Case Study

Kavi and the VMEbus International Trade Association

VITA advances work on standards and specifications using the Workspace platform.

Introduction

Faced with the departure of a key technical staff member and an aging collection of in-house, custom tools, the VMEbus International Trade Association – VITA was forced to reassess their mission-critical collaboration methods. VITA adopted Kavi Workspace to support the hundreds of engineers working together on industry standards despite initial trepidation about disrupted workflows and lost data. The migration has been a success, with far less “pain” than the organization anticipated.

“Now, instead of manually archiving files and other tedious tasks, I’m spending my time investigating ways in which VITA working groups can better utilize Workspace in order to take full advantage of all the features the software has to offer.”

— Jing Kwok, Technical Director, VITA

How VITA has Grown Over the Years

The official introduction of VMEbus was made at the Systems ’81 Show in Munich by Motorola, Mostek, Signetics/Philips, and Thomson-CSF. The potential of VMEbus quickly attracted attention from industry stakeholders resulting in the founding of the VMEbus Manufacturers Group in 1982. By 1984, the VMEbus Manufacturers Group became the VMEbus International Trade Association (VITA) to accelerate the technical and commercial acceptance of VMEbus. The VITA Technical Committee was formed at that time to drive the technical activities related to further development of the VMEbus specification and make it an industry standard. VITA’s charter was expanded when American National Standard Institute (ANSI) accreditation was granted in June of 1993 leading to the formation of the VITA Standards Organization (VSO), officially making VITA an industry recognized standards development organization (SDO) for open architecture, embedded computing technology.

Today, VITA standards are used in life-critical or safety-critical systems, a.k.a. critical embedded systems. Examples include medical imaging, space launch controls, semiconductor processing, transportation, and defense systems whose failure or malfunction may result in death or serious injury to people, loss or severe damage to equipment, environmental harm, or significant financial losses. These high-stakes require VITA standards be developed using a process that is exact, transparent, accountable, and traceable.

Reaching End-of-Life on In-house Systems

Like many SDOs, VITA’s process for developing standards consisted of a number of handcrafted, disparate systems such as spreadsheets, databases, calendars, emails, and intranets that were not well connected. These components required ongoing daily management: filing documents, trouble shooting for working group members, and other tedious manual tasks.

After twenty years of service, VITA’s technical director was retiring and taking with him institutional knowledge and a learning curve for old systems that his successor would never be able to obtain. The combination of the technical director’s retirement and advancements in collaboration software created the perfect opportunity for VITA to seek a new solution that would coalesce their systems and aid working group members to work more effectively and efficiently.

Finding a New Collaboration Solution

In 2013, VITA began researching collaboration solutions that would improve their processes and systems, was industry tested, and facilitated the standards auditing process of ANSI. VITA required a solution that also was easy to tailor for VITA working groups, provided a conversion process from old systems that would cause the least amount of interruption as possible, and offered the potential for adapting to changing technologies and working group needs quicker and easier in the future.

These parameters led VITA to choose the leading solution on the market: Kavi Workspace. In May 2014, VITA began the conversion process alongside key Kavi staff. Within a few short weeks, Kavi set up configurations, users, working groups, and moved documents from the old repository to the new repository.

A Positive Outcome

With a minimal training ramp, most working group members were able to be productive quickly. Kavi Workspace enabled more accountability by working group members, fostered more effective communication, and saved time and money in the standards development process. Balloting and ANSI auditing requirements, previously highly manual, were particularly well supported. Not surprisingly, the Kavi solution was quickly embraced.

Additionally, the new solution reduced the workload of VITA’s new technical director Jing Kwok. “We used to use a custom system to manage our standards activity; by moving to Kavi Workspace in the last year we have been able to reduce our work-load by half a full-time equivalent (FTE),” said Kwok. Jerry Gipper, Executive Director of VITA, adds, “Our committee chairs are now able to start ballots on their own and committee members can now directly upload documents, both without the need for VITA staff intervention. Balloting is now done in a more timely fashion and communication between members is more efficient.”

There are almost 1,000 committee members using the VITA Workspace less than a year later, and seven to ten new users are being added each week. VITA now has 57 active VITA working groups contributing over 1,000 documents in the VITA repository. Nearly 1,500 emails have been archived; 43 ballots have been issued; and, most importantly, VITA recently released ANSI/VITA 78.00-2015, SpaceVPX Systems, the first major specification to be completed using Workspace. Four additional specifications were also finalized in the last year using the VITA Workspace:

Kwok is excited about the possibilities of Workspace, “Now, instead of manually archiving files and other tedious tasks, I’m spending my time investigating ways in which VITA working groups can better utilize Workspace in order to take full advantage of all the features the software has to offer.”

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Organization Profile

VITA’s mission includes not only promoting VMEbus, but promoting the concept of open technology as embodied in the many standards currently under development within the VITA Standards Organization (VSO).

Challenge

VITA faced an “end-of-life” situation with a customized in-house software solution that was not upgradeable.

Solution

Kavi Workspace was identified as the industry-leading collaboration platform for standards developers and was implemented in 2014.

Impact on Organization

The user community experienced a smooth transition with modest training requirements. The flexibility of Workspace allowed VITA to fully support their open standards development processes.

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