The System Requirements define what the ICM system must do to meet the user needs identified in the Concept of Operations. The System Validation Plan outlines how stakeholders will determine, at the end of the project, whether the completed system satisfies those user needs.
In the systems engineering framework, an initial system validation plan is typically developed early in the engineering process, often after completion of the Concept of Operations, and may be periodically updated as the project progresses. The plan may include specific validation procedures to be followed during the validation process, but those procedures might also be developed closer to the start of actual System Validation when a clearer understanding of system functionalities is available. At the end of the validation process, the project team produces a report detailing the outcomes of the validation tests.
For the I-210 Pilot, the project team produced the Validation Plan after System Requirements were finalized, as shown in the project timeline:
Since requirements development was a process of defining how the system would meet user needs, creating a plan for testing whether those needs were met was the next logical step.
Validation vs. Verification
It is important to distinguish validation from verification. Both activities assess how a system has been built. The difference is the focus of the assessment:
- Verification—Was the system built right? Verification is the confirmation, through objective evidence, that the system requirements have been fulfilled. The question being asked here is whether the design of the system correctly and completely embodies the requirements, i.e., whether the system was built right.
- Validation—Was the right system built? Validation is the confirmation, again through objective evidence, that the developed system effectively achieves its intended purpose and meets the user needs it was developed to address. In other words, validation attempts to determine whether the right system has been built.
The majority of system verification can be performed before a system is deployed. Validation, however, really cannot be completed until a system is in its operational environment and is being used by its intended users. For instance, validation of a new traffic signal control system cannot be completed until the new system is in place and observations can be made on how effectively it controls traffic.
Click image to download Validation Plan