Innovation has become an exercise of advancing embedded systems to stay ahead in the highly competitive automotive industry. While opening up great new opportunities, integration of software into mechatronics also presents unprecedented challenges to development teams.
This series of articles presents an in-depth look at the challenges facing the rapid advance of mechatronics in the automotive industry, and discusses business best practices gleaned from our customers successfully using Polarion solutions to meet the challenges. Part 1 was an overview of the challenges. In this second article, we’ll begin looking at strategies for mastering them.
Effective Real-Time Collaboration Across Disparate Teams
Innovative automotive customers report that the ability to harness contributions from across the entire ecosystem has become a key factor for ongoing advancement, and the synchronization between the different engineering teams within their organizations and their suppliers around the globe has evolved into one of their main concerns. They point out the great value their disparate stakeholders derive from cross-functional collaboration in real time whenever questions arise, taking advantage of Polarion’s 100% browser- based solution.
No longer do they have to wait for email responses or worse, meetings, to get answers to pressing questions. Instead, they can take advantage of the always-up-to-date online environment with live dashboards and wikis as well as access-controlled threaded commenting. Subscriptions for automated event monitoring and change notifications further enhance the rapid knowledge transfer.
Document-centric team members appreciate the fact that they can easily import existing work product into the online tool using the patented Polarion Import Wizard™.
Once unfettered by the limitations of desktop application-based documentation, granular Work Items can be established and Workflows can be kicked off individually, so team members can start working on them without having to wait for the full documentation to be completed.
Better yet, team members fond of editing capabilities of the Microsoft® Office suite don’t have to worry about losing any of their productivity. Once online, they can enjoy Polarion’s patented LiveDoc™ technology, which comes with much of the same user- friendly functionality, but without the distractions of bloated desktop tools. Automotive customers tell us that even die-hard users of traditional desktop applications have been surprisingly easy to convert. As soon as their counterparts start reporting that document management almost seems easier in the online environment, while providing the power of contextual access to information, adoption hurdles quickly dissolve. This has proven to be of great help in migrating stakeholders that author and manage requirements into the online environment.
Besides contextual collaboration as one critical factor for shortened cycles and faster time to market, workflows also play a key role. Any time you have diverse groups within and outside the organization working together on a project as is the case in the complex automotive ecosystem, the resulting complexity of the operation becomes a challenge. Governing the way the work gets done becomes imperative given all the tight regulations and importance of functional safety. A sophisticated workflow engine with the ability to enforce business rules across company boundaries is essential to insure team coordination and cooperation success.
Polarion customers confirm that the ease with which streamlined workflows can be established at the work item level makes task-oriented information exchange between development, operations, and quality assurance a breeze. Templates for most common methodologies come with the tool that can be used ‘out of the box’ to get teams started, and rapidly configured to map to specific business scenarios. At the same time, incorporated process automation and domain-specific templates are available to safeguard that no steps are missed or bypassed.
With one centralized repository at the core of all activities serving as the single source of truth, the capabilities have helped development teams transform how they collaborate regarding key processes like ideation, requirements management, detailed development, and aftermarket support. In fact, the centralized nature of information exchange enables development teams sitting in different locations (or even in completely separate organizations) to effectively convey automotive design ideas, intent, and context much faster than the use of email, instant messaging, and teleconference calls can achieve. And the functionality not only brings distributed teams “closer digitally,” but it also fosters the healthy discussion of product concepts across business and domain areas that is so important for ongoing innovation.
Beyond that, comprehensive traceability allows developers to refer back to the requirements that underlie their assigned tasks, plus reach out to the respective author when they have questions. The same applies to the testers that verify whether the requirements have been met. All activities and decisions are automatically tracked, with collaboration history available to reveal how decisions were made every step along the way. Formal approval processes with compliant e-signatures complete the information exchange. All this functionality contributes to a much more cohesive way of cooperation in today’s complex automotive ecosystem. Customers confirm that using Polarion has allowed their development and quality assurance teams to spend much more time and focus on the left side of the V-Model, and catch issues before they become problems.
Domain experts who want to stay in their familiar environment can do so and still be tied into the centralized repository. Polarion’s native integration with MATLAB® for instance allows customers to include Simulink® Model-Based Design workflows as an integral part of their application lifecycle. Bi-directional traceability facilitates navigation from Simulink model elements to associated Polarion work items and vice versa. Versioning aids collaborative design, opening up the assets for easy reuse and variant management across an entire automotive portfolio. This goes back to the critical factor of having to be able to establish an effective way to bring tailor-made vehicles to market quickly mentioned in Part 1 of this series.
Another native integration that’s popular among automotive customers is the round-trip for RIF/ReqIF where traceability across multiple documents or tools is maintained. The Object Management Group’s (OMG's) standard for requirements exchange, a widely used XML file format and workflow to support lossless exchange between partners, brings OEMs and their suppliers together around the globe. As automotive suppliers are becoming increasingly involved in strategic development initiatives and provide mission-critical innovative functionality that has to seamlessly fit into the overall development efforts, this is critical for successful collaboration.
In Part 3 of this series, we’ll continue looking at strategies: Proactive Protection of Quality and Functional Safety
"With Polarion, we found the solution to both of our biggest pain points: achieving SPICE compliance and enabling us to seamlessly fit into the OEM supply chain."
— Christian Posluschni, KU?STER Automotive