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Integrated Product Management: New approach to software tools and processes for the systems engineer

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 7:43am
Steve Shoaf, IBM Rational

The demand for smarter products is driving manufacturers and service providers to look for new, innovative ways to differentiate their products and enable them to be easily configurable for highly individualized usages.

However, because most manufacturers now rely on a global network of design partners and suppliers to create highly sophisticated products, smarter product development has become increasingly complex. Companies require product and systems development capabilities that can balance the trade-offs between product features, quality, time to market, and profitability.

We need a better systems engineering approach, one that can manage these complex product interrelationships across engineering disciplines, and it has to support: 

• Implementing or improving systems modeling to manage and validate interrelationships 
• Enhancing requirements engineering, traceability and quality 
• Managing, sharing, and validating changes across disparate teams and development disciplines with change management solutions

IPM-illustration

Specifically, a holistic, integrated methodology for systems engineering and software development is needed to rapidly deliver high-quality products and systems. Recently, IBM has advanced the concept of “Integrated Product Management” to the marketplace, which is an approach to software engineering that helps teams design, deliver and manage smart product development. Integrated Product Management connects four key disciplines that span the systems and software development lifecycle: 

• Requirements management, which manages system and software requirements to support the efficient engineering of the right products while addressing compliance and regulations 
• Model-driven systems development, which explores the behavior and functionality of systems and software before and as they are built to improve development efficiency 
• Collaboration and change management, which enables distributed teams across the lifecycle to efficiently work together to enhance product quality and development efficiency while fostering innovation 
• Quality management, which facilitates high-quality, security-rich product development to improve development efficiency and reduce warranty costs

By enabling product lifecycle management across the hardware, electrical and software engineering domains, the IPM approach helps streamline product development and accelerate time to market for new products. As a result, IPM helps facilitate greater marketplace penetration and the creation of “the next big thing,” which can command a premium price.

Organizations worldwide that incorporate IPM solutions into strategic business processes can achieve the process flexibility and performance needed to address the demands of today’s—and prepare for tomorrow’s—complex, interconnected world.

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