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Requirements management in industrial infrastructure projects

With terms extending over several years, dependencies that run through an entire company and investment sums amounting to millions, industrial infrastructure projects are a particular challenge for all parties involved. One example of this is Tesla’s planned giga-factory in Berlin-Brandenburg. So that the planned object brings the client the maximum benefit, it is indispensable to establish a comprehensive and consistent requirements management from the very start.

In addition to requirements such as areas, plant capacities, yields and services, strategic requirements also play an important role in requirements management. In order to fully understand the need, the involvement of all stakeholders within the company is of enormous importance.

Interdisciplinary project work

Requirements for the future infrastructure can come from different areas. Examples include the areas of development, production, sales and business development. In the above example of the Tesla giga-factory, the main area is certainly that of production. With the relevant contact persons, it is important to establish the technical requirements for the new infrastructure object, to check their plausibility and to document them accordingly in a set of requirements. Technical know-how, which enables an in-depth evaluation and plausibility checking of these requirements, is of great importance for the role of requirements management. 

The set of requirements is to be prepared in a manner appropriate for the project phase and serves as a basis for all parties involved in the project. This means that the respective information and requirements provided must meet the required information needs of the respective planning phase in terms of their scope and level of detail. An overly extensive set of requirements can lead to additional effort in the form of selection activities due to the large quantity of information that is not (yet) needed by the planning managers. On the other hand, if there is not enough detailed information at a certain point in time, there is a significant risk of subsequent changes. Both cases may result in corresponding additional planning costs.

Consideration of strategic requirements

In addition to the technical requirements that decisively shape the infrastructure object in terms of appearance and key performance indicators, equally high importance must be attached to the strategic requirements. They reflect the long-term objectives of a company and are intended to ensure its lasting, successful position. Since these objectives are defined by the top management of a company, it is of particular importance to take into account all relevant stakeholders and to develop a target image that is accepted and supported by all parties involved. To achieve this it is often necessary to present and confirm appropriate decisions and objectives in decision-making circles or committees of the company. The necessary expertise with regard to preparation and implementation is an important prerequisite for the requirements management team.

Due to the sometimes very long duration of infrastructure projects, it cannot be ruled out that the company will go through an economically demanding phase during this period. At such times it is necessary to examine and evaluate all expenditure and activities of a company with regard to necessity. In order for this to be done comprehensively, objectively and, above all, in relation to the objectives originally set, a full and transparent set of requirements is essential. In this way it is possible to comprehend the background and context of decisions taken so far.

Conclusion

A set of requirements that takes into account the above aspects is of enormous importance for infrastructure projects and supports an efficient and smooth construction process. In order to develop such a set of requirements, it is important that a requirements management that is individually adapted to the target image is established at the beginning of the project. As such, this allows the full recording and plausibility checking of both technical and strategic requirements as well as their preparation in a manner suitable for both the phases and the addressee (“from the executive board to the foreman”). In addition to experience in the field of requirements management as well as technical expertise regarding the contents of the infrastructure project, additional experience in the field of project management is of great importance to the participants.

Please contact us if you have any questions about requirements management for infrastructure projects or are looking for an exchange of information.

Martin Betz
Director

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