Development of management software for production data in an ongoing billion-euro project

Digitalisation does not work without interfaces. This becomes really clear especially when you try to ensure consistent process chains beyond the boundaries of your own company. Custom applications need to be developed and integrated for highly specific requirements in order to be able to ensure seamless process chains from the supplier through to the customer.

An international corporation from the aerospace and defence sector was, as part of a new development project, faced with the challenge of creating the interface between the enterprise systems used and the suppliers. In this context, the customer requested that we develop an application that orchestrates all of the design data and the associated files in a way that ensures configuration security and traceability and that transfers the data to the relevant suppliers. The focus lay not only on pure application development but also on the configuration-secure mapping of more than a hundred thousand items of production data that were already in production.

Our team firstly analysed the existing process landscape and the tooling used. An initial concept for the design and mapping of the business processes in the new application was created in workshops with the stakeholders. Great emphasis was placed on the automation of specific sub-processes. The IT interfaces to the existing PLM and ERP systems were then defined and a draft schedule of roles and rights was drawn up. At the end of this first phase, our software development team developed a prototype so as to subsequently ensure and fine-tune the requirements within the framework of a concept verification process with the customer.

In a second step, a minimum viable product (MVP) was developed out of this. At the end of each four-week development sprint, stakeholder reviews were then held to further fine-tune the requirements iteratively. Particularly for software development in a highly regulated and security-critical environment, the development methodology needs to be adjusted. For this, our development experts draw on proven procedural models from the environment of similar large construction projects.

In parallel with application development, we work jointly with the local project team to devise a concept for the migration of the existing data from legacy systems and the tools used. Additional routines were set up for this to highlight inconsistencies and incorrect data and to automate the data migration to the largest extent possible.

The result: The processes for production data transfer were depicted in user-friendly workflows. The existing processes were optimised using automated data-quality and compliance checks, significantly reducing the rate of errors in the data transfer process. Cross-section comparison functions can be used to compare the configuration statuses of various construction projects in the system and corresponding measures can be introduced. A real-time reporting system provides valuable metrics for project management. Developing this custom software solution and integrating it into the existing IT infrastructure closed the process chain and ensured configuration security for the long term.

We would like to sincerely thank our customer project team for their trustworthy collaboration.

The seamless integration of the new application while production was already in full swing was certainly the critical factor in this project. By using proven methods from agile software development and close consultation with the project participants, we were nonetheless able to meet this challenge and adhere to the tight schedule.”

Finn Laßmann, Project Manager, digitalsalt GmbH