How to Select a Requirements and Validation Solution

Written by: Michelle Boucher

Requirements management and validation can be very difficult and when not done well, there are significant downstream implications. In fact, in my recent post, 6 Reasons Your Projects Fail: How Requirements Management Can Help I discussed six challenges and how they negatively impact projects. The challenges include:

  1. Requirements are not well-defined

  2. Poor change management for requirements

  3. Lack of a single source of truth for requirements

  4. No link between requirements and test

  5. Inability to trace requirements throughout the development lifecycle

  6. Lack of traceability for functional safety course standards

So what can you expect if you address these challenges? How much will it help?

In my post titled, Successful Products Start with Requirements and Validation, I examined this, highlighting four business benefits companies enjoy when requirements are managed well and validated. These benefits include:

  • Get to market more quickly
  • Improve product quality
  • Lower costs
  • Develop more competitive products

So if any of these challenges have impacted you and you would like to experience these business benefits, what should you do? Investing in a requirements management and validation solution can take away a lot of the headache and put your projects on the path to success.  The challenge is what should you look for in a solution? How can you make sure you select the right one that will address these challenges and enable you to enjoy these business benefits?

To help you identify the right buying criteria for a solution that will meet your unique needs, Tech-Clarity has developed the Requirements and Validation Engineering Buyer's Guide: The Expert Guide to Requirements Validation. The buyer’s guide goes beyond just software functionality and provides a framework of requirements that will impact your implementation success and long-term ROI (see Figure 1). All sections of the guide include a checklist you can use as you evaluate and compare different software solutions.

The buyers guide has four major sections, which include:

  • The software requirements for a requirements management and validation solution
  • Service requirements needed to ensure your implementation is a success
  • Vendor requirements for what you should look for in a solution provider
  • Special considerations that would be specific to your company (for example, regulations your company needs to adhere to)

The software requirements section is divided into eight different areas of software functionality that you should consider. These sections cover the entire lifecycle of a requirement so that you can manage from definition to final validation. Lifecycle considerations include managing changes, supporting traceability, ensuring compliance, encouraging reuse, and managing product variants. Simplifying the process of defining and executing best practices are also included as part of the criteria.

Why is it important to look at this complete framework? The selection process can be overwhelming. As you start to explore solutions you may start to wonder, what software functionality really matters? Even after selecting a solution, who wants to invest in a solution no one uses? Spreadsheets and word documents are very simple and do a reasonable job of capturing requirements, but lack the needed functionality to actually manage and validate requirements. However, if users feel the new solution doesn’t meet their needs, and prefer the simplicity of spreadsheets and word documents, it can be very difficult to convince them to adopt the new solution. No one wants to waste an investment on a solution with the wrong capabilities or poor implementation support. To minimize this risk, what should you look for in a partner to support your implementation? What should you look for to make the software easier to adopt? What types of things should you expect from your software vendor? These are the types of questions the buyers guide will help with.

Even after selecting the right solution and provider, there may be parts of your existing requirements management and validation solution that work very well. Perhaps it would be too disruptive to rip out in existing solution in its entirety and completely replace it. In this case, part of your selection criteria must include considerations for what you have in place already. The buyer’s guide also takes this into consideration.

The buyer’s guide walks you through the process of defining the high level important aspects of a requirements and validation solution for your company. It then provides simple checklists you can use during your buyer’s journey to make the process easier. You can download it here.

Tags: Windchill Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Retail and Consumer Products Connected Devices

About the Author

Michelle Boucher

Michelle Boucher is the Vice President of Research for Engineering Practices for research firm Tech-Clarity. Ms. Boucher has spent over 20 years in various roles in engineering, marketing, management, and as an analyst. She has broad experience with topics such as product design, simulation, systems engineering, mechatronics, embedded systems, PCB design, additive manufacturing, improving product performance, process improvement, and mass customization. She graduated magna cum laude with an MBA from Babson College and earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering, with distinction, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Ms. Boucher began her career holding various roles as a mechanical engineer at Pratt & Whitney and KONA (now Synventive Molding Solutions). She then spent over 10 years at PTC, a leading MCAD and PLM solution provider. While at PTC, she developed a deep understanding of end user needs through roles in technical support, management, and product marketing. She worked in technical marketing at Moldflow Corporation (acquired by Autodesk), the market leader in injection molding simulation. Here she was instrumental in developing product positioning and go-to-market messages. Ms. Boucher then joined Aberdeen Group and covered product innovation, product development, and engineering processes, eventually running the Product Innovation and Engineering practice.

Ms. Boucher is an experienced researcher and author. She has benchmarked over 7000 product development professionals and published over 90 reports on product development best practices. She focuses on helping companies manage the complexity of today’s products, markets, design environments, and value chains to achieve higher profitability.