Interface Engineering & Management

A course presented over 2 days or 4 half-days by Paul Davies.

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  • Course Overview
  • Course Outline
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Every interface is an opportunity to lose information, time, control and/or money through error or contention between stakeholders at each end. There are many issues surrounding interface engineering and management, which are relatively unexplored in the engineering literature. This is surprising, since integration across interfaces is nearly always a source of delays, missing functionality or poor performance in the introduction of new systems.

This course, over two days or four half-days, is simple enough to give anyone with good common sense and a modicum of technical knowledge and engineering practice a clear understanding of how to approach the definition and management of interfaces. Eight best practices are fully explained, and illustrated to give delegates the opportunity to use for themselves. These practices are exploited by leading enterprises, often without formal documentation, to give competitive advantage.

The modules are presented in a logical order, comparable to those processes that are followed in a well-run project. There is a worked case study used as a central theme, and as a basis for ten “learning by doing” workshops. The first two half-days are spent covering the basics, and ensuring a good grounding in the best practices. The third half-day is then spent applying the practices to optimise system architecting around interfaces, and the final half-day covers modelling, documentation and practice writing interface requirements and specifications.

A useful set of templates and guidelines for writing interface specification documents is also included, as "handouts" and as an online resource.

Upcoming Courses

Register and pay 30 days prior to the course commencement date to receive a 10% early bird discount. Or register a group of 3+ for a 10% group discount. Available for corporate training worldwide.

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Learning objectives:

1. To understand the basic systems engineering concepts and competencies, and the place of interface engineering in the holistic lifecycle.

2. To be able to explain why there is a need for interface definition and management, and its impact on the integrity of the system solution.

3. To be able to identify, define and control the system and system element interfaces, and apply and evaluate that knowledge using a case study.

4. To be able to plan interface management, define processes and appropriate tools, and use these to monitor and control interface engineering activities.

5. To be able to describe possible sources of complexity of the interface definition and management for a project, and provide examples; and to analyze the potential impact on the project using the Integration Readiness Level scale.

6. To be able to identify consequences of changes to interfaces on the system elements, system of interest and/or containing system, and to understand how to manage those changes.

Training Method and Materials:

The training is facilitated using a mixture of presentation and discussion, with a variety of brainstorms and workshops based around a central case study. Instead of presenting a lot of content and hoping that something will ‘stick’, the training utilizes advanced adult learning techniques optimized for the type of content that needs to be mastered. Throughout the course, there is a strong focus on interaction, variety, the social aspects of learning, and integration with the learner’s existing knowledge framework. The result is highly engaging sessions, matched with a high degree of subject mastery. Most participants will find that the course is fun! Our approach to the training is based on world leadership in systems engineering training combined with over 20 years of sound experience in the theory and practice of adult learning.

The course is facilitated by a professionally qualified, world-class, expert leader in the field.

You will be provided with:

  • a comprehensive course manual containing the presentation slideset;
  • a workbook containing case study workshop exercises
  • a separate set of reference answer handouts
  • a reference set of interface specification documents, both in hard- and soft-copy form.

Who Should Attend This Course?

This course is designed for personnel who perform, manage, control or specify the development of small to large technology-based systems, even more so those with demanding interoperability needs. It is aimed at any engineer (not just those with the title Systems Engineer) faced with the problem of managing the interfaces from their designs, and who wish to learn more about best-practice techniques in the definition and management of interfaces.

It will be valuable to project managers and operations executives, for whom the stakeholder issues encountered in realisation and acceptance of interfaces, and performance across those interfaces, have become a money-leaking headache.

The course will be of particular value to people with job titles such as:

  • Design engineer
  • Engineering manager
  • Enterprise architect
  • Hardware engineer
  • Industrial engineer
  • Integration engineer
  • Interface Control Working group (ICWG) member
  • Product manager
  • Project engineer
  • R and D manager
  • Software engineer
  • Software systems engineer
  • System architect
  • Systems analyst
  • Systems engineer.

Day 1 (or days 1 and 2 for half-day deliveries) 

1      Introductions, outline and mindmap
2     Basic systems concepts and relationships
3     What’s Special about interfaces? Brainstorm, discussion and reference solution
4     Types or Categories; Brainstorm, discussion and reference solution

Morning break

5      Conceptualisation of Interfaces - the notional plane of the interface, and Context diagrams
6      Introduction to the Case Study
7      Context diagram - Case Study Workshop 1

Lunch

8      Stakeholders - who are they, and what do they want? Case Study Workshop 2
9      Context Diagram refinement + application to organisations; Case Study Workshop 3
10     Scenarios for animating the black box context diagram – Case Study Workshop 4
11      Sources of complexity – candidate list, discussion of personal experiences, outline of tools & methods

Afternoon break

12      Interface lifecycle timeline; N-squared charts, example at black box level
13      Black box N-squared chart - Case Study Workshop 5
14      N-squared charts at System Element level - white box example

Review of learning, homework - candidate white box N-squared chart for Case Study Workshop 6

Day 2 (or days 3 and 4 for half-day deliveries)

15      Part 2 Introduction
16      Architecting through Interfaces using Design Patterns
17      Architecting Practice - Optimisation – Case Study Workshop 7
18      Completeness checking; integrating Sequence Diagrams, N-squared charts, black box / white box models

Morning break

19      Elastic links exercise or simulation 2; discussion on impact of clustering / concentrator nodes
20     Timeline of Activities; Configuration States, Stepwise agreement, future-proofing and documentation; Case Study Workshop 8
21      Configuration & Change control; Case Study Workshop 9

Lunch

22      Planning for Integration, Verification and Validation (IVV); brainstorm personal stories, Dos & Don’ts
23      Use of models & MBSE tools versus document-centric; lessons learned and discussion
24      The IRS/ICD template – handout and discussion
25      Review of Requirements knowledge, and relationship to requirements specification; a template

Afternoon break

26-7   Final Workshop 10 to create a draft IRS/ICD for part of Case Study
28      Review of new knowledge, Q&A, and feedback

Each Break will resume with a review of learning. There may be homework!

Course Presenter

Mr. Paul Davies is an experienced systems engineer with thirty years in the defence and aerospace industry, six years in the nuclear industry, and a couple of years in rail, he has a wealth of diverse experience to call on. LEARN MORE

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