Incomplete and Obsolete Documentation

Documentation. The bane of the developer or so it appears. From our experience, delivering an up to date and complete documentation synchronously with the system it documents is one of the hardest feats in the engineering world. In the case of electronic systems test benches it manifests as incomplete test plans and test procedures. It is even more unlikely that the documentation will be maintained once it has caught up with the development, leaving out of date documentation in place.

The Easy Way: Have Incentives

In order for a team to produce the right documentation at the right time, the incentives to do so must be present. Some systems, like medical systems, cannot be approved, sold and delivered if the required documentation is not present. You can therefore be sure that the documentation will be up to the quality requirements. But this is because there is an upfront revenue incentive.

When this upfront incentive is absent, the documentation will suffer even if there is actually a final total cost incentive.

The Consequences

In the case of an electronic system test bench, incomplete and obsolete documentation will indubitably lead to a slew of problems, which will be exacerbated when key resources leave.

  • If the test plan and design documentation are lacking, modifying the test bench and deploying new stations will range from difficult to impossible, adding unnecessary development time and cost.
  • If the test procedure is inadequate, the quality of the systems are in jeopardy. The testers will be led to interpret the procedure in ways that can compromise the delivery of functional units to the clients or lead to multiple retests
  • If no debugging procedure is created, technicians will have to build their own knowledge about the system and its troubleshooting from scratch.
  • If there is no deployment procedures, bringing up a new test station will take a lot more time of trial and error before being able to reach the unit throughput target and its quality imperatives.

The Solution

So if there are no up front incentives to create adequate documentation, what can we do to not suffer the consequences?

The secret is to integrate and intertwine the documentation with the design and development. A thoughtful manager can enforce this of his or her resources, but ultimately it is the right tools that are needed to guide the developer through the documentation process. Moreover, automatic generation of documentation from the design and the test bench sources reduces the occurrence of obsolete documentation.

The Spintop Suite, a complete hardware tests solution, fully integrates the creation and the generation of all typical documents surrounding the test bench in its development and its sources.

  • The test plan
  • The test procedure
  • The test bench deployment procedure
  • The debugging procedure

When a testbench is operated or consulted, the suite will serve up to date test documentation matching the current state of the test bench for the technician and tester to follow.

This illustrates the interactions of the developer and the tester with the software suite through the documentation creation and consultation.

Would you like to use our software suite to help your team create top notch documentation? Get started with spintop-openhtf.