How to Manage Product Variants Efficiently?
Companies developing products for the automotive, engineering and electrical industries, among a variety of other markets, have to manage the increasing complexity of their products. Not only is this true because of new innovations and features (IoT, anyone?), but also because some markets are increasingly granular in terms of target groups.
Companies in these fields need to invest a lot of effort to target these groups with a diverse product line, offering more product feature variants than ever to better suit the needs of these individual groups. Offering increasingly individualized and dynamic features to react to changing market needs provides a competitive advantage.
However, managing all these product variants is a challenge from the development perspective. Some product variants may not differ from each other all that much, sharing the majority of requirements – however, their feature variations may be interlinked in more than one ways. Keeping track of the variants with different features is challenging enough, let alone staying on top of their related requirements, tasks, software code, test cases, etc which again add a great deal of complexity.
Managing a diverse product line
Obviously, by creating product variants, you don’t want to create duplicate work. Since some of the features may be common across your product line, it doesn’t make much sense to do redundant work all over again – instead, you’ll just reuse the modules (features) you have created already, alter what’s different, and combine features in ways that allows you to create product variants to address specific market needs.
As the latest addition to the feature set offered by codeBeamer ALM, our new variants management functionality allows you to define product variants, conveniently store and control their requirements and other relevant artifacts, and manage all variants throughout the development lifecycle.
Product variant management with codeBeamer
The process begins with defining the feature model – that is, the item containing all the features related to your product line. You will be selecting certain items from this “pool” of features, and assigning them to product types to create variants. Thus, the feature model collects all possible components of your product, whether it is hardware, software or other. For each feature, you will have to select a feature property, which will define this feature’s inclusion in the product specifications. Your property choices are: ‘mandatory’, ‘optional’, ‘alternative’, and ‘or’.
You will then move on to create a Master Specification Document, which contains all the components and artifacts (requirements, test cases, risk, etc) of all products in the product line. Different types of requirements may be specified, such as functional, non-functional, system, or software requirements.
The third step is to define the variants themselves by adding features from the feature model. This step is when the previously set feature properties become important: mandatory features, for instance, will have to be included regardless of product type, while optional ones may just be left out.
Once you have your variants planned, it’s time to generate the variants specification documents. With codeBeamer, you can automatically filter adequate feature specifications, and export or start to work with these specifications right away.
Interested in finding out more about how codeBeamer can support your variant management & development processes? Get in touch with us for a live 1-on1 demo!