ISO 26262 is an international standard that sets the requirements for the functional safety of electrical and/or electronic systems and components of automotive vehicles. This standard intends to ensure that these embedded systems are reliable and secure. Relying on an application lifecycle management (ALM) tool, can make ISO 26262 compliance easier in several ways. Let’s see how.
ISO 26262 standard and ALM tool: brief reminder
The context and scope of the standard
ISO 26262 is an international standard for the functional safety of electrical and electronic systems embedded into automotive vehicles. It aims to ensure the security of both vehicle passengers and other road users, reducing the risks due to embedded systems’ defects. The standard applies to each and every development phase of an automotive electronic system: from design, to production and then operation and maintenance. The ISO 26262 standard covers all the electronic systems’ security functions such as braking, power steering, airbags and navigation systems. Automotive manufacturers have to comply to this standard as to grant their electronic systems safety. So, considering how crucial ISO compliance is, car manufacturers, equipment suppliers and any other stakeholder involved, should definitely implement the necessary (and right) processes and tools to back up and ensure both the quality and the reliability of their products.
Application Lifecycle Management tools
Application Lifecycle Management tools (ALM) are software solutions designed to make planning, development and maintenance processes easier. This kind of tools encompass multiple features to manage requirements, risks, tests, versions and even more; which helps industrial companies to set a well-defined work environment and a development process of functional security for the electronic systems and software embedded in cars. Now for ISO 26262 compliance purposes, ALM tools enable companies to better manage their projects as well as to standardize their processes to meet the standard requirements easier.
ISO 26262 and key ALM tools features for compliance
An ALM solution enables to define, manage and track security and performance requirements, as well as their potential evolution, throughout the entire lifecycle of the developed software. It is a very important feature to ensure products compliance to the ISO 26262 standard, since it actually allows to verify that all the requirements are respected during the software development process and maintenance.
Risk management is a key aspect of ISO 26262. A good ALM tool helps better identify, analyze and mitigate risks linked to functional security throughout the software lifecycle. It also allows to monitor risks’ evolution and changes, so that you can rapidly take action to correct and minimize them, if needed.
Items traceability is a crucial criterion for complying with ISO 26262. ALM tools provide traceability features to follow the links among any requirements, risks, tests, results and even versions, related to a given application. A high-level of traceability like this, makes it easier to draw potential consequences in case something is modified, and quickly provide proof of compliance with the standard.
An ALM tool directly participates to the quality improvement of delivered industrial software, thanks to early detection and correction of bugs and faults. Such a tool helps set up an efficient quality management system and better analyze data as to point out areas of improvement and dealt with them.
Carrying out tests is absolutely essential to validate the systems’ ISO 26262 compliance. ALM tools back you up to plan, execute and monitor functional security tests, making sure that any possible scenario and requirements are taken into account, and correctly tested. ALM tools also ease results-based management and anomaly detection.
Configuration Management and Version Control
An ALM software enables to manage applications’ configurations and versions, making it easier to implement development and maintenance processes that comply with the ISO 26262 standard. They hence ensure change traceability and help make sure that all the security requirements (amongst others) are met; and this, at each software lifecycle stage.
The benefits of an ALM tool for ISO 26262 compliance
An ALM tool allows both technical and non-technical teams to work more efficiently thanks to the automation of several tasks, workflows and processes. Also, they make collaboration easier among the different stakeholders involved throughout the application lifecycle. This is actually possible thanks to the integrated environment of an ALM solution, encouraging people to work together, in a productive and transparent way. So, as a consequence, an ALM tool also contributes to reduce development and delivery delays while improving the software quality.
ALM tools make it possible to cut development and maintenance costs since they enable teams to better manager each and every stage of the software lifecycle. They also help reduce the risks of non-compliance to the ISO 26262 standard, which could lead to financial penalties or even harm the brand image of the company.
Better team collaboration
ALM tools foster collaboration and communication among team members and other project stakeholder by centralizing and sharing information securely. These tools actually help align objectives and priorities, ensuring then a better synchronization – for instance – among the development, the test and the risk management teams.
Flexibility and scalability
ALM tools provide a great flexibility and can be truly adapted to the precise needs and projects of a given company. More than that, they are scalable, which means that they can be deployed to manage different projects (and handle multiple levels of complexity) and then make them evolve following the changing requirements of industry standards such as the ISO 26262.
In the end…
Application lifecycle management tools (ALM) play a crucial role in making ISO 26262 compliance easier. They provide powerful tools, a set of integrated key features that help manage any software application lifecycle stage, while enhancing teams’ efficiency. Companies operating in the automotive industry can definitely benefit from the deployment of such a tool: gain in efficiency and productivity, cost-effectiveness, functional safety risks reduction and overall higher software quality… are some great advantages brought by ALM solutions.