Specification Development – What are we trying to solve

Practically every project requires the development or at least updating of specifications as part of the process and normally an early part of that process. What are specifications other than a method to document how to solve a problem?


For this reason once the scope and purpose of the committee have been agreed, most specification development processes identify the problem or problems they are trying to solve by developing a series of “Use Cases.” These “Use Cases” are simply statements of the problems, or situations that are going to be addressed by the standard once it has been completed. Once agreed upon “Use Cases” are also a good reference to make sure that the work of the committee remains ‘in scope’ to what has been agreed is the problem being solved by this standard. If in the process of developing the standard additional opportunities are identified they can be captured as the basis for future work provided the new case is within the scope and purpose of the committee.

From the Use Cases, the committee then identifies the Requirements – what is needed to be able to solve the problem; however that will be the topic of another conversation.

I am in the process of applying these same principles to a project I am working on where we are trying to identify the right technology or technologies for a site wide network and of course the first question to ask was, “What’s the problem you are trying to solve? What types of signals from where to where?” Back to basics and a solid understanding of the problem to be able move to where you need to be with a viable long term solution.

If you have an idea for a new standard in the area of automation, the following link to the ISA web site http://www.isa.org/Template.cfm?Section=Standards_Proposal_Form&Template=/CustomSource/ISA/Standards/standardsproposal.cfm provides a way for you to get that information to the people (staff and volunteers) who review it for validity and then help you generate a call for volunteers to get you started creating your own set of Use Cases.

P.S. Sorry for my extended absence. I did not realise it had been so long, however with this 'thread' and the upcoming ISA Leader's meeting the next while should be better. As always if you have some topic(s) you would like to see discussed please let me know. - Ian