Blog by Mills Ripley, Customer Solutions Director, Integrity Business Unit
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with a customer who builds advanced industrial control systems. Like many others in the high tech electronics space, this customer has seen software become an increasingly important part of their overall product development. The topic of this particular meeting was the benefits of unified System & Software Lifecycle Management. Attendees included representatives from various product management groups, systems engineering, software development, as well as V & V.
It’s been my observation that the high tech electronics space is different from other systems engineering industry verticals in that their need for software and systems engineering improvements is driven more by market forces than by regulatory forces. It was nice to have this validated by our customer when, while discussing the benefits of comprehensive lifecycle traceability, one of the Systems Engineering team leaders said the following:
“It might be difficult to quantify, but the traceability we’ve seen is outstanding. If you’re making products for the FDA it can make or break your business, but that’s not the case here. For us, traceability is all about making sure we don’t miss stuff and end up doing rework. It’s all about avoiding rework – we don’t have agency requirements or those kinds of things that dictate traceability. We’re trying to get repeatable and predictable in our product development process and this is a great enabler for that.”
He went on to talk about some of the implications of rework avoidance; improved productivity, predictability, and time to market. He’s right, of course. Traceability in a unified SSLM environment is great for compliance and it’s great for Product Management and readiness assessment. It’s great for reuse and product family management. And it’s great for product maintenance, for instance, when a component has a bug in it and we need to find the source of that bug and what other components may also be affected. With all this greatness going around, let’s not forget that traceability is absolutely foundational for effective product line engineering.
There are good and practical reasons for regulation, standardization, and compliance in medical devices, aerospace, automotive, and other safety-critical industries. But it is wonderful to work with a product engineering company in a low-regulatory environment that is adopting modern software and systems engineering practices not because a government or international standards body or industry group tells them to, but because it will help them be more productive, better serve their customers, and get higher quality products to market sooner.
About the title – I sat next to Greg Liszt on a flight from Denver to Boston earlier this week. Greg introduced himself as a banjo player with the bluegrass bands Crooked Still and The Deadly Gentlemen. It turns out Greg was a bit modest in describing his accomplishments. He has succeeded in making a living as a professional musician, and that in itself is no easy task. TDG’s latest CD is called “Carry Me To Home”. Music to my ears… and yours, should you decide to give a listen.