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Assurance Process for Complex Electronics


Complex Electronics Background

Complex Electronics Assurance Process



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Requirements Evaluation

Risk Analysis

Requirements Review

Interface Analysis

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Decision Tables and Trees

Fault Tree Analysis

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis

Design Evaluation

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Change Impact Analysis

Functional and Physical Configuration Audits


Functional and Physical Configuration Audits

Functional Configuration Audit (FCA)

A Functional Configuration Audit (FCA) verifies that the configuration item (in this case, the complex electronics design and programmed device) meets all the functional requirements, including performance. The FCA represents a review of the item's performance, to ensure it not only meets the specification but that there are no unintended functional characteristics. FCAs may be conducted early in the prototype stage, to ensure that the design will meet the requirements. A final FCA is conducted after testing is complete and concrete data is available to show that the device meets its requirements. The FCA must be conducted before the Physical Configuration Audit if there is any possibility that amendments will arise as a result of the FCA.

Inputs (Data)

Primary inputs for the FCA are the functional requirements for the device and test or operational data showing how the device operates. Functional requirement information should include verification methods (test, demonstration, analysis, etc.) and the test method used (if applicable).

FCAs may use, but need not be limited to, data from the following processes and tests:

  1. environmental testing
  2. reliability, availability and maintainability tests and trials
  3. user trials
  4. interface checks and tests
  5. software testing, including independent verification and validation if safety critical software is involved.

FCA Process

Step 1: If not already provided, construct a matrix (spreadsheet) showing the requirements, verification method, and testing procedure name. Ensure that all requirements have a verification method (and procedure) defined.

Step 2: Add columns to the matrix for test status (Pass, Fail, Outstanding Action Items). Add columns to record other details of interest, such as the date the test was conducted and the quality assurance person who witnessed the test. Add a column for information on open action items.

Step 3: Review the as-run test documentation (or inspection/analysis reports) that are called out as verifications for each requirement. Record the appropriate information in the matrix. When reviewing, ensure that the test was adequate to verify the requirement.

Step 4: Identify any requirements that are open (failed or outstanding action item).

Step 5: Write a report documenting the audit and findings.

Step 6: Resolve any findings and other issues with the project.


Functional Configuration Audit Report. An Audit Template / Checklist is provided to help you conduct your audit. The template covers all assurance levels and development phases. Tailor the template to fit the needs of the audit


For complex electronics, the Physical Configuration Audit (PCA) involves comparison of the newly programmed item against design documentation to ensure that the physical characteristics and interfaces conform to the product specification. The first PCA is conducted to show that development is complete and the item has been built in accordance with its engineering requirements.


  • FCA report
  • Complex electronics requirements (specification)
  • CE design (HDL models, drawings, etc.)
  • Synthesis log files
  • Testing and verification reports
  • Programming process plan
  • Configuration Management records
  • Deviations and waivers
  • Problem reports

PCA Process

Step 1: Gather data and documents

Step 2: Review of FCA report and verify incorporation (or other appropriate disposition) of action items and findings.

Step 3: Review the requirements (specification) for the complex electronics against the design (HDL, drawings) to ensure that the requirements are implemented in the design.

Step 4: Review any log files or other documents from the synthesis process or from developer testing or verification activities. Ensure that no errors were detected by these processes that were not fixed in the device design.

Step 5: Review the process plan for device programming. Ensure that the plan has been followed, and is programming the chip with the correct code. Review configuration management records to ensure that the correct design (code) was used.

Step 6: Review problem reports, deviations, and waivers to ensure that there are no open issues with the complex electronics design or device.

Step 7: Write the PCA report documenting the process and findings of the audit.

Step 8: Resolve any issues and findings with the project.


Physical Configuration Audit Report. An Audit Template / Checklist is provided to help you conduct your audit. The template covers all assurance levels and development phases. Tailor the template to fit the needs of the audit.


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