Can One Tool Do Everything That Systems Engineers Need?

Published by on August 25, 2016 at 3:38 pm.

Recently, at the INCOSE International Symposium, a panel of tool vendors were heard to say that no one tool can do everything a systems engineer needs to do. They were promoting their adoption of OSLC (Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration) as a means to share information between their various tools. But is this really necessary? Do I have to buy a half dozen tools to do my job as an SE? What do I really need?

MIL-STD-499B (draft)_systems_engineering


If we go back to MIL-STD-499B (draft), we can see the primary areas that are needed for systems engineering through the entire lifecycle. As the picture on the right shows, there are four primary processes: Requirements Analysis; Functional Analysis and Allocation; Design Synthesis; and System Analysis and Control. Since systems engineering has not changed substantially since this development (and this same approach was the basis for EIA-632), I think we can use these simple four steps as the basis for the discussion. So let’s take each one and see what a single tool, Innoslate® can do in these areas.


Requirements Analysis

Requirements AnalysisRequirement Analysis means having the ability to capture user needs and translate them into functional requirements, ultimately, deriving the systems specifications. Innoslate® has a complete requirements view that includes a quality checker and quality attributes for performing and managing this analysis. Each requirements document is managed separately and can be baselined at any time. Reports and diagrams (including Requirements, Hierarchy, and Tree) are automatically generated as needed from this information. Also, traceability matrices can be used to create relationships between different sets of requirements, as well as for linkage to functional, performance, and physical design elements. Therefore, all the things a systems engineer needs to do for requirements analysis are available in Innoslate® today.

Functional Analysis and Allocation

In the area of functional analysis and allocation, the systems engineer needs to be able to decompose functions to lower levels; allocate performance and other constraining requirements to all functional levels; define functional interfaces; and define the functional behavior. Innoslate® provides a myriad of graphical means to performs these activities. It contains the Action, Activity, IDEF0, N2, Sequence, State Machine, and Use Case Diagrams, which all work together. In other words, if you define the set of functions (Innoslate and LML call this class Actions) in one diagram, that same information appears in other diagram views automatically. You might have to move a few boxes around to create a cleaner diagram, but all the information is exactly the same.  You  can use the Action diagram for allocation by dragging an Asset to a branch. All the actions on that branch are allocated to that Asset.Innoslate Action Diagram

Design Synthesis

Of course, we need to synthesis solutions to meet the functional and performance requirements. The systems engineer needs to transform the functional behavior into a physical architecture; define alternatives system concepts, configuration items, and system elements; as well as, define physical interfaces. Innoslate® provides the Asset, Internal Block, Block Definition, Class, I2, Layer, Package, Parametric, Physical Interface, Organization, and Radar diagrams, thus making it easy to use a variety of views to capture information and communicate it to your stakeholders. Similar to the functional diagrams, these diagrams automatically populate with the information in another physical diagram. You can even add pictures, backgrounds, lightning bolts, and many other drawing elements to present the classic “cartoon” that everyone wants.Innoslate Asset Diagram

System Analysis and Control

Systems analysis and control includes the trade-off studies, effectiveness analyses, and all the management disciplines (program, configuration, risk, interface, technical data, and progress). And Innoslate® supports all of these. For example, you can create a program plan in our Documents View, linking it to the work breakdown structure (WBS), which are captured as Cost entities, and then derive the schedule and cost using the discrete event and Monte Carlo simulators. These simulators also provide the means within the tool to perform tradeoff and effectiveness analyses. Innoslate also contains an interactive Risk matrix diagram for identifying and managing risks. These risks can be linked to any other piece of information to see what it comes from and how it’s mitigated.

Innoslate Risk Diagram

We have barely touch the surface of what Innoslate® can do. It scales to enable work on very large projects (millions of objects), artifact management, timelines, DoDAF dashboard, model maturity checkers, verification & validation, and stunning collaboration features; all what a systems engineer of today needs to work as a team across the world.
The bottom line is that Innoslate® provides all the essential features needed by the systems engineer throughout the lifecycle. Use the Feedback form in the Dashboard or our Contact page to communicate directly with our developers, technical support, and sales staff. We use your feedback to assess the need for new features. To add your own functionality, use our well-documented software development kit (SDK). So can one tool do it all? The answer is yes. Innoslate®is the full lifecycle system engineering tool with all the features you need in one place to succeed.

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