IATF 16949:2016 Clause Automotive product-related software or automotive products with embedded software

Automotive product-related software refers to any software or computer programs that are used in or integrated with automotive products or systems. These software applications are designed to enhance the functionality, performance, and safety of vehicles and automotive systems. There are two main categories of automotive product-related software:

  1. Embedded Software in Automotive Products: Embedded software refers to software programs that are permanently stored and executed on microcontrollers or microprocessors within automotive products or components. These products include:
    • Engine Control Units (ECUs): Embedded software controls various aspects of the engine, such as fuel injection, ignition timing, and emission control, to optimize performance and efficiency.
    • Transmission Control Units (TCUs): Embedded software manages the operation of automatic or semi-automatic transmissions to ensure smooth shifting and improved fuel efficiency.
    • Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS): Embedded software controls the ABS system to prevent wheel lock-up during hard braking, enhancing vehicle stability and control.
    • Infotainment Systems: Embedded software powers the multimedia, navigation, and communication features in modern infotainment systems.
    • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS): Embedded software enables features like lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and collision avoidance systems.
  2. Automotive Product-Related Software Applications: This category includes software applications that are not embedded in the vehicle’s hardware but are used in the automotive industry for design, simulation, diagnostics, testing, and other purposes. Examples include:
    • Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) software: Used for designing and simulating automotive components and systems before physical prototypes are built.
    • Vehicle Diagnostics Software: Used by technicians to identify and troubleshoot issues in vehicles by communicating with the vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system.
    • Vehicle Testing Software: Utilized for conducting various tests and simulations on vehicles to evaluate performance, safety, and emissions.
    • Fleet Management Software: Helps manage and monitor vehicle fleets, including tracking vehicle locations, maintenance schedules, and fuel consumption.

The integration of software in modern automobiles has become increasingly complex, as vehicles are becoming more technologically advanced and connected. Automotive product-related software plays a vital role in ensuring vehicle performance, safety, and user experience, making it a critical focus area for automotive manufacturers and suppliers.

Clause Automotive product-related software or automotive products with embedded software

The organization shall require their suppliers of automotive product-related software, or automotive products with embedded software, to implement and maintain a process for software quality assurance for their products. A software development assessment methodology shall be utilized to assess the supplier’s software development process. Using prioritization based on risk and potential impact to the customer, the organization shall require the supplier to retain documented information of a software development capability self-assessment.

Supplier’s software quality assurance process

Requiring suppliers of automotive product-related software or automotive products with embedded software to implement and maintain a process for software quality assurance is essential to ensure the reliability, safety, and performance of their products. Here are the key steps to achieve this:

  1. Software Quality Assurance Policy: Suppliers should establish a clear and comprehensive software quality assurance policy that outlines their commitment to delivering high-quality software products. The policy should align with industry standards and customer requirements.
  2. Software Development Process: Develop a well-defined software development process that includes all the necessary stages from requirements gathering and design to coding, testing, and validation. Ensure that the process adheres to recognized software development standards such as Automotive SPICE (Software Process Improvement and Capability Determination) or ISO 26262 (Functional Safety for Road Vehicles).
  3. Risk Management: Implement risk management practices specific to software development. Identify potential risks associated with software errors, safety hazards, or performance issues and devise mitigation strategies.
  4. Software Testing and Validation: Establish robust testing procedures for software components and systems. This includes unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and validation against user requirements and safety standards.
  5. Version Control and Configuration Management: Implement version control and configuration management to keep track of software changes, ensuring traceability and easy rollback to previous versions if necessary.
  6. Change Management: Have a well-documented change management process to handle software changes, updates, and patches, ensuring that changes are thoroughly reviewed, approved, and tested before implementation.
  7. Software Documentation: Maintain detailed documentation for all software components, including design documents, code comments, test cases, and user manuals. Clear documentation enhances maintainability and allows for better collaboration among teams.
  8. Software Tool Validation: Validate and qualify the software development tools used in the process to ensure they are appropriate for their intended use and do not introduce errors or inconsistencies.
  9. Training and Competence: Ensure that the software development team receives proper training and has the necessary skills and expertise to perform their roles effectively.
  10. Continuous Improvement: Establish a culture of continuous improvement by regularly reviewing the software development process and performance metrics. Use feedback and lessons learned to identify areas for enhancement and implement corrective actions.
  11. Compliance and Audits: Conduct internal audits to assess compliance with the established software quality assurance process. Additionally, prepare for external audits or assessments, especially if required by customers or regulatory bodies.

By implementing a robust software quality assurance process, suppliers can enhance the reliability, safety, and performance of their automotive product-related software or products with embedded software. This not only benefits the suppliers but also contributes to a more reliable and trustworthy supply chain for the automotive industry as a whole.

Software development assessment methodology to assess the supplier’s software development process

Using a software development assessment methodology to assess the supplier’s software development process is a proactive and systematic approach to ensure the quality, reliability, and compliance of their software products. This assessment helps identify strengths and areas for improvement, enabling the supplier to enhance their software development practices. Here’s how to conduct a software development assessment:

  1. Select an Assessment Methodology: Choose a recognized and appropriate software development assessment methodology. Common methodologies include CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration), Automotive SPICE (Software Process Improvement and Capability Determination), or ISO/IEC 15504 (also known as SPICE).
  2. Define Assessment Scope: Clearly define the scope of the assessment, specifying the software products or projects to be assessed, the relevant development processes, and the assessment objectives.
  3. Gather Documentation: Request the supplier to provide relevant documentation related to their software development process, such as process descriptions, design documents, test plans, and quality records.
  4. On-Site or Remote Assessment: Decide whether the assessment will be conducted on-site at the supplier’s location or remotely, depending on the practicality and nature of the assessment.
  5. Conduct Interviews: Engage with key personnel involved in the software development process, including developers, testers, project managers, and quality assurance personnel. Conduct interviews to understand their roles, responsibilities, and process adherence.
  6. Review Artifacts: Analyze the provided documentation and artifacts to evaluate the implementation of the software development process. Ensure that the documented processes align with the actual practices.
  7. Assessment Criteria: Use the chosen methodology’s assessment criteria to evaluate the supplier’s software development process. Assess the maturity level, capability, and compliance with industry standards and best practices.
  8. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses: Identify the strengths and best practices observed during the assessment, as well as areas where improvement is needed. Document the findings and provide actionable feedback.
  9. Provide Recommendations: Based on the assessment results, provide specific and practical recommendations to the supplier to enhance their software development process. These recommendations should prioritize critical areas and support continuous improvement.
  10. Follow-up and Monitoring: After the assessment, follow up with the supplier to monitor their progress in implementing the recommended improvements. Offer guidance and support as needed.
  11. Repeat Assessments: Conduct periodic follow-up assessments to track the supplier’s progress and verify the effectiveness of the implemented improvements.

By utilizing a software development assessment methodology, the organization can gain insights into the supplier’s software development capabilities and ensure that the supplier is capable of delivering high-quality software products that meet the required standards and customer expectations. The assessment contributes to a more reliable and robust supply chain for the automotive industry.

Prioritizing based on risk and potential impact to the customer

Prioritizing based on risk and potential impact to the customer is a prudent approach for suppliers of automotive product-related software or automotive products with embedded software. By focusing on high-risk areas, suppliers can effectively allocate their resources and efforts to ensure that critical aspects of their software development process receive the necessary attention. Here’s how to prioritize based on risk and potential impact:

  1. Risk Identification: Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment of the software development process, considering factors like safety-critical functionalities, regulatory requirements, complexity, and past performance. Identify potential risks that could impact the quality, safety, or reliability of the software.
  2. Risk Categorization: Categorize the identified risks based on their severity and potential impact on the customer, product performance, and compliance. Classify risks as high, medium, or low based on their criticality.
  3. Impact Analysis: Analyze the potential consequences of each high and medium-risk identified. Consider the impact on product functionality, safety, customer satisfaction, and compliance with relevant standards.
  4. Customer-Centric Approach: Prioritize risks and development efforts with a customer-centric approach. Focus on risks that have the most significant potential impact on customers’ safety, experience, or business operations.
  5. Regulatory Compliance: Address risks related to non-compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards. Prioritize the resolution of issues that could lead to non-compliance with safety standards or regulations governing the automotive industry.
  6. Safety-Critical Functions: Give priority to risks associated with safety-critical functions or features of the software. Ensure that these aspects meet the highest quality standards and undergo rigorous testing and validation.
  7. Resource Allocation: Allocate resources and efforts based on the prioritized risks. Devote more attention, testing, and verification activities to high-risk areas to minimize the likelihood of critical failures.
  8. Continuous Monitoring: Continuously monitor the risks throughout the software development process. As new risks emerge or existing risks change, adjust the prioritization and development efforts accordingly.
  9. Collaboration with Customers: Engage in open communication with customers to understand their specific concerns, expectations, and priorities related to software quality and safety. Incorporate customer feedback into the risk assessment process.
  10. Traceability and Documentation: Maintain proper traceability and documentation of the risk assessment process, including the rationale behind prioritization decisions. This documentation helps support decision-making and audits.

By prioritizing based on risk and potential impact to the customer, suppliers can proactively address critical aspects of their software development process and ensure the delivery of high-quality, safe, and reliable automotive product-related software or products with embedded software. This approach also demonstrates the supplier’s commitment to customer satisfaction and compliance with industry standards.

Software development capability self-assessment.

Requiring suppliers to retain documented information of a software development capability self-assessment is essential for transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement. This documentation serves as evidence of the supplier’s self-assessment process, its findings, and the actions taken to enhance their software development capability. Here’s what the supplier’s documented information should include:

  1. Self-Assessment Scope and Objectives: Clearly define the scope and objectives of the self-assessment. This includes specifying the software development processes, projects, or products covered by the assessment and the intended outcomes.
  2. Assessment Methodology: Describe the methodology used for the self-assessment, including any industry-standard models or frameworks followed, such as CMMI, Automotive SPICE, ISO/IEC 15504, or other relevant standards.
  3. Assessment Criteria: Outline the criteria used to evaluate the software development capability. This may include process maturity levels, capability levels, compliance with standards, and best practices.
  4. Assessment Activities: Document the specific activities carried out during the self-assessment, such as interviews with key personnel, review of documentation, and analysis of artifacts.
  5. Assessment Findings: Record the findings of the self-assessment, including strengths and weaknesses identified in the software development processes, areas for improvement, and potential risks.
  6. Action Plans and Improvement Initiatives: Detail the action plans and improvement initiatives developed based on the assessment findings. This should include specific measures to address identified weaknesses and enhance the software development capability.
  7. Responsibility and Accountability: Specify the individuals or teams responsible for implementing the improvement initiatives and their associated timelines.
  8. Monitoring and Follow-up: Outline the approach for monitoring the progress of the improvement initiatives and conducting follow-up assessments to assess the effectiveness of the implemented changes.
  9. Lessons Learned: Include any lessons learned during the self-assessment process, including insights gained, challenges faced, and best practices discovered.
  10. Document Control: Ensure proper version control and document management for the self-assessment documentation, so that it remains up-to-date and accessible when needed.
  11. Retention Period: Define the retention period for the self-assessment documentation, considering any regulatory or contractual requirements.

By retaining documented information of the software development capability self-assessment, the supplier demonstrates their commitment to quality, continuous improvement, and meeting industry standards. It also provides transparency to customers and other stakeholders, helping to build trust in the supplier’s software development processes and capabilities.

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