Don’t be a Slave to the Documentation

Janusz Kitel, Requirements Management Specialist
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Are you a requirements engineer but your main goal is to provide well organized documentation? Do you have a great knowledge about the industry, business analysis and systems but you are struggling with the shape and look of your documentation? Do you still hear, for instance, that the specification document is not easy to read and difficult to use?

 

Requirements first

Requirements are the starting point of all other activities in a project lifecycle. So the specification document is crucial for the project. The document has many audiences such us stakeholders, designers, verification engineers and other groups involved in the project. This forces the author of the document to take care of the structure and organization of the document. It is not a big deal to prepare such a document. The problem is that the document has to be modified many times. The requirements are constantly changing, with new features appearing, some being modified and some being removed. Reclassification and reorganization must be repeated many times. In which case, I am pretty sure you will be contending with issues such as auto numbering, indentation, paragraph styles as well as tables and drawings that just do not fit the page.

 

Another kind of trouble comes from collaboration. Requirements should be developed by more than one engineer but working together on the same document is really a challenge. Forgetting to enable Track Changes, using the wrong version of a document or even using different version of Office tools are the most common collaboration issues.

Finally, there may be a situation in which you focus on a document’s structure and aesthetics more than its content. In the end your document may be well prepared but there is a serious risk that the requirements will be ambiguous, incomplete and/or inconsistent. This can happen when huge amounts of energy are spent solely on keeping the document organized and current.

 

Right tool for the job

Now imagine a situation in which you can focus solely on requirements. Bliss. In this situation, the full change history is available, you are sure that you are working with the appropriate version of the requirement and your work is protected from unauthorized modifications. You can make notes or classify requirements according to your needs and define a working view that best suits your tasks and personal preferences; all without worrying about the final structure of the document. Just wishful thinking? Not at all, your life can be greatly simplified using the Requirements Management tool within Aldec’s Spec-TRACER.

 

What about the documentation you have to provide? Spec-TRACER delivers a report designer that allows you create any type of report. A simple user interface allows you to design a report and then generate actual documentation on demand. Furthermore, designing the report could be delegated to a report specialist, enabling you to focus on your responsibilities i.e. to ensure the requirements are clear, unambiguous and consistent.

I'm sure the stakeholders, designers, verification engineers and other project members will appreciate this approach because each team, and even every team member therein, can request a document required for their needs and without engaging you. In addition, such reports may deliver some metrics and calculations from a project, ensuring that data is always up-to-date. This will definitely be valuable to project managers.

 

Conclusion

So, why to be a slave to the documentation? Use Spec-TRACER to capture and manage requirements and Spec-TRACER Reports Manager to generate all of required documentation. Improve the quality of requirements with a professional environment for requirements management. Make the project members are satisfied with the required specification data or project metrics on demand.

Janusz Kitel is a Requirements Management Specialist at Aldec, responsible for Spec-TRACER product. He has 5 years of experience in requirements engineering and over 10 years of experience in product quality assurance. Janusz received his M.S. in Electronics and Telecommunication from Silesian University of Technology and increased his knowledge about software engineering from complementary studies at AGH University of Science and Technology (Poland). His practical engineering experience includes areas in functional verification, DO-254 compliance and software development.

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