virtualized Control Boards: Built-in collaboration technology lets teams capture all communication in a central system alongside system data. Items linked to related conversations, questions, and reasoning can be reviewed throughout development and archived after.
  • Quicker, Clearer Decisions: Request decisions on changes within the context of the items and projects. Transparent decision-making gives you immediate clarity and saves time.
  • Risk Management: The pressure to develop systems with lower costs, shorter timelines, and agile acquisition never stops. Jama Connect provides a voice across acquisition, development, and integration teams to collaboratively define, validate, and verify risks and ensure that they are accounted for and mitigated in the earliest stages of development.
  • Verification & Validation: Seamlessly manage traceability between requirements and test cases used for verification & validation and provide evidence to comply with regulations and standards.

To learn more about how Jama Connect supports digital engineering and collaboration for Government and Defense teams, download our whitepaper.



The Digital Engineering Transformation

In today’s age of digital transformation, most product development teams are experiencing an issue of burgeoning software content causing immense effort and complexity to understand, write, design and validate, and produce. Digital engineering (DE) is a broader movement that takes shape in many industry segments such as medical device development, automotive, defense, consumer electronics, and aerospace to reduce the pains of developing new products, systems, and software. But, differences in maturity and methods sometimes make understanding the true state of DE difficult.

DE is an integrated approach that uses authoritative sources of system data and models (instead of documents) as a continuum across disciplines to support lifecycle activities — from concept through disposal. In the simplest of terms, it is the act of creating, capturing, and integrating data using models and innovative technology in an orchestrated manner in order to unlock greater value and provide positive impacts on cost and schedule. It is the system model for which MBSE is useful.

When developing avionics weapons systems, a document-based systems engineering process is inefficient and lacks an authoritative source of truth. Meeting the demands of modern development allows more teams to be connected to the design and engineering process. This allows everyone to have a clear understanding of the big picture and leads to better informed decision making, enhanced communication, increased understanding of and confidence in the system design, and a more efficient engineering process.

RELATED: How to Realign Engineering Teams for Remote Work with Minimal Disruption

Meeting Market Challenges and Managing Complexities with MBSE

Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) has been a popular topic in the systems engineering community for over a decade, but the level of movement or path towards implementation has not always been clear. Market forces are increasing the demand and urgency for organizations to implement the MBSE discipline across the enterprise.

Across industries including aerospace, transportation, industrial manufacturing, and healthcare, customer demand for new, complex, and interconnected products, systems, and software is ever-increasing — and these systems must now be smarter, safer, and more environmentally friendly — all while remaining affordable.

For teams using a cumbersome, and often disparate document-driven approach, facilitating a common understanding of complex systems across diverse stakeholders can often be problematic. To stay competitive, companies building these complex systems require a solution that reduces time and effort by providing an MBSE approach where the combination of collaboration, modeling, tools, and methods streamlines the end-to-end systems engineering process.

A good MBSE practice will prevent rework due to poorly developed requirements or lack of communication across engineering teams. It will help to eliminate risks by providing an architectural roadmap that makes it easier to visualize and provide validation checks.

Customers will be happy with the system delivered and report fewer complaints because the application of MBSE has enabled the teams to more easily perform requirements analysis and validation to ensure that what is being designed and built is solving the correct problems that the customer has.

To manage increasing complexity, engineers and stakeholders must use tools (like Jama Connect™) and techniques whose data is both human-readable and has the capability to integrate across the ecosystem. The challenge is having the ability to efficiently design and build as well as effectively collaborate across stakeholders with vastly different engineering disciplines (e.g., software, mechanical, materials, electrical, chemical, environmental). Each subsystem needs to interoperate with the others to achieve the expected system function, adhere to safety and/ or government regulations, and ultimately meet the customer’s requirements.

Download our new whitepaper, A Path to Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) with Jama Connect, to learn more about digital engineering & MBSE benefits, obstacles, and success factors.


Digital Engineering

Digital engineering is an integrated approach that uses authoritative sources of system data and models as a continuum across disciplines to support lifecycle activities from concept through disposal. In the simplest of terms, it is the act of creating, capturing, and integrating data using models and innovative technology in an orchestrated manner in order to unlock greater value and provide positive impacts on cost and schedule. This integrated approach means that the data from the digital models such as CAD models, electrical circuit models, system models, and software models as well as the domain discipline processes are orchestrated tightly. Hardware, systems, and software engineers are now working much more closely to design and develop systems. 

Digital engineering is a movement that takes shape in many industry segments such as medical device development, automotive, defense, consumer electronics, and aerospace to reduce the pains of developing new products. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has a poor track record of fielding new systems on time and within budget. Acquisition teams are mired in antiquated processes and are risk averse to attempt improvements if it causes too much organizational friction.  

The DoD has recognized its deficiency and has identified the following challenges with their current acquisition engineering process: 

  • It has a linear acquisition process that is not agile or resilient 
  • Stakeholders use stove-piped infrastructures, environments, and data sources to support various activities throughout the lifecycle 
  • Communication, collaboration, and decisions happen through static disconnected documents and subject to interpretation 
  • The existing practices are unable to deliver technology fast enough 

The Drive for Evolution in Engineering Practices 

Kristin BaldwinActing Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering, wrote that, “In this era of rapid growth in technology, information, and complexity, we need to evolve our engineering practices. This evolution incorporates advancements in our engineering methodologies (methods, processes, and tools) to enable data-driven decision-making throughout the acquisition lifecycle.” 

In 2018 the US Secretary of Defense encouraged everyone to adopt new practices in order to modernize delivered systems and prioritize the speed of delivery. This encouragement was backed by a Digital Engineering Strategy which aims to allow the DoD and industry partners to work more collaboratively at the engineering level. 

DoD’s Expected Benefits of Digital Engineering 

Expected benefits of digital engineering include betterinformed decision making, enhanced communication, increased understanding of and confidence in the system design, and a more efficient engineering process 

The Top Five Goals of DoD’s Digital Engineering Strategy 

  1. Formalize the development, integration, and use of models to inform enterprise and program decision making
  2. Provide an enduring, authoritative source of truth
  3. Incorporate technological innovation to improve the engineering practice
  4. Establish a supporting infrastructure and environments to perform activities, collaborate, and communicate across stakeholders
  5. Transform the culture and workforce to adopt and support digital engineering across the lifecycle

There is a dire need to reduce the red tape without compromising the federal laws of oversight.  

Smart Systems Engineers 

A systems engineerprimary job is to work with the end users who are paying for the product. They have “operational requirements” that must be satisfied so that they can meet their mission needs.  

The current vision for the past decade has been to leverage Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) and use models to analyze and manage those requirements to ensure they are met at the end of the product development.  

The systems engineer becomes the translator from the electrical engineers to the mechanical engineers to the computer scientists to the operator of the system to the maintainer of the system to the buyer of the system. Each of these teams speaks a different language.  

The idea of using models was a means to provide communication in a simple, graphical form yet, only a tiny percentage of programs have demonstrated MBSE’s utility to achieve this vision. Smart systems engineers today recognize that models need to be expressed in more consumable formats to the broader stakeholder community so that communication and collaboration can take place. 

Jama Software’s Digital Engineering Bridge 

Jama Connect helps satisfy the DoD Digital Engineering Strategy’s first goal (formalize the development, integration, and use of models to inform enterprise and program decision making) by acting as a digital engineering bridge that connects the model world with the document world.  

Time consuming and error prone methods of data consumption via documents, spreadsheets, and legacy requirements tools introduces program risk and increases cycle time to the program timeline.  

Jama Connect’s unique user interface (UI) allows non-technical stakeholders to visualize a model of the system of interest and interact with the requirements in familiar views like documents and spreadsheets.  

The Benefits 

Whether Jama Connect is used in conjunction with MBSE SysML models or used as a standalone digital engineering platform, the system provides: 

  • Visualization of the shared system model and the status of its artifacts in the development lifecycle 
  • System and behavioral diagrams 
  • Faster requirements development 
  • Verification and validation of requirements developed in the model 
  • Mechanisms for broader audience communication and participation – tool specialists are not needed 
  • Baselining of requirements 
  • Requirements attribute management and workflow 
  • Requirements decomposition and tracing 
  • Specialized document generation and data reporting 

 Using Jama Connect in the application of MBSE to create models is supported by a series of pre-defined views and its underlying relationship ontology which enforces the rigor and consistency demanded by the framework. 

Jama Connect can be used in conjunction with dedicated SysML tools or as a standalone system. In fact, the data in Jama Connect is organized much in the same fashion as that in a modeling tool and performs many of the same functions. This is what makes it very attractive to organizations that do not have enough staff trained to use dedicated SysML graphical modeling tools. 

What Are Requirements in Jama Connect? 

From a big picture perspective, requirements themselves are the digital thread that connects the stakeholders stated needs and constraints to the system, hardware and software design that articulate to developers what must be developed. The notion that a “document” needs to exist for requirements to be captured and managed is a paradigm that the Digital Engineering Strategy is meant to eliminate. Jama Connect and modeling tools maintain requirements as atomic, individual objects that can then be consumed by all engineering disciplines in their own fashion. The overhead of maintaining documents just so they can be communicated to non-technical stakeholders is eliminated.  

There is also misconception that requirements engineering is performed only by systems engineers. A more agile approach to requirements engineering is when all stakeholders are validating requirements as they are being written (or as close to real time as possible). But this is difficult since a SysML model requires a specialist with many months of technical training to be able to read and understand. By using Jama Connect instead of documents or legacy requirements tools, the primary means for communication moves away from static and disconnected documents and shifts the paradigm to models and data serving as the basis for connecting traditionally siloed elements  providing an integrated information exchange throughout the lifecycle. 

Authoritative Source of Truth? 

The DoD has used the phrase single source of truth for decades, so much so that it has become the butt of ridicule. Misaligned tools and processes foster data to be stored in documents since that is the only medium that can be shared across vast varieties of stakeholders. This practice has led to: outright errors in data since it is difficult to keep track of the versions of documents; increases to the development timelines in order to just produce “documents” that are polished in formatting more suitable for print purposes; and increases to the overall cost since contractors have to charge for the additional document production time and publishing expertise. It is common for engineers to complain more of their time is spent producing pretty documents than doing engineering work. 

The Digital Engineering Strategy is attempting to combat the “where’s the latest document” question by describing in their second goal an authoritative source of truth. “The authoritative source of truth facilitates a sharing process across the boundaries of engineering disciplines, distributed teams, and other functional areas. It will provide the structure for organizing and integrating disparate models and data across the lifecycle. In addition, the authoritative source of truth will provide the technical elements for creating, updating, retrieving, and integrating models and data.”  

The Jama Connect platform is purpose-built to facilitate data sharing across various stakeholder disciplines and location boundaries. An easy to use web UI is used to capture and work with both data as well as the real-time decisions and feedback taking place around that data which keeps all stakeholders informed when change occurs and makes sure everyone gets the content they need—right when they need it. The result is that stakeholders can now access the most recent versions of data that engineers are working on without having to rely on document exports – the root of all waste. 

Fitting Within the Infrastructure 

No one tool alone will fulfill the new Digital Engineering Strategy and so to avoid the same problem of stovepipes that documents bring, the infrastructure and the tools used must become more consolidated and collaborative. Tools whether it is a MBSE tool, software engineering tool, testing tool, or CAD tool needs to have its data easily integrated with the rest of the tools within the infrastructure.  The “DoD’s strategy is to focus on standards, data, formats, and interfaces between tools rather than being constrained to particular tools.” This is probably the most difficult of all goals to achieve, not because of the lack of data exchange standards or capabilities provided by the vendors, but simply because of the distributed nature of the development teams themselves.  

In a contractor supply chain model, customers and their contractors perform their work on their own networks which are disconnected from each other. And even when working solely at a government site, classification levels force segregation of data onto different networks. Strategies to deal with integrating the data in the complex environment must be planned for.  

Jama Connect’s foundational architecture eases integration within the tool ecosystem. It has a built-in RESTful API and supports the industry standards OSLC and ReqIF formats for exchanging data. These important capabilities mean that when organizations go to integrate their digital engineering tools, numerous readily available 3rd party integration platforms are available; and in many cases already have templates to connect the endpoints in place.  

Parting Words 

There isn’t a single silver bullet to digital engineering, but I hope you leave this post with some ideas, some encouragement, and maybe some new determination to start your digital engineering journey. 

To learn more on the topic of requirements management, we’ve curated some of our best resources for you here.