Configuration Management and Documentation

Configuration Management and Documentation

Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2303-1.ch008
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Improving Communications of Complex Systems Projects

It is not just engineering alone that creates a successful product. It is shown that one third of all produced devices do not meet performance or functionality requirements, and that twenty four percent of all projects are cancelled due to schedule delays that could not be recovered (Shamieh, 2012). Quite often the reason for a fatal system failure is not due to the system’s engineering design; rather, it is due to failures of communication. With ever increasing complexities in the systems and pressure for increased productivity from development teams, communication becomes the key for successful deployment of the model-based design process and ultimately successful product development.

Large, complex system development projects suffering from poor communications is not a surprise. Most large development teams are widely distributed across cities, countries, and even continents. Language and cultural barriers make communication more difficult, and time differences often make collaboration less productive. Even for employees within the same company, organizational divides can impede communication and reduce productivity. Poor communication can cause a lot of problems, including: lack of clarity of system functions and use cases; multiple interpretations of system requirements; incomplete and overlooked requirements; time wasted gathering information manually from multiple sources; times wasted working with outdated documents; gaps and redundancies in responsibilities, etc. To make things worse, large, complex embedded systems development creates more documentation and design artifacts, uses tools from multiple vendors, and involves team members from multiple disciplinary areas. How to address these communication challenges is becoming more and more critical for achieving product development success.

The best way to overcome the communications difficulties inherent in a large team environment is to provide a common platform for development and maintenance and to establish a common language for communicating across the platform.

Today’s embedded systems often contain multiple subsystems from various sources and millions of lines of code developed by engineering teams from multiple companies, countries, and cultures. To streamline the development and testing processes, it is essential to provide a unified systems development platform. Using a common development platform breaks down barriers between teams, enabling engineers to work together throughout the development lifecycle. A unified platform makes it easier for distributed teams to integrate their work and share knowledge, saving precious time off the development cycle. By reducing miscommunication and streamlining workflows, you can expect to see substantial improvements in quality and productivity and keep the project on track.

Based on this common platform, the overall development process can be managed and tracked. Using this platform, stakeholders and engineers process and create data that is shared, analyzed, and reported on efficiently and effectively throughout the systems development life cycle. Automation and federation tools that leverage technologies to streamline communication and automate workflows can help collaboration within a project team. System life cycle development tools need to be integrated to eliminate barriers between tools. Through tool integration, it makes it easier to use tools from different vendors for a system development project, while easily sharing system life cycle data, such as requirements, models, change requests, test cases, and code. Documentation often involves a lot of manual labor. Document automation tools can streamline the production of custom documents, while ensuring consistency of information across multiple documents.

Applying a model-based design approach is an effective way of uniting diverse development teams spanning multiple cultures and engineering disciplines. In this approach, a model is the common language used by all members in a design team throughout the development life cycle. Modeling breaks down communication barriers by providing models as visual representations of system specification and design, making it easier for every team member to understand the system and sharing cross-functional knowledge. A shared understanding leads directly into productivity improvements, since engineers are no longer wasting time resolving issues caused by misunderstanding and miscommunications.

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