Original Date: 12/06/2004
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Customer Focused Software Change Request
Innovative use of an automated, electronic engineering change proposal processing system has ensured customer input and focus for software upgrades to the Multi-User Engineering Change Proposal Automated Review System. Similar use of such a system, with customers providing comments and votes, provides the potential for other software intensive systems for organizations interested in meeting customers’ evolving needs.
The U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command (AMCOM) Integrated Materiel Management Center (IMMC) instituted an electronic engineering change proposal (ECP) process that relies on customer support to reduce cycle time and improve ECP processing. The Army received an average of five customer requests a week (typically by e- mail) for software enhancements; however, no formal tracking system existed for these requests. Prior to mid-2004, enhancements were implemented without customer participation and awareness of how various changes affected other customers.
To make the process and associated software tool meet or exceed evolving customer needs, the Army made upgrades to the software tool in the existing ECP process and allowed their customers to be voting members of the configuration control board. This enabled the Army to use the benefits and features of the Multi-User ECP Automated Review System (MEARS) to handle change requests. Users/customers in geographically dispersed locations provide comments and input on all proposed changes. With concurrent review of proposed upgrades and quick consolidation of comments, customers can influence the direction of the tool they use. The MEARS manager monitors the engineering change process and potential customer issues
IMMC’s innovative approach to customer software change requests requires no additional training or resources because it duplicates a common process already used in the ECP process. With all customers participating, the Army meets most of its customers’ needs without unforeseen impact on a particular user/customer. This collaborative process ensures customer "buy-in" to the evolving MEARS process and helps MEARS management determine upgrade investment priorities.
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