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Requirements Engineering in the Energy Industry

Why do we need Requirements Engineering?

Constant and rapid change places new challenges to companies in the energy industry every day. External influences, such as changing customer needs, new and regulatory requirements or new data formats are only a small fraction of the reasons for these challenges. Therefore, the IT infrastructure and the application landscape are growing to a complex structure making efficient enhancements more difficult. In many cases IT projects take longer than planned, higher costs arise or projects cannot be completed successfully.

In the early stages of an IT project, it is even more important to prepare a good basis for successful project implementation. This starts with the requirement analysis phase and at this point the Requirements Engineering method is used. The aim is as follows: to fully define IT requirements, to document them in a high-quality manner, and to manage them throughout their entire life cycle. The focus is to ensure a sustainable and further development of IT infrastructures and applications, thus to proceed effectively and efficiently.

Main contribution of Requirements Engineering

Requirements Engineering is an ideal addition to other project disciplines. These include, in particular, project management, change management and test management in complex software development projects. As a result, Requirements Engineering occurs perfectly in symbiosis with these disciplines and forms the “single point of truth” in the project.

Why is good Requirements Engineering important?

As already mentioned, systems or applications are becoming more and more extensive and complex nowadays. Therefore, it is necessary that all information about how the software or app should “look” like is collected and properly utilized by all parties involved. Requirements Engineering ensures to identify all possible sources, to document the information properly and to check the information against the expectations. Requirements Engineering also contributes to high quality by means of integrated standards. Another important point for companies is that they have to launch their products on the market more quickly, in order not to lose any competitive advantages.

Mistakes in the (further) development of applications are usually associated with high costs, especially if they are discovered in a late project phase (see Fig. 1). Requirements Engineering helps to identify and prevent mistakes at an early stage.

 

Requirements Engineering_Development of Costs
Figure 1: Development of Costs (click to enlarge)

 

What are the benefits of Requirements Engineering?

Primarily, Requirements Engineering combines the individual disciplines within a single project, thus creates the ” single point of truth” and also the first point of contact for all project participants. As a result, the costs are reduced by comparatively few bug fixes occurring in the subsequent phase, the quality of the developed software is increased by coordinated, correct and known requirements, and as a result the customer satisfaction has significantly increased. These factors have decisive effects on the perception of your company at the market and your economic success.

Previously, it was believed that Requirements Engineering could only be used in large and long-term software development projects. Today it is known that Requirements Engineering is much more flexible. Another advantage is the adaptability of Requirements Engineering to the project. The method can be used in a traditional waterfall as well as in an agile environment.

How to deal with Requirements Engineering?

Requirements Engineering consists of four core phases, which are closely connected and have flowing transitions. These phases are elicitation, documentation, validation and management. The phases are embedded in the project management (initiating, executing, closing), whereby Requirements Engineering exists beyond the current IT project as it accompanies the requirements of the software over the entire life cycle. The phases elicitation, documentation and validation can therefore be regarded as a tool for the implementation of the project. They form the basis for the implementation of the desired software, software adaptation or app.

 

Requirements Engineering_Phases of Requirements Engineering
Figure 2: Phases of Requirements Engineering

 

The EXXETA Solution

Although today’s software development focuses on costreduction, the question of time-to-market and the observance of legal requirements in the regulated market of the energy industry, a standardized method such as Requirements Engineering is not always and not consistently applied in projects. As a result, in some software development projects, companies come to realize that the time and budget frames are exceeded or, in worst case, the developed software is not approved by the users. The introduction of Requirements Engineering as a methodology leads to an increase in acceptance and quality in development projects. EXXETA as a partner helps you to make your employees fit for Requirements Engineering through coaching and supports them through many years of project experience Together, we will master a consistent methodical implementation in your company. Feel free to contact us at energy@EXXETA.com.

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