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Copyright Beaver 2000/2005

Beaver Computer Consultants Limited - Consultants in systems engineering for business, mission and safety critical systems

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News Update! Again Standish's latest CHAOS report , the recent POST's Government IT Failures Report , and others conclude that problems with requirements management are still a key contributor to project failure.
A solution? - To learn about the requirements management process, download a free requirements engineering primer, and find out about our DOORS and DXL addins and our on and off site requirements services see here, or here for our ready made DOORS information models.
 

Welcome.  We are an independent systems engineering consultancy formed in 1997 providing requirements management, business and system analysis, modelling, simulation, and project management services to the aerospace, rail, defence and medical device sectors.

We work with clients to create and evaluate requirement documents, design specifications, and acceptance criteria, and where needed collate and review acceptance evidence at all stages of the development process. We also work with clients to define or map processes, identify business focused process improvements, review processes against standards, and configure and integrate tools to help implement processes. Our key focus is on providing process metrics to monitor progress, support decision making through the lifecycle and identify further improvement opportunities. We also provide project office support services to our clients.

We specialise in bringing together the requirements management process with those for configuration management and change control, project, risk and assumptions management. We use best practice process management with full metric reporting of progress, quality and process conformance.  Such an integrated approach provides you with 2 key advantages. Good visibility of the projects health and the ability to quickly and effectively control the project.

Our capability extends to populating requirements documents and specifications using a variety of techniques such as interviews, scenario workshops, existing systems studies, prototyping, modeling using UML or Yourdon, and simulation using CASEwise, Simul8 and Visio. We then structure all elicited needs and resolve any issues such as ambiguity or conflicts. After which we perform verification and validation activities against the agreed requirements, then support the developement of a solution from package or application selection through to delivery based on traceability to agreed business and user requirements.

To manage the development of requirement documents and specifications Beaver can set up and run project and programme offices, using PRINCE based methods, using our experience with requirements traceability and change control processes. We support and advise on tools to support best practices in product flow and change control in project office activities, and can mobilise to support you, on site or remotely, using a number of vendor solutions.

 

We can help improve your existing processes, develop new processes, provide mentoring and training, or run a project for you. Our objective is to assist your business to improve its performance, remove problems, respond to business opportunities and market changes, with confidence through effective management.  When a client wants to specify the requirements for a new system we  ensure what they are asking for is what they really mean and that it is what is actually needed.  Then we monitor the project to ensure that is what they are actually getting.  Quite simply this is the core process.  Our specialty is requirements management and process definition and we offer a range of focused consulting and training services in these areas.   We have a good knowledge of the methods, the work flows in each major discipline,  and how they fit together.  On most pages of our site many of the methods and other resources will be hyperlinked to major offsite resources. We hope you'll use our site as a source of related information and visit us regularly.

 

If you are new to using requirements management tools such as DOORS or Requisite Pro, or you want to develop a process or improve your existing one, based for example on  RUP, DSDM or MSF  or evaluate your process against CMMI, consider using our quick start products or services.  You'll gain years of experience using our predefined information models, databases, and DXL addins together with a detailed requirements and V&V process which we have developed to help you populate and manage the database.  Importantly we'll provide information on how to use the tools to implement the process and really use the tools to do the job.  Most of the off the shelf processes and training is conceptual still leaving you to figure out the "real life how to do" parts and this is where many organisations have to learn to use processes and tools through trial and error.  In to-days market this time is just not available.  Our products provide you with planning and work flow support at the task level. We have the experience and can quickly get you up and running and a fraction of the cost if you had to accumulate the same experience and develop the processes, training materials, and skeleton information models for the databases yourself.  Our process models can be incorporated into  other development methods, such as RUP, they do not duplicate any parts nor replace them, they provide you with added value.  In fact we are converting many of our existing process models into the RUP style format e.g. artefacts, actors, tasks, activity diagrams.  These focus on supporting non-traditional RUP use in areas such as systems engineering and many procurement - commercial frameworks where RUP contains no current implementation guidance for  those environments. We'll be adding demonstration files from our process and tools offerings to this web site soon.  Mean while visit our requirements page for further details, templates, and generic process models.

 

But you may be asking why are requirements so important?  Many projects fail and for many reasons.  Cost and time over runs, missing functionality, and systems that fail to address the real problem are common out comes for many projects.  Research findings published in the CHAOS report from the Standish Group and similar work by Gartner Group suggest up to 75% of new systems or services fail to deliver the expected benefits.  The root causes are inadequate understanding of requirements and specification, failure to manage changing requirements, or through the use of poor development and implementation processes, which do not provide a measure of ongoing confidence or adequately address the management risks and assumptions.  Underlying these factors is the failure to ensure that the solution is both capable of and actually does deliver the business benefit. These issues are particularly true where the system is complex or software intensive, meaning the behaviour is difficult to predict from just looking at the individual components. Often behaviour is emergent in such systems - arising from the interaction of business processes, organisational structure, human behaviour, software applications, and the hardware infrastructure including computers, networks, communications, and machines, as well as the behaviour of the internal environment in which it is installed. This mixture of factors is why a structured and multi-disciplined systems engineering approach can help.

 

The ability to meet the client or business need, function with in the environment in which it operates, and to lever maximum benefit, depends on these factors first being well understood and secondly understanding how the individual elements all come together to deliver the need.  This must  take account of the number of demands made on the system, its reliability, cost, and other factors such as the ability to support and maintain the solution.  These issues will be true whether the solution system is  computer software applications and associated hardware, communication systems, machines making widgets, a bake bean factory, an office work flow system processing regulatory information, a tree foresting business or a software based control system for a transport system or chemical plant.  Modern approaches to successful development management focus on the processes used in its broadest sense.  Consider your own projects and ask your self the following questions :

  • Are your requirements or those of your client un-ambiguous and testable?

  • Are the requirements agreed between the client and supplier, is it agreed as to how the client will accept the solution when delivered, and how failures will be handled? 

  • Is the solution traced back to the agreed requirements? 

  • Do you have evidence that the proposed solution will work and be delivered on time and to budget?

  • Do you know which requirements have changed, as they inevitably will, have they been agreed with the client and the suppliers, and has everything else been updated as a result of the change? 

  • Is the project using an iterative based process, focused on internal and final products, which are frequently produced with the risks and issues understood, and fed into the planning for the next iteration?

  • Do you have a process to guide you though these steps and manage deviations and problems as they arise?

If you have answered no to many of the above then its likely your project already has problems.  Additional resource and hence increased costs will accrue as the problems and agreements are addressed latter during the design, testing or acceptance phases of the project.  Delivery dates could slip.  Many organisations almost consider these outcomes as normal now.  It need not be so.

So our advice is not to just code or procure a solution without addressing these wider issues and understanding the full picture. Risks can be minimised and development times shortened using modern methods to identify existing bottle necks and market needs, capture business and system requirements and accurately establish early on whether a solution actually addresses these needs and delivers an appropriate level of benefit. Before committing to a major build use what-if analysis and prototyping to establish the best solution and producing a proven specification or ITT. Then deliver the solution while managing expectations and changes that naturally occur in any project ensuring that the project stays on focus delivering the business needs and realises the expected benefits. Our services implement this approach.

 

Beaver has expertise in the transport sector and in undertaking safety and performance studies within the requirements and V&V process.  Our experience in these regulated fields has given us an intimate understanding which has been subject to detailed review.  What ever your sector and your needs, from work flow, CRM, and e-business solutions through to call centres, control centres, manufacturing systems, transport, medical and defence sectors, infact just a need to do things better in any sector, we can help.

So how can we help you? We suggest you ask yourselves the questions on this link and see how Beavers experience in applying best practice services can contribute to successful solutions development. On many of the pages you'll see resource links and which are summarised on our Web Links page. These links will take you to various government bodies, independent organisations, and commercial companies who have excellent background information available on line on a range of topics. Visit them and inform your self. When your ready come back and talk to us about growing and improving your business and ensuring your next project or programme is a success.

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