IBM’s Thinking Behind ELM and Meeting the Scale of Increasing Product Development Complexity

Is the complexity of product development and software engineering increasing… or has it increased already? The answer is, both.

The thing about engineering and developing new products is that complexity is constant, and that it increases continually as technology and innovation accelerate. For instance, we know that software drives everything now, but that technologies such as AI and IoT are still relatively in the early stages of transforming how new intelligence-driven products are developed.

So measured on a scale of innovation, AI, machine learning, IoT and the like are still accelerating. And measured by the impact they’re making in the product engineering realm, the scale of resulting complexity is increasing. Rapidly.

IBM understands this, and has upgraded its Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM) solution accordingly. With ELM version 7.0, they’ve paid ultra-close attention to the factors that are intensifying product development and software engineering complexity the most. Chief among them:

• Industry standards for critical safety systems

• The quantity and complexity of requirements

• The size and structure of development architectures

• The number of tests and the depth of their scopes

• Exponentially growing lines of code

From IBM’s view

Dibbe Edwards is Vice President, IBM Watson IoT Connected Products Offerings, Delivery and Support and has been instrumental in getting ELM to its new 7.0 level. In further detail, she discussed IBM’s reasoning behind the efforts to upgrade ELM in a November 2019 blog post, parts of which we’ve summarized here.

“Engineering a car is challenging. Engineering a safe, autonomous car is exponentially more difficult. As products become more connected, the engineering becomes more complex. For example, medical devices now have millions of lines of embedded software code. Aircraft manufacturers need to comply with complex safety standards designed to protect the lives of pilots and passengers. Think about how many of the items in our daily lives have become modern day marvels of software engineering. These complex products require a modern-day approach to engineering lifecycle management, a way to balance both the need for speed to market and safety, and a way to deliver it at scale."

Complexity is increasing

“Designing and developing software-driven products requires processes that are capable of scaling the systems that deliver the systems. Decisions must be made in the midst of ever-expanding levels of supplier collaboration. Real-time collaboration is often happening among product development teams in different time zones who may speak different languages. So, what’s the secret to successfully navigating today’s engineering environment? It starts with finding a single source of truth across product engineering data, a beacon that teams can follow to provide access and traceability throughout the product lifecycle.

“(IBM has) partnered with our clients to help them to build the most complex assets on the planet: cars, planes, electronics, medical devices and more. As complexity increases, IBM has now made our Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM) solution even smarter. The newest enhancements to ELM harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to help design, build and scale with the precision our world class customers demand. Recently, IBM Engineering launched Requirements Quality Assistant (RQA) with Watson to help product engineering teams improve the quality of their requirements, minimize risk and improve time to market — while they’re being written. And now, RQA will be (is) available for both DOORS and DOORS Next customers.”

IBM ELM Managed Services by ClearObject

In tandem with IBM’s ELM effort, IBM worked with ClearObject to create the cloud-based offering for IBM ELM Managed Services by ClearObject, which features a complete integration layer for ELM structured by IBM. With end-to-end integration between core engineering functions for Requirements, Test, Workflow Management, and Systems Design (MBSE), these managed services give product development teams a hosted ELM-based quality requirements management configuration and solid architecture managed across the lifecycle of enterprise scale. As Software as a Service (SaaS), entire product development organizations can also participate globally and evaluate developed concepts without having to dedicate their own IT resources. In all, ClearObject’s IBM ELM managed services let product development and software engineering leaders limit risk, control costs and drive innovation.

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ClearObject is a digital transformation leader in Internet of Things (IoT) Engineering and Analytics. As IBM Watson IoT and Google Cloud Business Partners, we deliver global embedded software development environments for our customers, and design and deliver unique data analytics digital products that help them recognize the value of their data. Our objective is clear: help the world’s best companies build intelligence into their products and gain intelligence from them. The future is clear. Do you see it?

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