Producing Requirements Through Systems Thinking

By Mallory Jones

Systems engineering is not just writing requirements or conducting a requirements analysis. Systems engineering processes take stakeholder needs and create products or systems to support those needs. Requirements are one step in this lifecycle development; they are not the sole process that drives the project from A to B.

When producing requirements from stakeholder goals and customer needs, a systems engineer must consider the entirety of the lifecycle model with systems design in mind. How will these requirements support model development and execution? How will these requirements encourage verification and validation of the product system? How will these requirements change and evolve through agile cycles? How will other fields use these requirements to support their processes?

These questions promote systems thinking when producing requirements. Systems engineers specialize in this ability to look at the big picture and not just pump out requirements that have no purpose or connection to the lifecycle. Requirements are also not a one-and-done production. They must be reviewed and revised; they must collaborate with input from all fields supporting the system to be designed.

The model-based systems engineering tool, Innoslate, simplifies these problems with its requirements analysis capabilities. In Innoslate, a requirements document can be produced collaboratively and in real-time using cloud computing. Comments can also be added to enable conversations or review implementation. The figure below displays functional requirements written for a lunar rover prototype. The comment describes the reasoning for the lunar rover design and development.

The heuristic-driven Requirements Quality Checker can also be run on these requirements to help systems engineers understand how they can improve the grammatical structure of each of their requirements. There are eight attributes each requirement is scored against: Clear, Complete, Consistent, Correct, Design, Feasible, Traceable, and Verifiable. The figure above displays a requirement, R.1 Lunar Rover, that needs revision.

Once finished producing an agile cycle of the requirements, the document may be baselined and returned to each agile cycle throughout the project.

Requirements can be traced throughout a project using various relationships. Key relationships might include satisfying the requirements with actions, verifying the requirements with test cases, or tracing the requirements to other requirements just to name a few possibilities. These relationships can be confirmed by opening a Traceability Matrix. The figure below displays all the test cases by which the requirements are verified.

Innoslate supports the development of data-driven requirements through collaboration, quality checking, and baselines to preserve requirement versions. This ensures that stakeholder needs will be met by creating thorough requirements.

About Innoslate: SPEC Innovations’ flagship software, Innoslate, supports the entire system or product lifecycle. With Innoslate you can perform requirements management, modeling and simulation, and verification and validation, in one tool. Teams can collaborate in real-time to manage documents, analyze requirements, develop models, and more. Create a free account at