Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
Küster Automotive GmbH produces components for the automotive industry. Products include door systems, window opener/closer regulator systems, actuating elements, parking breaks, exhaust flaps and embedded control devices for construction machinery.
The challenges confronting the teams at Küster Automotive GmbH (Küster) were typical of almost every Siemens Digital Industry Software’s Polarion customer operating in industries in which compliance with some standard is mandated or desirable. Küster needed to achieve Software Process Improvement and Capability Determination (SPICE) Level 2 and, as is so often the case, the company was finding it difficult to manage a complex process with specifications authored using Microsoft Office® software and shared using PDF files sent by email.
An additional complication, and a major reason for seeking a better solution, was the fact that the company’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers required exchange of specifications in Requirements Interchange Format (RIF) and some kind of system to manage change. “OEMs would send PDF files,” notes Christian Posluschni, team leader – Development Electronics/ Software Development, “and we had no system to effectively manage requirements… no automation, and nothing that was project comprehensive.”
A subsidiary had already purchased a number of licenses for a competing solution, so it seemed logical to simply roll out that product everywhere. An evaluation project was implemented in the electronics and predevelopment departments.
“This trial roll-out project manifested the limitations of the competing solution, and led us to evaluate Polarion ALM,” Posluschni explains.
The evaluation pointed to the need for a single, unified solution for requirements management, as opposed to a loosely integrated conglomeration of point solutions. The solution needed to be able to readily handle RIF, as well as easily implement all traceability and reporting required for Automotive SPICE® Level 2. The possibility to use the same unified solution for test management and test automation in the future would be a major plus.
Küster found the Siemens Digital Industry Software Polarion™ application lifecycle solutions ideally suited to its needs. The all-inclusive solution, with a web-based architecture, would save on both adoption and maintenance costs. The exclusive Siemens Digital Industry Software Polarion LiveDoc™ documents made it a simple matter to transition requirements from desktop docs, with their slow, error-prone management process, to an always-up-to-date online environment with easy authoring coupled with automated workflow. Importantly, the technology was fully adaptable to virtually any process.
Küster also found that import of RIF data from an OEM could be handled by one of the Polarion ALM robust line-up of extensions. The roadmap showed that with version 2014, RIF/ ReqIF would be fully supported in Polarion ALM itself. Plus, there was a clear path to expand into testing and quality assurance that would not require integrations of any kind.
Today, 62 Küster users are employing Polarion ALM to significant advantage. Posluschni cites a number of major benefits that his company has realized from adopting Polarion ALM.
Posluschni explains, “Polarion ALM requirements management has proven quite easy to comply with Automotive SPICE Level 2. The depth and breadth of traceability required is easy to establish.
“The same system that supports our Automotive SPICE compliance also supports us as a part of the OEM supply chain. The ability to use RIF (and soon, ReqIF) to easily read requirements from OEMs and manage all the requirements (theirs and ours) online is of great benefit to us.
“Rather than restricting us, we found that Polarion ALM was open so that we could leverage other tools we already had in place: TortoiseSVN for version control, MATLAB for modeling, and Sparx Systems Enterprise Architect for the Unified Modeling Language UML.
“Polarion ALM requirements management was significantly more affordable than the competing solution. And it was simple to purchase: one single solution that covers everything. No costly integration of several different products. In fact, very little in the way of training and professional services were needed for the roll-out.”
Posluschni notes, “We are pleased with the continuous improvements delivered in the regular updates. Administration is much easier now than when we started out (GUI rather than XML), and we’re looking forward with excitement to the native ReqIF support that’s on the roadmap.”
According to Posluschni, Küster has already broadened the scope of its activities to testing, but there’s more to come. “Currently, test results are collected manually”, he says. “For the future, an automated integration is planned.”