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This is the first video of a series about Automotive SPICE Assessments. The series is presented by Juan Webb, Managing Director at Kugler Maag Cie North America. He is also a trainer and the intacs™ representative for North America. In this episode, you’ll get familiar what an Automotive SPICE Assessment is about.

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Automotive SPICE® Assessments. Part 1: What is an ASPICE Assessment?

This video's intent is to answer three important questions

  1. What is the essence of an ASPICE Assessment?
  2. What is the scope of an ASPICE Assessment?
  3. What is the focus of an ASPICE Assessment?
1. What is an ASPICE Assessment about?

What do we normally mean by an ASPICE Assessment about? You will usually encounter an ASPICE Assessment if you work for a supplier where you’re developing automotive electronics. Your customer expects your applied processes to meet certain criteria.

With the criteria of ASPICE in mind, you can design processes in a purposeful way. The quality of your processes can affect the reliability of your product. Surprised? Let's say you can't control the configuration of a major release. Then your customer fails to integrate your system into the car. The consequence: Just because of the missing system, the car manufacturer has to postpone the start of production. Reliable processes can therefore be mission critical! ASPICE provides you with elementary process criteria based on industry experience.

Hence, the assessment is designed to evaluate whether your processes reflect these criteria. To do this, an assessment checks the implementation of a process against the process requirements specified by ASPICE.

Many professionals feel uncomfortable when it comes to an assessment: Your customer may send a third-party person to your organization who evaluates your processes extensively. At the end of the day, the customer is told the level of capabilities in the assessed project. You, in turn, will benefit from report of an ASPICE Assessment that provides guidance for process improvement. 

An ASPICE Assessment
this is the evaluation of the capabilities that exist within your R&D processes.

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2. What is the scope of an ASPICE Assessment?

Automotive SPICE is derived from the acronym for SPICE: Software Process Improvement and Capability Determination. So, the last character stands for dEtermination – the capability level reached by your processes. Ultimately, ASPICE is a process assessment model for determining the capabilities of your development processes.

Since your customer requests the assessments, the assessment scope contains a selection of processes that are performed in the customer’s project. The capability level therefore refers to these processes - ASPICE assessments usually do not cover the entire R&D. If you work for car maker A, the assessment only refers to processes applied to projects for ca maker A. Processes for car makers B and C are not considered. 

With ASPICE, there are only assessments, no audits. In other domains, there are exhausting debates about their distinction: An audit is against the process and refers to a management system. For this, the evaluation follows a binary logic, determining only whether the requirements have been met or not. 

An ASPICE assessment examines your processes based on actual evidence: To the assessor, you must use work products to prove your processes meet the requirements. In the ASPICE assessment, you are asked only about the ASPICE requirements - not about additional internal process requirements.

In doing so, ASPICE takes a much more fine-grained approach than an audit: instead of simply determining whether you passed, ASPICE looks at many parameters. This starts with what are called base and generic practices: These practices reflect good industry practice. Here, you list the process requirements necessary to achieve the process goal (process outcomes). You use work products to demonstrate the implementation of these practices. This gives the assessor an indication of process capability. Thus, he can apply a process attribute to the process and evaluate it.

The assessment then reveals the extent to which certain processes, or their attributes, meet the ASPICE requirements. So, you’ll get one level statement per assessed process. Based on a matrix, this statement aggregates the ratings of base practices, process attributes, and capability levels to an instance. In the end, a detailed picture emerges of how goal-oriented the project's R&D processes are, and where there is potential for improvement. This makes an ASPICE assessment a valuable asset.

An ASPICE Assessment
covers a set of processes in a particular project.

There, it extensively determines the potential for process improvements.

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3. What are the different types of ASPICE Assessment?

What is the purpose of your ASPICE assessment? Do you want to provide a basis for process improvement, or do you want to determine process risk that could have an impact on a specific release?  An ASPICE assessment supports both goals, but the approaches differ. 

  • Process improvement assessments identify strengths and weaknesses of the processes: In other words, are the processes fit for purpose? With this information, you can redesign your processes to mitigate weaknesses. Use this type of assessments used in the process improvement phase, and to prepare preparation for a product risk assessment.
  • Can you encounter quality risks effectively? To find an answer to this question is the intent of a product risk assessment. In a release, the assessment represents the customer's view who wants to get a reliable product in time.

Let me give you a practical example to explain: SWE.6 is the Software Qualification Test process. In a process improvement assessment, we review the implementation of the process against the ASPICE process requirements. For this, we are inspecting appropriate examples. One fifth of the requirements are sufficient for a test here.  

On the other hand, in a product risk assessment, if only 20% of the requirements had been tested for a release, then there is a significant risk that the software will not function properly.

Whether your assessment scope is on a product improvement project or on product risks, the assessment is about the capabilities associated with the processes.

Summary

That takes us through all the points I wanted to make. Let me conclude by summarising the most important aspects in the form of three insights.

  • An ASPICE assessment is the evaluation of the capabilities that exist within your R&D processes, including their strengths and weaknesses.
  • An ASPICE assessment covers a set of processes in a particular project.
  • An ASPICE assessment is about the capabilities of processes to either develop products in a high-performance manner or to deliver them reliably.
We're here for you

Need support with a key project? We’re your first port of call when it comes to management consulting and improvement programmes in electronics development.

Steffen Herrmann and the sales team

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