Managing Software-Intensive Products

My mother used to write letters to her family in Italy to stay in touch, and when I was younger I used a LAN line to call my friends and talk the night away. Today my kids use iPhones to play games, check the traffic and weather, and text their friends every five minutes.

Times have changed and so has technology, and software is at the heart of it all.

Today smart connected products and the Internet of Things (IoT) allow us to be connected to our kids, our homes, our workplace, and even our medical providers 24-7. The software is in our cars, mobile phones, pacemakers, and even household appliances makes this possible.

While smart connected products are useful and often fun for the consumer, they bring an even greater set of opportunities (and challenges) to the manufacturers.

Software, present in so many of the things we buy today, makes a product more complex. Because of this, engineering leaders are having to rethink their manufacturing processes and approaches to product development. Now when manufacturers look at product safety, quality and compliance they also need to factor in software.

It’s essential that software is managed appropriately, from proper treatment of product data to ensure compliance with industry standards, to traceability; any changes made within the software development phase must be tracked and managed effectively and efficiently.

A recent IDC Manufacturing Insights report presents the business transformation steps that manufacturers must take to support the development of increasingly complex products, especially those containing embedded software and electronics.

The report concludes that in this new software-intensive world adopting a systems-driven approach to product development is key. This should combine systems engineering with an integrated product definition, and allow for a way to define interdependencies and clearly communicate the impact of changes to the system.

Leveraging and integrating PLM and ALM tools and driving organizational and cultural change to bridge the gap between siloed engineering departments is also critical.