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Assurance Process for Complex Electronics


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Complex Electronics Assurance Process



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Process Checklists

Process Checklists list the activities and tasks that are performed by the assurance engineer during a particular life cycle phase. The checklists include assessment tasks (e.g., assess the test bench created by the complex electronics engineer), reviews, analyses, and documents to be created or updated. Additionally, the checklists include a table with the important documents for this phase, where the current version and other identifying information can be recorded.

For the Planning phase, there are two checklists. The first (Planning Phase) is more project-oriented, and lists the plans that should be produced by the project (with assurance approval). The second (Assurance Planning) details the assurance-specific tasks, including details on creating the Complex Electronics Assurance Plan (CEAP). The two checklists were developed to help ensure that the project and assurance engineers put the necessary time and effort into the planning process, which is a vital first step to a successful project.

Process Checklists are provided for the following life cycle phases:

Tailoring the Process Checklists

The checklists list all analyses and tasks (as defined in the assurance process) that the assurance engineer might perform. As such, they are most appropriate "out of the box" for complex electronics with a high classification. For moderate and low classifications, some of the analyses and tasks can be removed. Use the tailoring tables for each phase (on the Assurance pages) to decide what tasks to perform.

On the other hand, the project may have additional tasks the assurance engineer must perform, based on the Center processes, project requirements, or other sources. These activities need to be added to the checklists. Audits are one activity not included in the checklists, because the frequency of the audits is highly project-dependent.

The checklists can be tailored to the project by removing or adding tasks and analyses. Remember to adjust the documentation list as well. Tailoring is a manual process that should be done as part of assurance planning. Additional tailoring can be done later in the life cycle, if necessary, to reflect changes in the project or the assurance process.

Using the Process Checklists

Once the checklists are tailored to the project, they are ready for use by the assurance engineer.

Review Checklists

Review Checklists are used to insure the product meets a defined standard. They serve as a guide and reminder of how the product is to be developed. Additionally, they can serve as a training aid for someone less familiar with the development process. They include Best Practices, testing, requirements review, and Impact Analysis. Checklists vary across the industry and even projects and are dependant on how the product is being developed. Use of these four checklists will help to insure the quality of the product. They are not just for the assurance engineer but are also to be used by the design engineer and those doing the reviews. REMEMBER that the design of a complex electronics cannot be viewed as a pure hardware task. It is a software task that is being performed by the hardware designers.

Review checklists are provided for the following items:

Tailoring the Review Checklists

Tailoring the checklists for hardware can be done based on the chip type. The specific language used to program the CE should also be considered. These checklists provide a foundation upon which to build your Complex Electronics.

Using the Review Checklists

Use the checklist as a reminder of things to do as you develop the code. It should also be used as a reminder of what to look for in a code review or impact analysis. The checklist will help to insure consistency, readability and make changes easier. Remember, it is easier to do it right the first time then it is to figure it out later. Beware of the adage "There is never time to do things right but there is always time to do things over".

Audit Checklist

The Audit checklist allows the assurance engineer to check on the current state of the project. It provides a snap shot of where the project is compared to where it should be. The results can be reported back to the project to address any weakness found and items for improvement.

Tailoring the Audit Checklist

The checklist contains questions for all three assurance levels. You can add questions that are pertinent to the project and use questions from another assurance level. Remember that all questions may not be valid at the point the audit is conducted. The current lifecycle of the product will determine if a question is valid. The beginning of the checklist contains an outline you can use to prepare the final report.

Using the Audit Checklist

Use the checklist as a list of the items that need to be verified. Once the audit is complete, the report can be a single page or multiple pages based on the findings and the requirements of the audit.


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Curator: Richard Plastow
NASA Official: Cynthia Calhoun
Last Updated: 12/15/2009