As products become more complex, so do their requirements. Requirements come from multiple sources: industry standards, regulations, customer needs, and company initiatives. By ensuring changes in requirements are automatically communicated throughout the lifecycle, organizations can increase transparency amongst stakeholders, provide traceability to determine the root cause of issues, and ensure regulation compliance. With an effective requirements management process, stakeholders can make better decisions based on the most up-to-date product information.
Despite these well-documented benefits, I often hear many misconceptions voiced about using a requirements management system. Here are the top 5 false statements I frequently hear about managing requirements:
1. I’m already managing requirements in my product lifecycle management (PLM) system. I don’t need a dedicated requirements management solution.
Actually, you aren’t managing your requirements in your PLM system. You’re just managing a requirements document. The difference between managing requirements and managing a requirements document is significant. When you manage a requirements document in your PLM system, users need to continuously open and inspect the document to make sure no changes have been made. This isn’t an issue if your requirements document is only a couple of pages and the changes are major and noticeable. But if your product is complex, then your requirements document is probably the size of a book. In addition, if the changes made are minor, finding them can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. By using a dedicated, yet integrated solution that manages requirements as individual but connected entities, changes are automatically communicated to the specific task or part that they correspond to. This gives users more time to complete tasks and less time scouring a requirements document.
2. I don’t have an issue with rework so this isn’t a problem for me.
Just because rework is not an issue now, doesn’t mean that – as your product line progresses and your company continues to grow and manufacture more complex products – rework won’t become a problem in the future. Adopting a requirements management system now can keep you ahead of potential problems down the line, while also ensuring you continue to meet product, customer, and industry requirements.
3. My product requirements are too simple to need a requirements management solution.
Again, your products may be simple now, but as your company continues to grow, your products and product lines may become more complex. Our work with companies of all size has shown that good product requirements may start simple, but during analysis there are decomposed, refined and completed. A few simple requirements lead to a full hierarchy of various kinds of requirements (functional, usability, performance, safety, etc.) with clearly defined acceptance criteria and their traces to test and validation procedures. Managing requirements for multiple customers and more complex products can become a headache and could lead to problems such as noncompliance, rework, and product recalls. It’s better to get ahead of this now before you find yourself swimming in pages of requirements without a clue where changes have been made.
4. Only safety-critical products need a requirements management solution.
It’s true that automotive, aerospace and defense, and medical device manufacturers need a requirements management solution. However, all manufacturers can benefit from having a system that automatically cascades changes to requirements to the tasks or parts that are affected by the changes. This automation ensures that you’re meeting product and customer requirements – again, leading to fewer recalls and rework and more happy customers.
5. Documenting and managing requirements takes up too much time that could be better spent actually designing and building the product.
This is a typical misconception when requirements have been managed manually and traces are tracked using Excel-based matrixes. With a requirements management solution, requirements made in the requirements document are automatically cascaded to the related task and part, allowing stakeholders to instantly be notified about a change. Not only does this save time for stakeholders who would need to peruse hundreds of pages in a requirements document to ensure they’re up-to-date on requirements, but it also prevents costly rework and product recalls down the line.
And, frankly, if you think documenting requirements is a waste of time, you should get in touch with us. We have a lot to discuss.
Click here to learn more about the benefits of managing requirements.