Vacon is driven by a passion to develop, manufacture and sell the best AC drives and inverters in the world. Our AC drives offer optimum process control and energy efficiency for electric motors. Vacon inverters play a key role when energy is produced from renewable sources. In this article I will talk briefly about some challenges we face, and how Polarion's requirements management solution has helped us.
First a little background. Vacon has production and R&D facilities in Europe, Asia and North America, and sales offices in 30 countries. In 2013, Vacon’s revenues amounted to EUR 403.0 million, and the company employed globally approximately 1,600 people.
Growth drives need for better processes and tools
Vacon is relatively young company (established 1993) and it has grown from a local to a global company. Therefore our processes and tools related to requirements management needed some update. Polarion ALM was a solution that proved a perfect match to our needs. Traditional tools that we had (like Microsoft Word and Excel®), were no longer meeting our needs for global product management and development. Polarion was good choice for Vacon to update our toolbox.
New requirements management process
To be able to make winning products in the future, it is important to understand our customers' challenges and problems: not necessarily what they want, but what they need. This needed to be not only reflected in our requirements, but also communicated and understood throughout the product design and development process. Another key objective was to collect product requirements more efficiently in the early phase of new product design process.
Our requirements management process starts from the product requirements. A product owner has a key role in gathering customer needs and communicating those to product development, now by using Polarion. Various product requirements are inputs to a system requirement, which covers the whole product platform. A platform is then divided to sub-modules and components, i.e. technical requirements specification for something. Our V-model process also involves verification, where each requirement type Work Item is verified.
New tool – Polarion ALM
There is a saying that, “if you can't measure, you can't improve”. This was true in our case. One important selection criteria for our new tool was flexibility and easiness of report creation. Our control and software development is using Agile methods and Polarion provides good base for that as well.
Now that we have a solution for requirements in place and working well for us, we will start building interfaces to various other tools (e.g. automated testing), and integrating the functional safety process to Polarion, begin utilizing FMEA, plus managing other smaller development activities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kari Haavisto is Manager for Product Management Excellence at Vacon (www.vacon.com)
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