Concept and Requirements Phase


A new project starts for a reason. Something needs to be improved upon. In the very early stages of any project the focus of Human Factors is to identify and detail the existing issues. The emphasis will be on characterising the environment, end-users, the functions they need to carry out and the processes and tools they use. This is done as a baseline (current performance) and predicted (the future or goal performance). Human factors output in this early stage will provide the project with joined up thinking about what currently happens and what will happen in the future and importantly a rationale as to what needs to change and why (from a system / human performance perspective).

  • User Characterisation

A target Audience Description (TAD) will identify all the people affected by the project and detail the population anthropometry, skills, competencies and training (as applicable) as a record of 'who' the designers are designing for. This can be an important base document in the development of requirements, design and Training Needs.

  • Task Analysis / Operations Analysis

Managers and employees often think they know what it is they do and how the operations work. They think they have provided the designers with a good description of what they do and what they want to do in the future. In most cases they don't, and they haven't. Many projects fail or end up costing more because this is done poorly, leading to poor requirements capture. People often forget that the designers and software engineers are not likely to be experts in the very specific thing they are being asked to develop, and during the design process, the experts are too busy doing their jobs to support the project. The net result is that the system is often not designed for the end-users.

A Baseline Task Analysis is a document that details what currently happens, when it happens, where it happens, what tools are used, who is involved etc so that everybody, including the designers have a thorough and shared understanding of what currently happens.

A Predictive Task Analysis is a document that details the aspiration for what will happen, and how, so the designers have a thorough understanding of the detailed project goals.

  • Concept of Operations (CONOPS) or Operational Concept

The Operational Concept or Concept of Operations is the leadership vision of what the organisation is moving toward. What the new capability is and how it will function. It is not normally the task of the HF practitioner to develop this document but if the task analysis has been carried out at this stage it can be an important contribution. Like the task analysis, the Operational Concept can be a very important document in the development of a shared understanding or a shared goal that everyone is moving toward.

  • Requirements Development / Capture

The development of clear requirements is essential as they often form the basis of the contract. Human Factors practitioners will focus on the development of User Performance Requirements and HF specific System Requirements and Safety Requirement, as well as process requirements that will ensure the delivery of better, safer, viable human performance.

The development of Satety Requirements may require Human Failures Assessment, whereupon Human Error Identification and Quantification is undertaken in support of the development of the safest designs.

  • HFI Management

Around this time the HF practitioner will be developing the HFIP, establishing an issues and assumptions database whilst integrating with the other systems and project engineers.

Return to: Human Factors Integration

Next Phase: Design and Assessment

© adw Human Factors Ltd 2011