Accountable, auditable, compliant – across the collaborative development lifecycle

Su Ross of SyntheSys Systems Engineers Limited explains some of the challenges involved in managing today’s more complex and collaborative development lifecycles.

While the engineering lifecycle, as applied to both software and systems projects, has remained fairly stable for many years, recent trends show a clear shift towards a collaborative lifecycle. The promise is that by making development and process data available to all relevant parties and adding workflow control, projects are accelerated and product quality improved.

However, managing large distributed teams, internally and on the customer’s side, all inputting to the project, raises its own challenges. Imagine trying to manage a product development project that has dozens, even hundreds, of stakeholders. What’s more, these professionals are scattered across different time zones on different continents. And they’re working on multiple projects, too.

At the same time, research reinforces the importance of retaining control of evolving requirements:

  • Error detection in the maintenance phase can cost up to 200 times more than detection early in requirement analysis phase
  • More than 40% of development budget can be consumed by poor requirements
  • Being late to market by 6 months or more will cost organisations 33% of the 5-year ROI


Let’s explore some must-haves…

Can stakeholders believe what they see?
Even the simplest project will have many stakeholders: the core developers, the QA team, testing, the customer’s team…

Those working on collaborative projects must have a centralised, trusted source of the truth, with all stakeholders accessing the same information with a single, up-to-the-minute view of the project, wherever they are located: within the same office or on opposite sides of the planet.

Does control lie in the right hands?
‘Super users’, such as project leads, need to be able to spot anomalies instantly before they can damage quality, compliance, timescales or cost. They need a precise, detailed record, with changes logged with by name and time, so that they can verify changes, query anything that doesn’t make sense, and, if necessary, turn the clock back to before the change.

Project leads must be empowered to view and edit change. In contrast, while you may be happy for the customer to view progress, you probably wouldn't want them interfering directly in the development process!

Uncontrolled change soon sends costs escalating and blows the product development budget. The potential extra costs incurred in making a change need to be visible and negotiated with the customer, rather than accepted without debate.

Can you reproduce success?
Developing products is an expensive business. If you can build on best practice by transferring the details of a component developed on one project to a project, this saves significant time, money and energy.

It’s virtually impossible to capture, trace, analyse and manage requirements in this way using generic Office applications, such as Microsoft Word or Excel. Complex scenarios will soon push these tools beyond their limits. Why not visit the SyntheSys stand at the Advanced Engineering show at the NEC on 1st - 2nd November to discuss the alternatives?

In the meantime, an IBM white paper ‘Ditch the Documents and Spreadsheets’ makes interesting reading in outlining ways to cut development costs while accelerating time to market.

Download now