Client Testimonials

Training: Success Story

I am the lead engineer on a project referred to as MERCATOR (now aeroCOMPASS) and I requested your training for our project several years ago. I want to take this time to thank you for your help. I am immensely grateful, as are a number of others.

aeroCOMPASS is being developed in three phases with interim releases. The first phase was completed last March (2001) with the first Production release of code. We are approximately 2/3 through the second phase with completion scheduled for.

June of this year. We have deployed 4 interim releases with significant additions in each release. We have had only one major ‘gotcha’ in since last March, and that took us less than a day to recover and restore all user accounts and records.

I am quite pleased. aeroCOMPASS is now being used on a daily basis by at least 20% of LaRC personnel, and 30% of our user base are external to LaRC and NASA. We don’t have a large user base yet but it is growing daily and is starting the geometric upswing.

I would like to invite you to explore our web site and see for yourself the results of some of your endeavors, for I truly feel that emphasizing the need for developing good Operational Concepts and Requirements for each application and overall system design up front, supported by good Critical Chain Project Management has been the key to our success.

Sheri Hoadley
NASA Langley Research Center

Training: Comment on Operational Concepts

I am working on a new data recorder for a military aircraft and have just returned from meeting with our customer – the aircraft prime.

Although I am new to this customer my department has many years of history with them and have, at times, found then very difficult to work with on requirements. They want to specify implementation, use ill defined words and in general use their weight to tell us how things are going to be.

I was determined to apply the principles in your book even though I fully expected the customer to want to do things the way they have for the past 10 years.

I wrote up my first set of operational concepts (OCs) and emailed them to the customer prior to the meeting.

When we arrived we found that the customer technical lead had invited a long list of additional people from a diverse set of groups and had emailed them my OCs the night before. Even departmental bosses were there.

When it was my turn, I spent a few minutes describing what OCs were and how Smiths believed it would benefit the project. Just before I launched into the heart of the text one of the senior engineers that I had never meet before asked if he could make a comment. I was expecting this to be my “we don’t do it this way” lecture. Much to my surprise he discussed at length how great he found this method of reviewing system operation!

He used words like “the best things he has seen it years” and “that they should be using this method with their customer and other suppliers”. And the praises didn’t stop there, as we reviewed the material every single person in that room talked about how wonderful this method was and how much easier it was to communicate with us over requirements. I was flabbergasted!

We covered a lot of other material over the next 2 days but everything kept coming back to the use of operational concepts. Several times they asked if certain ideas could be added to my list of OCs which would set off a whole new round of praise!

My program manager, who was attending with me, knows this customer well and told me afterwards that this was the most open and honest this customer has every been with us and was amazed at how well the free exchange of ideas occurred.

If I was an operational concept believer before I’m a zealot now! I can hardly wait to share the idea of rationale with them!

Thanks for putting these great tools into an easy to understand and easy to use tool box.

Mike Francois
Systems Engineer
Smiths Aerospace (now GE-Aviation)

Training: Comment on the Requirement Definition Process


As mentioned briefly at the end of class [Requirement Definition] today I had taken your “Requirements Management” class approx. December of 2001.

By mid-February of the following year, I had transitioned off of another program and been assigned as the systems lead for a Ground Proximity Warning System and Voice Messaging Unit (GPWS/VMU) for a foreign customer. The customer Statement of Work and system specification were considered complete by the customer and internally at the time. After a brief review and given the knowledge gained in class it was clear that particularly the specification needed a major overhaul. Wants, desires, requirements, and might-could-be’s were intermingled and poorly worded in large part due to the language differences.

Several of the questions today pertained to what to do with a mess once it’s been handed to you. We decided to fix it as best as was possible by re-writing the specification for the customer. This included denoting true requirements with “shall” statements in the correct tense (“the system shall”) and introducing several items/areas the customer hadn’t included/considered.

This was painful and required several additional back and forths with the customer. However it provided the following benefits:

  • Post-flight-test desired changes were quite easily determined as in or out of scope against a fairly clean document.
  • The flight and systems lab test procedures were made much easier.
  • The customer had a clear idea of what we were required to provide them. This held true when the Chiefs of the country’s Operational Requirements Branch, Electrical and Flight Controls Branch, and the Flight Test Center rotated over the next 2 years.
  • This provided a starting point for follow on changes as the customer then wrote delta’s to the specifications with a similar wording style.
  • The biggest item is that it provided us with a way to close the program as we’d have had an extremely shaky/shiftable basis for doing so prior to this.

The bottom line is that I wanted to say “THANKS!” and especially so as this isn’t the only example of where you’ve helped me out over the past 2+ years.

All the best-

Mark Thomson
Systems Engineering Technical Manager
Smiths Aerospace (now GE-Aviation)

Training: Comment on the Requirement Definition public seminar


Your class was one of the most meaningful that I have been to in some time. I can see where the disciplines I learned during our trip to Fair Oaks will prove to be invaluable. I am looking forward to using them and seeing the results that I am sure will come about.

I enjoyed the interaction with the other groups. You could not have done a better job in pulling together a group of folks from such different backgrounds. It really made things special. You and Cheryl made it a lot of fun.

I will let you know of our progress.

Duane Wright
Principal Analyst
Southern Company Services, Inc

Training: Customer Success Story

Thank you for the recent offering of your System Requirements course at ATK Ordnance Systems. Without a doubt, we know that not only did the attendees learn the basic skills associated with generating a concept of operations, writing good requirements, and managing the requirements once written, but they also thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The manner in which it was presented, greatly exceeded the expectations that had been set for the course.

Neill Radke, ATK Principle Systems Engineer
Mike Gawronski, ATK Senior Engineer

Comment on Rationale

I was asked by my Technical Director to give an hour’s worth of the highlights of the training I attended and share with the other Requirement Analysts, about a month ago.

One woman incorporated some of what I shared in her document and said the (internal) client was quite impressed with how well the document “read”. I think the best received piece of information was the use of the requirement statement, with rationale. They all agreed that is usually the reason a requirement is so “wordy” and ultimately more confusing rather than less!

Thanks again. I thoroughly enjoyed the training!
Jan Ford

Training: Success Story

Requirements Expert’s Systems Requirements Class was a complete eye-opener. System requirements are critical for projects, big and small, yet even having mastered generally accepted practices and INCOSE recommendations; I had found that something was missing. When I took the Systems Requirements class, and learned the best practices from Ms. Hooks years of real-life experiences, I resonated with many of the processes and insights that made me a more productive system engineer and eventually project manager. I also appreciate the fact that as I work with other engineers who have taken the class, our productivity skyrockets. I highly recommend this class and have sent several of my most trusted project engineers to this class.

Manson Yew
Project Manager and System Engineer