The cost of failing to plan – why IoT requirements management matters

By | 3 minute read | March 22, 2018

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. Some 200 years later and that’s never been more true. The Internet of Things (IoT) connects humans and ‘things’, creating better user experiences and greater customer delight. It also brings along the need to manage the requirements that define the things themselves. The IoT has radically redefined the meaning of ‘customer experience’. How does it do this? It does this by bringing everyone and everything involved in creating a product together. Involvement starts with the development teams. It moves through sellers, support and maintenance providers; through companies involved with logistics/delivery right through to people like insurers and after-purchase support and warranty providers. When it comes to industrial products the list of parties involved grows even longer. 

What difference requirements management makes for customers

For customers, this collaborative approach brings better experiences and convenience; for product manufacturers and service providers, it delivers additional business value and increases customer retention.

Product developers face new challenges

All of these benefits however place additional requirements on product developers and come with additional needs and requirements. The IoT has created huge challenges for product developers who must now consider the whole ecosystem, not just their product alone.

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Success or failure hinges on requirements management

If you’re a product developer, the success or failure of your connected product depends on how well you manage your requirements while your product is on the drawing board. If your product operates in a regulated industry and must comply with regulations and safety standards it is even more critical to manage appropriately. Product developers in the automobile, airplane, medical device, white goods, and other sectors know this very well.

The cornerstone of successful IoT product development

Requirements management is the cornerstone of successful IoT product/projects. It starts from a project’s very beginning when the initial requirements are gathered. Product developers need ways of keeping track these which are often subject to conflicts such as requests, varying priorities or who thinks which requirements are important.

This need to keep track of requirements continues throughout the project as:

  • New requirements will be added
  • Old requirements will be removed
  • Some needs will change
  • Some will become unfeasible
  • Items that appeared to be without conflict, turn out to have conflicts after all

Why use a requirements management solution?

Product developers need to manage an array of requirements for the myriad of products that will operate in a connected environments. They also need to manage the entire products’ full lifecycle from design right through to deployment, support and possibly even to disposal.It takes a robust requirements management solution that’s fine-tuned for IoT to meet these needs. So what are the advantages of such a solution:

Requirements are better understood

Wider collaboration among business and development stakeholders, maintenance and operations service providers ensures that everyone is on the same page through the development cycle.

Stakeholders are more satisfied.

The ability to more consistently meet real needs by collecting continuous feedback from all the stakeholders for validation and verification builds satisfaction.

Efficiency improves

The ability to deliver products, systems and applications on time and within budget and with significantly fewer product defects/errors leads to efficiency gains.

Utilization improves

Increased collaboration and consistency leads to better utilization of parts across various products.

Better change management

Proposed changes are better assessed for impact not only on individual products, but products working across a connected system.

Better demonstration of compliance with regulations.

Traceability and protected audit trails can be more easily gathered for clearer reporting.

IBM DOORS Next Generation – what makes a great requirements management solution on the cloud for IoT

IBM has a comprehensive portfolio of cloud-based and on-premises offerings for requirements management. In addition to the classic IBM® Rational® DOORS®, a client-server installation that has evolved over more than 20 years, IBM now offers Rational DOORS Next Generation on cloud. It’s a next-generation, web-based collaborative tool, designed for the Internet of Things. With features such as a configuration management mechanism, Rational DOORS Next Generation on cloud is designed for collaboration and provides a single platform to help project teams work more effectively across disciplines, time zones and supply chains. A faster time to value can be realized through a cloud configuration subscription to Rational DOORS Next Generation. On-premises solution options are also available.

“Our business fully embraces technology and is always willing to invest in the best. With IBM Rational DOORS, our clients know that we can support their quality and time-to-market objectives.”
—Head of Project Management, Nagares