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Practical Adoption of ECSS-E-ST-40C for Project Managers

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How to lower project costs through better communication? How not to join 41% of all Space missions that fail?

Strict compliance with the ECSS software standards in ESA-sponsored projects turns into much more ad-hoc adoption of the standards in the commercial sphere. The commercial Space sector is much more focused on the balance of cost and quality than government projects.

Each of the seven focus points of this Whitepaper brings along actionable advice for project managers and Quality Assurance staff:

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ECSS-E-ST-40C Practical Adoption | Free PDF Whitepaper

Compliance with the ECSS-E-ST-40C is not mandated by legislation. Requirements to follow the ECSS-E-ST-40C usually come from the project contracts. Most suppliers of Space systems use the standard as a means of increasing trust and assurance in the eyes of customers.

In many industries, government-established organizations like TÜV or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) control the safety certification of the systems. The certification bodies recognize selected standards as acceptable means of assuring system safety – e.g., ISO26262 for Automotive, EN50657 for Railway, or DO-178 for Aerospace.

The Space industry is different. Most of the Space systems today are automatic probes without a human crew – where functional safety is not considered. The requirement for compliance with the ECSS-E-ST-40C software standard usually comes from the contract.

Compliance with the ECSS-E-ST-40C is mandatory for all projects of the European Space Agency. In the commercial sphere, however, customers and suppliers use ECSS-E-ST-40C primarily to increase software quality and de-risk the project.

Although claiming compliance with ECSS-E-ST-40C may have a significant marketing value for the suppliers, the two commercially-valuable aspects that motivate the use of the ECSS-E-ST-40C are consensus and trust in the product.

The consensus about the content of project deliverables allows the customer to see the actual scope, status, and quality growth – thereby significantly de-risking the project and delivering transparently on time and within budget.

The trust in the supplier’s product is built through the tailored implementation of the ECSS-E-ST-40C-recommended life-cycle processes and assurance activities (ECSS-E-ST-40C section 4).

Actionable Advice

Establish a schema of joint technical and project reviews at the beginning of the project. See ECSS-E-ST-40C, section 5.3.3 Joint review process.

The effort to promote the project and technical transparency will make the customer more engaged, bringing clarity to the requirements and expectations.

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