When microphone and audio electronics manufacturer Shure starts to build a new generation of products, the company looks to Borland Softwares requirements management tools to help define and manage requirements that Shures customers have for new technology.
Shure, of Niles, Ill., takes input from its customers, including pop and rock stars, producers, audio engineers, sound contractors, and personal audiophiles, on what to put into its new products.
Artists such as LeAnn Rimes and the Black Eyed Peas helped establish the requirements for and served as beta testers on the Shure UHF-R wireless microphone, which was built using Borland software, Shure officials said.
In fact, every product, software component or other enhancement Shure delivers comes directly from customer input and feedback, according to company officials.
The company uses CaliberRM and StarTeam products from Borland, of Cupertino, Calif., to automate the process of turning customer needs into software requirements.
Tony Branch, manager of systems engineering at Shure, explained that Shure initially recognized the need to do some more formal capturing and managing of requirements and customer feedback, "just kind of gathering information that could be considered as inputs to the development process," Branch said.
John Purnell, assistant global IS specialist at Shure, said, "The very first Borland tool that was brought in was CaliberRM. And that was the tool we used for idea gathering [and] fact gathering—not yet at the level of full requirements management."
However, as Shure matured as a software development organization, the company decided to take the next step, Purnell said.
"And I led a project for a software version control system, [for] which we decided to go with StarTeam Enterprise Advantage, which was also Borlands solution. So we adopted Borlands ALM [application lifecycle management] philosophy, with CaliberRM managing our requirements and StarTeam managing our software version control."
Purnell said Shure refers to its products as "rugged and reliable."
To help deliver on those aspects, the Shure systems engineering department defined a strategy for reducing time to market through a requirements-based development approach. Shure worked with Borland partner Orasi Software, of Atlanta, to implement Borlands CaliberRM.
The result is that Shure is now able to capture and manage bidirectional traceability between customer needs and product designs, Branch said.
This approach has also enabled reuse, cross-functional impact analysis and benchmarking through a consistent approach to ALM, she said.
Prior to using Borlands tools, Shure had to gather requirements manually, translating input from customer researchers provided in journals, spreadsheets and documents, Shure officials said.
The move to Borlands tools has also enabled Shure to look ahead to new features and capabilities, Branch said.
"Customer-driven solutions is one of our mantras," Branch said. "Borland, the tool set and where we are today [are] going to really help us as we move into a phase where we start looking into doing modeling to predict product behavior and try things out with actually going all the way through the prototyping process. Thats also going to give us a lot of leverage and help reduce our overall time to market with some new concepts that are coming to us through customer feedback and market research."
In addition to CaliberRM, Shure makes use of Borlands StarTeam developer collaboration platform to help drive development directly from the requirements generated using CaliberRM, Purnell said.
StarTeam also helps Shure manage version control and change requests throughout the development life cycle, and helps to enforce Shures standard SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) process and save developers time by reducing rework, Shure officials said.
"One of our initiatives recently has been to give more focus on reuse and a platform approach to our product development," Branch said. "We anticipate, and are already seeing, significant increase in our capability to just successfully manage the development process through the tool set."
Branch added that the company can reuse both the requirements and software as needed.
"We understand the traceability between customer inputs down to where its fulfilled in the product," she said. "And that is delivering and meeting one of our organizational goals."