Products and services are only as good as you build them, and satisfying the expectations of your end users is critical.
To ensure you factor in the needs of your customers as well as regulatory conditions and supply chain information, you need a robust methodology. Requirements management helps with compliance and assessing technical needs and market factors. Gathering enough data early on can help streamline attention, resources, and processes.
This guide explores requirements management with a focus on hardware development. It demonstrates how proper requirements management can help you track and document parts, requirements, and changes to overcome obstacles and streamline efficiency.
What is requirements management?
Requirements management is the process of capturing, analyzing, documenting, tracking, and managing the requirements for a hardware product before the early stages of the product lifecycle.
It includes user requirements, functional/non-functional requirements, business requirements, and more technical requirements.
Combining these aspects allows you to create a better hardware product with desired features and performance based on a solid design, development, and testing process.
Additionally, managing your requirements throughout the product lifecycle helps ensure clarity and align stakeholders’ interests, facilitating efficient team collaboration.
Defining a requirement
A requirement serves a few major functions: it describes a solution’s functionality and value, defines what you need to create, and identifies the needs of the product and any desired appearance or characteristic.
An example requirement might be, “The weight of this specific component should not exceed 300 grams.” Keep this top of mind as you read through the next section.
- Necessary: Aligning the project’s objectives with necessary features or functionalities delivers an integral and essential product. In our example, perhaps the final product’s performance is impacted if its components are too heavy. In this case, it’s necessary for the component to meet the weight requirement for the product to perform as intended.
- Specific: Product requirements should be specific, leaving no room for ambiguity. You should clearly outline your expectations so development teams understand these requirements and maintain clear communication. A maximum weight of 300 grams is specific enough to be understood by all team members.
- Understandable: A reasonable requirement is easily comprehensible to stakeholders involved at all channels. There should be a baseline understanding free from jargon and overly technical terms.
- Accurate: Ensure your requirement is free of errors and contradictions and clearly depicts the intended outcome.
- Feasible: Your requirements should be realistic and attainable. Proper project management using agilemethodology incorporates SMART goals to confirm realistic attainability. In our example, your Design and Development teams would need to collaborate to determine if the 300 gram maximum is possible.
- Testable: The requirements of your products or services should be measured and verified. This may include prototypes, integrations, and other test cases to determine if you’ve successfully implemented the prerequisites. Our example requirement is easy to test — simply weigh the component to ensure it’s under 300 grams. If it is, it meets the requirement.
Who is responsible for requirements management?
Project and product managers are typically the ones who take the ultimate responsibility for requirements management.
They work with product teams throughout the hardware development process, helping them define, document, and communicate all requirements.
But ultimately, the entire organization should be encouraged to collaborate for a better experience.
With requirements management software, like Valispace, your team can track and manage your requirements in a centralized and organized location, improving collaboration and reducing errors.
Types of requirements
Here are some common types of requirements to consider:
High-level objectives that capture your company’s directions are business requirements and things related to your product’s overall purpose and strategy. Examples include financial considerations, consumer trends, and other market needs.
You should always take into account the needs and expectations of the end user and hold them as a priority during requirements development. Your requirements should focus on their needs, experiences, and expectations during the hardware development process.
You must communicate requirements from the user’s perspective by addressing usability, interactions, and the user experience. Examples include performance expectations, customizations referenced from feedback, and compatibility with existing platforms.
Functional and non-functional requirements
Requirements specification should focus on the essential and non-essential parts of your product. This will avoid rework and enable the product and project teams to determine what is necessary.
Functional requirements should be specific with behaviors, features, and capabilities that are a must in the development and planning process. These include user authentication, search functionality, and proper order processing.
Non-functional requirements may still be essential, but not to develop the initial prototype. First, ensure a minimum viable product works before adding the bells and whistles.
Some standard non-functional requirements include the qualities and constraints of a product, like the scalability of your product, security, market performance, and product reliability.
In the requirements-gathering process, your technical requirements outline specifications to which the product must adhere. Examples include hardware components, compatibility, and software development/integration.
When you track requirements, be as detailed as possible — especially if the technical specifications must comply with regulatory bodies.
Six steps in the requirements management process
Now that we’ve defined what requirements management is in the hardware product development lifecycle, let’s dive deeper into the process itself.
The first phase is collecting all the necessary and relevant requirements for the hardware product. This involves engaging team members and vendors and creating your requirements document. You can collect requirements through workshops, interviews, and surveys to capture expectations and needs.
Once you’ve collected all data and requirements, it’s important to analyze them to ensure consistency, clarity, and completeness.
When analyzing your project requirements, start by reviewing and refining them where they make sense.
The analysis phase helps identify gaps or misinformation, which enables you to understand the feasibility and overall impact these requirements will have on your final product.
3. Selection and documentation
Before the development process begins, the requirements must be described in a clear and straightforward manner — and they must be evaluated and approved by all stakeholders.
After the analysis phase, select your most essential and practical requirements. When selecting these, think about the requirements that will have the most significant impact and work your way down as needed.
Create a requirements specification document that concisely describes each requirement and its description, use, and purpose. Documentation is vital for requirements traceability, which can improve your process in real-time and keep on top of requirements changes for all stakeholders involved in the project.
4. Prioritization and maintenance
After you’ve identified and adequately documented all relevant requirements, you may find more than you expected. It’s best to prioritize the criteria based on urgency, importance, and impact to determine what’s necessary and what you can address later. Prioritization also helps you allocate resources to create a more efficient process.
You need to maintain product and system requirements throughout development so you can better accommodate changes, new insights, and updates that will undoubtedly arise throughout the project.
This maintenance should also extend to change management requests, impact analysis, and workflow evolutions, updating your document when necessary.
5. Verification and validation
Verification involves checking and reviewing your requirements against your criteria after the product has been built to comply with industry/company standards, and overall regulations.
Validation focuses on evaluating your requirements against metrics and user expectations and demands so that they meet or exceed their intended purpose.
Requirements management is an ongoing process, and it requires continuous maintenance. This includes monitoring and tracking the requirements throughout the development lifecycle, addressing any changes or updates, and ensuring that the requirements remain accurate, up-to-date, and aligned with the evolving needs of the hardware product.
To align the evolving needs of the hardware product, delegate maintenance to a focused team. This allows you to make changes and communicate them as needed, keeping your teams on task and on track.
Benefits of practical requirements management
You’ll enjoy the following benefits by streamlining your requirements management process:
Minimized risks and issues
When requirements are well-defined throughout the product development process, you can easily document and communicate them. This reduces ambiguity and any misunderstandings.
Identify potential and actual risks and address them proactively to mitigate their effects. Unexpected challenges are inevitable, but an effective requirements management process will lead to a smoother hardware development process.
Clearly defining and documenting requirements can guarantee that you are meeting the necessary guidelines.
Practical requirements management helps you reduce the risk of legal issues and non-compliance by enhancing safety and mitigating potential problems early on.
Effective requirements management facilitates better traceability for inspections, site reviews and formal audits later on and demonstrates excellent reporting etiquette.
Efficient development and testing
Efficient development and testing are always an outcome of requirements management, as your developers will better understand the desired functionality and how they can deliver any expected results more purposefully.
Testers can create test and use cases based on scenarios that run on your requirements document, which results in a holistic testing environment that assures quality and meets all criteria.
Improved project planning and estimation
Clearly defining your requirements will let everyone move with purpose and forge ahead with the confidence necessary to create a sound plan for the product.
Teams can better allocate resources and provide accurate timelines, especially regarding pricing, milestones, and other estimations. You can enable project managers to create more realistic project plans and make informed decisions throughout the development lifecycle.
Traceability and impact analysis
Requirements management involves tracing action, changes, and different aspects of the process, which becomes more difficult to track the further away you are from the initial concept phases.
Updating your documents in real time allows you to track and trace your project more effectively, allowing your team to understand dependencies and determine any impact changes have made — positive or negative.
A well-managed requirements management process should include a comprehensive requirements traceability matrixthat can manage changes and assess their consequences to make more informed decisions.
Utilizing the right tools to enhance the requirements management process
Leveraging the right tools to streamline the requirements management process is crucial. The ideal tool will provide you with the functionality necessary that enable you and your team to effectively manage, capture effectively, and track requirements that enhance your efficiency and collaboration.
Duro’s product lifecycle management (PLM) software centralizes product-related processes in a single source of truth. Our integration with Valispace, a cloud-based requirements management platform, ensures that your requirements are pulled into Duro to ensure compliance once the product is designed and built.
Elevate the requirements management process with Duro
Requirements management is critical throughout the entire journey of hardware creation, management, and deliverables. Duro’s PLM solution can help you achieve an overall more efficient process through simplification and better collaboration.
Additionally, our integration with Valispace is vital to making data-driven decisions that power change management, impact analysis, identification, documentation, and traceability.
Request a free demo today. See how Duro can benefit your business.