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Chapter 6 – The Specifications

Part 2

What is a specification?

The specification forms the bridge between good performance, cost control and scheduling. It also determines goal-based requirements. Specifications are a means of ensuring that project outcomes (goals) are determined before the project is carried out.

There are two types of specifications. The

  • requirement specification and
  • performance specification.

A specification is important for a project in order to define and quantify characteristics (tolerance values) of the services provided by the supplier. These are checked by the customer or buyer in the handover procedure before acceptance or purchase. This means that the supplier can demand payment if the characteristics of the specification are met. That means, a specification is like a checklist for your project.

Information

The conformity of the requirement and the performance specification is called quality.

Quality management

Quality is important to satisfy the customer and – maybe – guarantees deals with this customer in the future. That’s the reason why the quality in a project need to be planned carefully. A quality management as well as a project management manual is helpful for this undertaking.

Quality Function Deployment

Useful for ensuring the quality of a product or a service. This methodology relates directly to the product and is used to ascertain the requirements of the end-user and to realise technical objectives.

Configuration management

The specifications are written down, the quality is clear. But how to check, if you’re still on the right path?
Therefore, you can use configuration management. In this context, a configuration is defined as the - functions and physical features of a product or service as described in the supporting documents and implemented in the product, - detailed and complete compilation and documentation of project results and their systematic updating when project changes are implemented.

Configuration management is a management discipline that is applied throughout the entire lifecycle of a product to ensure transparency and guarantee that it incorporates the agreed functional and physical features. The main objective is to document the current configuration of a product, as well as the extent to which it satisfies physical and functional requirements and to ensure absolute transparency in these respects.

Information

During the configuration management process configurations are identified, controlled, accounted and audited.

Configuration identification

This comprises the following tasks:

  • Definition of the product structure and selection of configuration units, which is also called the reference configuration
  • Documentation of the physical and functional characteristics of configuration elements in clearly identified configuration documents
  • Establishment and usage of rules for numbering configuration elements and sub-elements, as well as for structuring documents, interfaces, changes and approvals during and after realisation (e.g. parts-list structures for the production team or document identification systems)
  • Establishment of reference configurations on the basis of formal agreements which, together with the approved changes, constitute the latest version of the agreed and therefore valid configuration

Configuration control

This comprises the following tasks:

  • Documentation of the cause or reason for changes (e.g. customer request or design defect that had not been previously identified)
  • Assessment of the impact of changes (e.g. with/without consequential changes)
  • Approval or rejection of changes (with reasons, e.g. additional benefits or costs of the consequential changes are higher than the projected benefit)
  • Processing of special approvals before or after implementation (e.g. additional services or features that were only identified as necessary after the first tests were carried out)

At this point, configuration control and change control overlap: Configuration control adapts interfaces in terms of data and shapes, while change control relates to changes in documents.

Configuration auditing

There are two types of configuration audit:

1. Function-related configuration audit
Formal audit of a configuration unit to ascertain whether it satisfies the performance and functional characteristics specified in the configuration documents (e.g. acceptance certificate in respect of work performed).
2. Physical configuration audit
Formal audit of the as-built configuration of an element to ascertain whether it corresponds to the information provided in the configuration documents (e.g. design drawings with the status "as-built").

How the story ends…

Dr. Rogers and his team go through the requirement specification of their customer. Based on this, they carry out their performance specification. Now everybody knows, which product with which requirements should stand at the end of the project. They know how the quality has to be. Now they can go on with the phase model of the project.