World models of operational characterization – 10.09.2015

Written by Avishay Leibenson, CEO of Panda Tech

In most of the projects in Israel, no operational characterization is performed at all. In other cases, the project's operational characterization is performed using Word documents. There are a number of drawbacks to the existing method. Among other things, the relationship between the operational customer and the body that develops the system is loose. Following the loose connection, the resulting product is not usually similar to the product intended by the operational user.

Why is it correct to hear the opinion of the operational user?

The operational user is the one who is going to use the system. He is the character who will touch the buttons, the screens, and the cards. This is the character that will use the actual system and is likely to know what he wants and especially know what he would not want. The operational user has experience in previous systems and therefore has a prior opinion on what things he would not want to have in the system.

Why is it profitable for a business to invest in an operational user?

The operational user is knowledgeable in the developed system. Using his knowledge can save a lot of time for the project developers and contribute to a much more seamless project with the cooperation of the customer and the system vendor. System providers sometimes prefer not to consider the operational user's mind so as not to get into corners, for things that are not "on the shelf." In practice, existing knowledge of the operational user can lead to the development of new and interesting systems that the supplier has not thought of.

What improvement can be achieved in operational characterization?

The characteristics today focus on building a list of requirements that are managed during the project. Another possible method is the definition of all the operational processes of the system in a mechanized tool. The tool makes it possible to connect the different processes and to identify mutual influences between the processes, to identify deficiencies in operational processes and to analyze the processes in light of the real operational processes of the system.

It is important to note that the analyzing performed by system engineering in the projects are technical analyzes of the system processes and are performed by looking at the system as a technical system. Operational analysis is carried out from an operational perspective. There is no consideration at all of the future technical aspects of the system. Operational analysis may bring new ideas for developing the system and produce to provide the system with future development possibilities.

Operational characterization using models

Operational characterization using models including defining operational goals, operational requirements, operational processes and operational entities. Operational processes are defined as the flow of activities carried out by various functionaries in the creation of the operational mission. The processes are defined hierarchically and create connections between the sub-processes. The analysis enables identification of missing processes, incomplete processes, or unnecessary processes. In many cases, there is an excessive definition of system processes or unnecessary functions. Such errors occur because the analysis is done by writing words rather than using visual tools. The visual analysis by means of a model enables identification of those surplus processes, thereby avoiding waste of funds.

Summary

A development project can be choppy and not flowing and can be a project where everything connects, all parts play together. To many, this is not an easy process. At the same time, the basic stage of the project is the operational characterization, and this is a stage we usually skip, and this is a critical mistake. A project that begins with no operational characterization is a project without foundation, without foundations. A project that begins with an operational characterization that is carried out through visual models is a project that has a strong and solid foundation in which all the partners in the project are aiming at the same direction and operating on the same infrastructure. This is an important and significant stage in the project's success. In general, it is recommended to combine the operational characterization stage with the following stages of the project: system modeling, software modeling and modeling of tests and overall vision of all things together - model-oriented architecture.