How can I use the V-Model with SAP Product Lifecycle Management?

The V-Model combines three highly interconnected components of product development: mechanics, electronics and informatics. Here are the steps for using it with SAP PLM.

The V-Model can bring together three critical components of product development -- mechanics, electronics and informatics -- to ensure an integrated approach to product development. Different components of SAP Product Lifecycle Management in SAP ERP Central Component support product development initiatives using the V-Model.

What is the V-Model?

Before we cover how SAP PLM supports the V-Model, let's first understand what the V-Model is. In the V-Model, all product development steps appear in a "V" shape -- from a product's design to its testing and validation. The left side of the "V" represents the design phase in which requirements and specifications of a product are identified. The right side of the "V" details the product prototype phases, their integration and different stages of product testing and validation. The base point of the "V" represents the actual implementation of product development components that include mechanics, electronics and informatics.

The V-Model found its original application in the software development lifecycle before finding greater usage and acceptance in product development. It is also known as a verification and validation model and is based on an extension of the Waterfall approach.

Matching V-Model steps with SAP Product Lifecycle Management components

The V-Model can bring together three critical components of product development to ensure an integrated approach to product development.

Here are some of the important steps of the V-Model and the associated SAP Product Lifecycle Management components that support these steps:

  1. Clarify tasks. The process flow starts with task clarification, during which the stakeholders' requirements are determined. SAP Portfolio and Product Management (PPM) can gather all requirements in one place.
  2. Capture product properties. The stakeholders' requirements from the previous step define the product properties, such as weight, volume and size. Apart from PPM, the SAP New Product Development and Introduction component can capture the requisite details.
  3. Design systems. The above step is then followed by the system design step in which teams from mechanical engineering, electronics and software development come together to outline logical or physical subsystems required for a new product. Together, these teams define their interfaces and interdependencies. Teams can use SAP PPM or the Project System (PS) component of ERP Central Component to record and maintain all logical links among mechanical engineering, electronics and software development. To maintain a complete trail of project documentation, the SAP Document Management System (DMS) component of PLM can be put to use as a stand-alone system or can also be integrated with SAP PS.
  4. Determine communication channels. The system design step also enables different teams to find integration points where the teams need to communicate and coordinate among themselves and across departments. As a rule of thumb, this step is more applicable to new product development than products that need new or expanded features or variants. The above listed SAP PLM components can be put to use.
  5. Expand the previous V-Model. For the development of a new variant of an existing product, the previous V-Model framework used in the original or last product development is often expanded upon and improvised. Here, again using SAP DMS and its versioning capabilities can be put to use.
  6. Create test packages. The steps of product development in the V-Model go through several rounds of iterations, testing and validations -- not only at an individual level but also in integrated ways that bring mechanics, electronics and informatics together. SAP Solution Manager can be used to create test packages. A test package contains test steps, as well as the option to record tests' results.

A downside of using the V-Model with SAP Product Lifecycle Management

A slight drawback of using the V-Model is that problems or errors are only identified during the integration of subsystems -- mechanics, electronics and informatics -- when they are all put together for evaluation of the product's overall working and performance.

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