3. The Automotive SPICE-Processes (VDA Scope)

3.14 SUP.9 – Problem Resolution Management

What is the purpose?

Program and project problems are identified, recorded, analyzed and controlled to resolution in a structured way.

What is the benefit?

A systematic problem resolution management process helps ensure that problems are resolved effectively and reliably. Periodic analysis of the identified problems enables the organization to learn from these problems and failures, resulting in improved processes and results.

What is the content?

  • A problem resolution management strategy is developed and implemented (BP1). It contains the activities, responsibilities, resources required and a life-cycle model for the possible states of the problems.
  • Each problem is identified, recorded (BP2) and the appropriate status is assigned (BP3). The status of the problem is updated as it follows thru the defined life-cycle. See the firt pircture as an example.
  • Each problem is identified, recorded (BP2) and the appropriate status is assigned (BP3). The status of the problem is updated as it follows thru the defined life-cycle. See picture as an example.
  • Its cause and impact are determined and a problem category is assigned (BP4).
  • Resolution of the problem is initiated (BP7) and tracked to closure (BP8).
  • Emergency measures or alarm messages are triggered for particularly urgent problems or serious effects on other systems (BP5, BP6)
  • Problem data are collected and analyzed to determine trends and opportunities for improvement. These improvements are rolled back into the project and potentially the organization.(BP9)
Example of a status work flow in Problem Management
Example of a status work flow in Problem Management

Experiences, problems and hints

  • Problems need to be managed at all levels (Customer, HW, SW, etc.), not just software.
  • Problems and change requests are often managed in a common tool, in which accepted problems flow smoothly into a change.
  • Problems often occur with BP9 “Analyze problem trends”. It is not enough to create charts, but actual analysis of the problems and trends need to take place. Analysis results can lead to corrective actions.
  • Problems to be managed within this process are not just technical issues. For example: Customer problems, different interpretations of requirements, process problems, availability of resources etc.
  • When analyzing problems it is useful to determine causes (categories), affected components where the problem was found, where it was resolved, the effort required to resolve and record this data.
  • The difference between BP5 and BP6 is often not well understood: BP5 deals with problems which need urgent action (like the customer performs field tests and wants a urgent fix). The point here is that this requires overruling normal procedures (e.g., reduced testing) which needs special approval. Therefore a clear procedure is needed including authorities for approvals. BP6 deals with the aspect that problems may impact others (like prototype cars need to be fixed, or other projects that use the same software need to be notified). This may or may not trigger an urgent action according to BP5.
  • Obviously there is a relationship between SUP.9 and risk management (MAN.5) as risks which become problems are handled by this process.

Automotive SPICE text of Problem Resolution Management (SUP.9)

The purpose of the Problem Resolution Management Process is to ensure that problems are identified, analyzed, managed and controlled to resolution.

BP1: Develop a problem resolution management strategy. Develop a problem resolution management strategy, including problem resolution activities, a status model for the problems, alert notifications, responsibilities for performing these activities and an urgent resolution strategy. Interfaces to affected parties are defined and definitions are maintained.

NOTE 1: Problem resolution activities can be different during the product life cycle, e.g. during prototype construction and series development.

BP2: Identify and record the problem. Each problem is uniquely identified, described and recorded. Supporting information should be provided to reproduce and diagnose the problem.

NOTE 2: Supporting information typically includes the origin of the problem, how it can be reproduced, environmental information, by whom it has been detected, etc.

 NOTE 3: Unique identification supports traceability to changes made.

 BP3: Record the status of problems. A status according to the status model is assigned to each problem to facilitate tracking.

BP4: Diagnose the cause and determine the impact of the problem. Investigate the problem and determine its cause and impact in order to categorize the problem and to determine appropriate actions.

NOTE 4: Problem categorization (e.g. A, B, C, light, medium, severe) may be based on severity, impact, criticality, urgency, relevance for the change process, etc.

 BP5: Authorize urgent resolution action. If according to the strategy a problem requires an urgent resolution, authorization shall be obtained for immediate action also according to the strategy.

BP6: Raise alert notifications. If according to the strategy the problem has a high impact on other systems or other affected parties, an alert notification needs to be raised also according to the strategy.

BP7: Initiate problem resolution. Initiate appropriate actions according to the strategy to resolve the problem including review of those actions, or initiate a change request.

NOTE 5: Appropriate actions may include the initiating of a change request. See SUP.10 for managing of change requests.

 NOTE 6: The implementation of process improvements (to prevent problems) is done in the process improvement process (PIM.3).The implementation of generic project management improvements (e.g. lessons learned) are part of the project management process (MAN.3). The implementation of generic work product related improvements are part of the quality assurance process (SUP.1).

 BP8: Track problems to closure. Track the status of problems to closure including all related change requests. A formal acceptance has to be authorized before closing the problem.

BP9: Analyze problem trends. Collect and analyze problem resolution management data, identify trends, and initiate project related actions, according to the strategy.

NOTE 7: Collected data typically contains information about where the problems occurred, how and when they were found, what were their impacts, etc.

Output Work Products

Problem management plan, Problem record, Analysis report, Evaluation report, Problem status report

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