As 2019 gets further underway (it’s February already?), we’re thinking about the changes we can expect from the requirements management space this year. Last week, we wrote about the Engineering.com report we sponsored, which found that while more than 90% of design and engineering teams agreed that their products had become more complex over the last five years, only 15% relied on a dedicated requirements management solution.
That got us wondering how teams will change their approach to requirements management over the next five years.
To get a feel for requirements management trends in 2019 and beyond, we spoke with three experts at Jama Software:
- Michael Jastram, Solutions Architect in Customer Success, based in our Amsterdam office
- Robin Calhoun, Senior Product Manager, based in our Portland, Oregon headquarters
- Steve Gotsch, Director of Product Management, also based in Portland
Here are their predictions for the requirements management trends to watch this year.
Requirements management will grow more complicated – and more essential.
Requirements management continues to be a priority for product development teams and will only become more complicated as a result of increasingly complex product designs and more hardware/software integrations. The growing complexity of requirements will drive the need for dedicated tools that save time, reduce errors and streamline collaboration and review cycles.
In the requirements management space, says Jastram, “things are changing faster and faster. Transformation is taking place on many levels, and they all affect requirements: at the organizational level, at the regulatory level and obviously on the product level. This trend is driven primarily by complexity, and Jama is addressing that complexity through its platform.”
Requirements management is growing into requirements modeling.
Jastram thinks requirements modeling is becoming “a huge trend,” though he doesn’t see it becoming mainstream in more heavily regulated industries for several years.
Requirements modeling is already a familiar concept in software, where it’s leveraged to test the system or application under development to establish a clear relationship between tests and requirements. Jastram notes that companies like Boeing and Airbus are already building “all-encompassing system models of their products,” but that “these are exceptions and not the rule.”
Systems modeling helps teams focus on the system’s external behavior, apart from its internal design; describe stakeholder needs with more precision; reduce gaps and inconsistencies in requirements; and cut down on the work associated with requirements change.
When it comes to managing requirements, Jastram suggests that modeling can help teams deal with the huge complexity of today’s – and tomorrow’s – products: “This will be a really big thing for the first company that does it right,” he says.
More organizations will invest in requirements management solutions.
As the Engineering.com study revealed, not everyone is using a dedicated requirements management tool, but companies are increasingly aware of the importance of managing risk and improving their development process.
According to Calhoun, “Managing risk is becoming more common with more companies focusing on medical devices and the continued confluence of hardware and software.”
This increase in complexity and in the amount of data that must be incorporated throughout the development process drives the need for companies to find a stronger way to manage requirements. Our product team thinks of requirements as the “steel thread” that ties together all the data throughout the product or application lifecycle.
As the Engineering.com report also noted, heavily regulated industries like medical devices, automotive, and aerospace and defense are more likely to depend on dedicated requirements tools. For less heavily regulated industries, Jastram notes, investing in requirements management may seem prohibitive, especially if teams don’t understand the value they can realize by transitioning away from a document-based approach.
Instead of emailing versioned documents back and forth, less regulated industries can derive huge value from using a requirements management platform to support their product development processes. These tools enable more efficient communication between users and stakeholders, streamline the review process, speed time-to-market and establish traceability to ensure you’re building the product you set out to build.
Requirements management practices globally are aligning, as US companies look to EU markets as examples.
Gotsch notes that there’s “an effort to better align practices globally using risk and FMEA and the Germany auto industry as an example.” Jastram agrees, adding that requirements management in the German automotive and aerospace industries is “considered fairly mature,” while Gotsch and Calhoun acknowledge that US companies have sometimes been notorious for doing product development on the fly. However, Calhoun says, this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach isn’t how the most valuable and successful companies work.
“US companies are maturing in their approach to requirements in the software and hardware space as complexity and interactivity grows,” Calhoun says. “The lessons from EU markets are becoming more the norm: more standards, more tools, more regulations and more predictability.”
Requirements management tools will change to meet the expectations of younger teams.
Calhoun and Gotsch predict that requirements management tools will become more intuitive and efficient, in part to meet the expectations of a younger workforce. “The younger generation of the workforce is (still) coming up in experience and influence,” Calhoun says. “There’s an increasing need for enterprise tools to begin catering to their expectations — which are efficient, modern and fast — to attract and keep talent. Companies no longer have the aging workforce’s willingness to work around inefficiencies.”
The best tools and platforms will be value-driven, not feature-driven.
Jastram, who worked in software development and requirements management before earning a PhD with an emphasis in requirements modeling, says the most successful requirements solutions of the future will be value-driven.
Rather than incorporating feature after feature, the best platforms will add value across the product development lifecycle by understanding and supporting business practices. Jastram cites Risk Management Center for Jama Connect as a value-based feature that supports and accelerates the work teams are already doing, rather than rolling out feature after feature that, in Jastram’s words, “look good on paper, but don’t really help your practice.”
To learn more about the changing landscape of product development and requirements management, check out the report we sponsored: Design Teams: Requirements Management & Product Complexity.