Structuring requirements as necessary premise for customer-oriented development of complex products: A generic approach

Abstract: Purpose: Complex products like for example intra-logistical facilities make high demands on developers and producers and involve high investment and operating costs. When planning and developing and also making buying decisions the facility utilization and the thus ensuing requirements on the facility and its components are inadequately considered to date. Nevertheless, with regard to customer-directed product design, these requirements must all be taken into account – especially as they can contribute to possible savings. In this context, it is necessary to survey and systematically regard requirements from a large number of areas like for example the operator, the facility producer and also requirements of external parties such as the law and to implement into adequate product characteristics to produce customer-oriented products. This is, however, a difficult task because of the diversity of stakeholders involved and their numerous and often divergent requirements. Therefore, it is essential to structure the requirements, so that planners and developers are able to manage the large amount of information. Structure models can be used in this context to cluster requirements. Within the German Collaborative Research Centre 696 a 10-dimensional model has been developed. This model allows structuring of all requirements on intra-logistical facilities or respectively complex products in general. In the context of dealing with hundreds of data records, structuring requirements is mandatory to achieve accuracy, clarity and consequently satisfactory results when transforming requirements into product characteristics which fit customer needs. In the paper an excerpt of this model is presented.
Design/methodology/approach: In literature a multitude of methods which deal with the topic of structuring exist. The methods have been analysed regarding their purpose and their level of specification, i.e. the number of differentiated categories, to check if they could be applied in the regarded area of intra-logistics. Also potential stakeholders have been identified to ensure that the surveying of requirements is not incomplete. Based on these analyses an own model has been developed which combines, adepts and enlarges the existing methods.
Findings: A 10-dimensional model has been developed for structuring requirements on intra-logistical facilities. This model is holistic, because additionally it allows capturing the stakeholders’ feedback to the requirements’ fulfilment. The dimensions of the model can be divided into four groups. The first one serves to structure the requirements regarding their content. These are the dimensions obligations, surroundings, information, qualification, technical-functional requirements and qualification. The second group serves to structure the reference object to which the requirements refer and includes the dimension product. Weighted level of performance and customer satisfaction are part of the third group, which encompasses the evaluation of the requirements’ fulfilment. The fourth group is for the temporal structuring of requirements and includes the dimension time. For applying the model it has been implemented for data processing as component of a large data processing system. The developed model is presented in this paper.
Research limitations/implications: A 10-idimensional model for structuring requirements is presented in this paper. Thereby, a sub-division of the dimensions into categories and sub-categories has been made to ensure a topical classification of the requirements and additionally a structuring according to their level of specification. Considering individual dimensions and/or selected categories of dimensions allow a thematic focus to be placed on certain groups of requirements. This is particularly important, not only for the implementation of requirements into solutions but also for focusing on the needs of individual stakeholders, if e.g. requirements on maintenance have to be observed. Using the model, working with lots of requirements should be facilitated. Thereby, clustering and weighting of requirement should be advanced.
Practical implications: For applying the model and handling the great amount of requirements, the model has been implemented for data processing. This allows the stakeholder to easily sort the requirements into the model. Thereby, the system offers many assistance functions which should facilitate the matching for example matching of the same requirement by other stakeholders can be shown or matching of similar requirements.
Originality/value: In contrast to the existing structuring methods the developed model is holistic and generic. It allows to capture the stakeholders’ feedback to the requirements fulfilment and hence a comparison between nominal and actual condition. Moreover, it can be applied not only the area of intra-logistics, for which it has been originally developed, but to complex products in general. Even if an adaption of the dimensions’ categories might be necessary.
Keywords: requirements, structuring, product development
Author: Sandra Klute, Robert Refflinghaus
Journal Code: jptindustrigg110042

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