Product Requirements Management across Domains for the Lifecycle

Product requirements management is a vital part of the development process. Traditional product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions offer a core set of functionalities to address this need. But new challenges demand increased capabilities, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) PLM solutions are up to the task.

Read the Lifecycle Insights eBook, “The Product Development Dilemma: Five Strategies for Product Development Leaders to Satisfy Product Requirements and Meet Delivery Deadlines. Read the companion eBook in this series, “Building Smart, Connected Products: Leading Manufacturers Reduce Product Development Challenges with These Key Technology Enablers.” The concepts, ideas and positions of the blog post and eBooks have been developed independently by Industry Analyst Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insights.

Satisfying Requirements: A Top Driver of Change

Anyone who works in product development understands just how dynamic such processes can be—and the costs involved when they go awry. So manufacturers are embracing a host of initiatives to meet current pressures and demands and improve different aspects of product development. To better understand some of these initiatives, Lifecycle Insights conducted the 2020 Engineering Executive’s Strategic Agenda study late last year.

Unsurprisingly, 30% of survey respondents ranked “satisfying target requirements” as their top issue, while 23% ranked it in second place. The data was clear: Finding ways to adequately satisfy target requirements was a leading driver of change for organizations. This trend continued throughout the entire study.

So how can a company make improvements to better satisfy requirements? This post will highlight the benefits of capabilities that span design domains, functional departments, and suppliers. It will also examine the role software-as-a-service (SaaS) PLM solutions play in more streamlined requirements management.

Product Requirements Management in Modern Development

At the beginning of the product development process, customer requirements are stringently documented, broken down into sub-requirements, and then allocated to the various design domains responsible for specific aspects of the product. These include the business requirements as well as functional requirements detailing the essential performance, reliability, and technical specifications for the design.

In the detailed design stage of the product development process, engineering teams in each domain develop design solutions that address, fulfill, and satisfy the precise list of requirements. This task requires careful analysis and problem solving. As the engineering organization considers different solutions, they must take care to meet not only the sub-requirements, but also the higher-level requirements that inspired them.

It is no surprise that an inadequate requirements management process can lead to costly downstream problems. Managing this process can be onerous, and requires careful documentation and oversight. A company’s requirements management competency should be multi-faceted. It needs to include the roles that define and allocate requirements, as well as the formal checkpoints and validation steps for requirements satisfaction. Technology is also important—specifically PLM solutions with requirements management to document and track requirement definitions throughout product development. But it is just as critical that requirements management capabilities are integrated with other capabilities like multidisciplinary BOM management, project and program management, and much more. The use of these solutions for requirements-driven design helps manufacturers meet all design requirements and address any potential issues in the earliest stages of the design process.

SaaS PLM and Requirements Management

The continuing evolution of what manufacturers need to effectively manage requirements, however, doesn’t end there.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are increasingly sourcing entire systems—not just components—to suppliers. That means there is more design work being pushed down in the supply chain where requirements have already been allocated. Despite the fact that this work is being outsourced, OEMs need to track and manage all requirements. It’s even more important that organizations work from a single source of truth that can be shared across different engineering departments, and between OEMs and suppliers, ensuring everyone is on the same page early and throughout development. Then everyone can make sure that all requirements are being effectively satisfied.

SaaS PLM solutions can help here. These cloud-based solutions offer unprecedented capabilities to support mobility, scalability, and collaboration—and they are already up and running. Such systems require minimal IT support and are easy to integrate with other SaaS solutions. This makes them a natural fit for suppliers, particularly smaller companies, whose engineering teams can quickly and easily use such tools to guide them as they work on outsourced product designs. These platforms make it simple for organizations to pass updates back and forth across the supply chain.

When you put it all together, it becomes clear that SaaS PLM solutions are a strong fit for companies that are looking for more effective ways to define, track, and manage requirements across design domains, functional departments, and the supply chain. These solutions offer capabilities that can streamline the requirements management process and help organizations save time, money, and unnecessary rework during product development.

Takeaways

As more organizations are looking for ways to improve the product development process, many have an eye toward refining their requirements management capabilities, especially to more closely integrate them with BOM management, project management, and more. Companies have historically managed this essential part of design using traditional PLM solutions. But now, they need expanded capabilities thanks to new challenges, including rising product complexity and the increasing reliance on suppliers to build components and entire machines. SaaS PLM solutions are the answer to this problem.

Read the Lifecycle Insights eBook, “The Product Development Dilemma: Five Strategies for Product Development Leaders to Satisfy Product Requirements and Meet Delivery Deadlines. Read the companion eBook in this series, “Building Smart, Connected Products: Leading Manufacturers Reduce Product Development Challenges with These Key Technology Enablers.” The concepts, ideas and positions of the blog post and eBooks have been developed independently by Industry Analyst Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insights.

For more on this topic, read our blog about integrated requirements engineering and watch this webinar about best product requirements management tools.

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