Five documents to have in place before starting development of your measurement system

To be able to succeed in a measurement system project there are some things to think about first in the project, or even before the project is started. There are more to think about later in the project but getting a good start is very important. Here are five documents that I strongly recommend you to have in place before you continue on to development.

Requirement Specification and Risk Analysis

What will happen if development of a system is just started? You have a picture of the system you want, but you haven’t really thought through all parts of it. Take a look at the measurement systems below. You start developing a system. Adjustments have to be made as new aspects arises which cost money, takes time and creates frustration. You end up with a system that is different to some extent. But what you really wanted was yet another system.
You spent money on changes that could have been avoided and the project was delayed. Also, you ended up with a system that wasn’t what you really wanted. This could have been avoided if a risk analysis had been made and a better requirement specification had been written before the project was started.

Proof Of Concept

Another thing that may happen if a project is just started is that the measurement method turns out not to be good enough. Let’s take a look at a bird house. To find out which birds that will fit the home, it’s decided that the diameter of the hole is a good measurement. The measurement is decided to be taken horizontally. Later in the project all the models of homes are to be tested. Then what will happen with the heart shaped hole?
It’s realized late in the project that the measurement method has to be changed. This will lead to late changes, and therefore extra costs. How could this have been avoided? By a proof of concept analysis. Such an analysis looks at the concept from several points of view, where looking of all models to be tested is one of them.

Project Plan

​What else can go wrong? Working without a good project plan will cause us to work inefficient. There will be double work, since it’s not clear who’s responsible for what. There might be things missed for the same reason, leading to delays due to solving issues late in the project. So spend some time to think about who’s responsible for what. For example, who should make sure the system has power and pressurized air? How many meetings are required between the project managers, developers and stakeholders? This depends on how well the system developer is familiar with the product to be tested, as well as the complexity of the system. Where should the milestones along the project be to know we’re heading in the right direction? What competences need to be present at meetings during the project and at the end during commissioning? All these things end up in a project plan.

Cost Estimation

​​The last one of the five documents to have in place before development of your measurement system is started is the cost estimation. It is much easier to make the estimation accurate when the other analysis and plans are in place. If you have an initial rough cost estimation update it at this stage. Then it will be easier to make correct decisions and other parts of your organisation will gain from this.

To summarize, spend some time on the following documents to get a good starting point for your project.
By Karin Hellqvist