case study

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Requirements Engineering Capability Growth

Achieving a high level of requirements management maturity in a complex, large scale programme

Client: Network Rail plc

Context

The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) is a signalling and train management system which is intended to enable interoperability throughout the European rail network. Network Rail's ERTMS Programme Team is developing the requirements, design and standards set for the implementation of ERTMS in Great Britain. A rigorous process of requirements decomposition and design is being undertaken to demonstrate traceability and version control and to minimise the risks associated with inappropriate requirements.

What we did

We were commissioned by the ERTMS programme team to help them develop and implement effective requirements management practice.

We are frequently invited to assist our clients to reach higher levels of maturity in the through-life management of the requirements sets of complex, large scale procurement projects. We achieve this through addressing a balanced combination of information architecture, processes, supporting tools and the skills, behaviours and culture of users. In this instance a particular objective was to transfer requirements management skills to the client, thus reducing the need for consultant support in future.

Over the course of the commission we:

  • recommended changes to the information architecture to reduce its complexity, making it as simple and flexible as possible
  • designed the revised information architecture to be easily understood by users and extensible during later design phases without affecting the fundamental structure
  • developed and implemented a requirements change process
  • prepared requirements management plans and work instructions
  • undertook an audit to establish the status and integrity of the programme requirements prior to a major programme milestone
  • established and managed a user support group, with the aim of increasing the productivity and effectiveness of individual users, encouraging a best-practice, quality-driven ethos and improving process compliance
  • delivered 'master-class' workshops aimed at bringing users up the learning curve of best-practice in critical areas such as elicitation, writing good requirements, achieving traceability, change management, verification and validation
  • performed one-to-one mentoring of team members in best-practice aspects of requirements management

A key challenge facing the ERTMS programme is how to handle multiple variants of the requirements set. The challenge arises because each successive ERTMS implementation project will take as a starting point a generic requirements set created and maintained by the ERTMS programme team, but will during implementation contribute additions and refinements to the generic set. Hence there will over time be multiple variants of the requirements set, all of which need to remain traceable to the evolving generic set. This is an area of specialist expertise for integrate, and we were able to help the client meet the challenge of multiple system variants by introducing appropriate processes and supporting tools.

Outcome

integrate's recommended changes to the information architecture were approved and implemented, as were the action items arising from the audit. The commission was successful in achieving effective skills transfer to the client, and integrate's role became one of providing specialist advice and mentoring on a call-off basis.