Requirements Management

- a summary guide or tutorial about the basics of Requirements Management within Systems Engineering - what it is and how it may be accomplished.

One of the key elements of a systems engineering process is the management of the requirements.

In order that a system may be developed the requirements must first be determined. Accordingly the requirements management is one of the key processes within any systems engineering process.


Requirements management basics

The requirements management process needs to be undertaken in an orderly fashion if the requirements for the system are to be satisfactorily captured and used as the basis for defining what is needed in the system to be designed.

Broadly, there are four stages in the requirements management process:

  • Requirements gathering:   There are many sources for requirements. Stakeholders such as the user, those manufacturing the system, those maintaining it, as well as marketing and any other interested parties should all be involved.
  • Requirements analysis:   The requirements analysis stage is particularly important, and one that can often go wrong. This stage consists negotiating and determining what the requirements actually mean and which stakeholders' requirements take priority. This stage is where decisions are made about which requirements should be addressed in the system. Often it is easy to accept all requirements which leads to the development being far greater than is actually needed or can be afforded.
  • Requirements organisation:   This stage involves organising the requirements that have been collected in a suitable format - normally classifying them in various ways to make them easier to interpret and user. Often they may be designated functional and non-functional requirements.
  • Requirements approval:   This stage is key to the requirements management and collection process. It involves the sign-off by the various stakeholders that the requirements document adequately defines what is needed in the system or product.

Requirements traceability

One of the key elements of any requirements management process is what is termed traceability. Traceability provides a relations between requirements, design and final implementation of a system. It is particularly important when apportioning requirements to various elements within the design. It is also very important when looking at the final requirements and determining why a given clause in the final product requirement was included, especially if there are questions over it being achieved satisfactorily, or during the integration, verification and validation process where specifications may not be fully met.

In any system, there are many relationships that exist between requirements, design; components and other products and processes of system engineering process. Managing these relationships is critical to providing a comprehensive requirements management capability supporting the system engineering life cycle.

Accordingly, traceability is the term commonly used to refer to the relationships within the requirements documents and the derived documents used within the actual design.

By Ian Poole


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