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Friday, July 8, 2011

Methods for Verifying System Performance

9.2 Verifying that System Requirements are Met
The first phase of verifying system requirements is a formal engineering process that starts with requirements analysis and ends when the system is accepted by its customer.  During the system integration and testing steps must be taken to verify that the system satisfies every “shall” statement in the requirements. These shall statement requirements are collected in a document called the Verification Matrix. The results of the integration and testing of these requirements are documented in a Compliance Matrix. The integration and testing is defined and planned in a System Integration and Test Plan. Related documentation includes the Test Architecture Definition, hardware and software Test Plans & Procedures and Test Data Analysis Plans.
The roles of systems engineers in verification include:
  • Developing the optimum test strategy and methodology and incorporating it into the design as it is developed
  • Developing the top level System Integration and Test Plan
  • Developing the hierarchy of Integration and Test Plans from component level to system level
  • Documenting all key system and subsystem level tests
  • Defining system and subsystem level test equipment needed and developing test architecture designs
  • Developing the Test Data Analysis Plans
  • Analyzing test data
  • Ensuring that all shall requirements are verified and documented in the Compliance Matrix.
Good systems engineering practice requires that requirements verification takes place in parallel with requirements definition. The decision to define a requirement with a “shall” or “may” or “should” statement involves deciding if the requirement must be verified and if so how the requirement will be verified. This means that the requirements verification matrix should be developed in parallel with the system requirements documentation and reviewed when the system requirements are reviewed, e.g. at peer reviews and at a formal System Requirements Review (SRR).
9.2.1 Verification Matrix – The verification matrix is documentation that defines for each requirement the verification method, the level and type of unit for which the verification is to be performed and any special conditions for the verification. Modern requirements management tools facilitate developing the verification matrix. If such tools are not used then the verification matrix can be developed using standard spreadsheet tools.
There are standard verification methods used by systems engineers. These methods are:
  1. Analysis -Verifies conformance to required performance by the use of analysis based on verified analytical tools, modeling or simulations that predict the performance of the design with calculated data or data from lower level component or subsystem testing. Used when physical hardware and/or software is not available or not cost effective.
  2. Inspection - Visually verifies form, fit and configuration of the hardware and of software. Often involves measurement tools for measuring dimensions, mass and physical characteristics.
  3. Demonstration - Verifies the required operability of hardware and software without the aid of test devices. If test devices should be required they are selected so as to not contribute to the results of the demonstration.
  4. Test - Verifies conformance to required performance, physical characteristics and design construction features by techniques using test equipment or test devices. Intended to be a detailed quantification of performance.
  5. Similarity - Verifies requirement satisfaction based on certified usage of similar components under identical or harsher operating conditions.
  6. Design – Used when compliance is obvious from the design, e.g. “The system shall have two modes, standby and operation”.
  7. Simulation – Compliance applies to a finished data product after calibration or processing with system algorithms. May be only way to demonstrate compliance.
The DoD SEF defines only the first four of the methods listed above. Many experienced systems engineers find these four too restrictive and also use the other three methods listed. To illustrate a verification matrix with an example consider the function Switch Power. This function might be decomposed as shown in Figure 9-1.

Figure 9-1 A function Switch Power might be decomposed into four sub functions.
An example verification matrix for the functions shown in Figure 9-1 is shown in Figure 9-2. In this example the switch power function is assumed to be implemented in a switch module and that both an engineering model and a manufacturing prototype are constructed and tested. In this example no verification of the switch module itself is specified for production models. Verification of the module performance for production modules is assumed to be included in other system level tests.
It’s not important whether the verification matrix is generated automatically from requirements management software or by copy and paste from a requirements spreadsheet. What is important is to not to have to reenter requirements from the requirements document to the verification matrix as this opens the door for simple typing mistakes.

Figure 9-2 An example verification matrix for a switch module.

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