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SWE-153 - ETA Define Document Content

1. Requirements

2.1.5.14 The designated Engineering Technical Authority(s) shall define the content requirements for software documents or records.

1.1 Notes

The recommended practices and guidelines for the content of different types of software activities (whether stand-alone or condensed into one or more project level or software documents or electronic files) are defined in NASA-HDBK-2203. The Center defined content should address prescribed content, format, maintenance instructions, and submittal requirements for all software related records. The designated Technical Authority for software approves the required software content for projects within their scope of authority. Electronic submission of data deliverables is preferred.   “Software records should be in accordance with NPR 7120.5, NPD 2810.1, NPR 2800.1 and NPR 2810.1.”

1.2 History

Click here to view the history of this requirement: SWE-153 History

2. Rationale

Software development requires documentation and implementation. Software development activities require decisions and work results (e.g., requirements, design, the outcome of reviews, etc.) to be captured as building blocks throughout the software life cycle. Software developers and software acquisitions need to know what documentation expectations exist for a development project.  Having defined and approved content descriptions for project documentation allows these needs and more to be met.

3. Guidance

Typically, software documentation content is defined in a Center data requirements management system or equivalent.  The Engineering Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) is responsible for approving any proposed tailoring of that defined content.  If the content required for the software documentation is the same as the defined content in the Center data requirements, then the ETA job is easy. 

The ETA on a project coordinates with the Engineering Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR) and the software engineering organizations to ensure modifications to the documentation content are acceptable.  The policy for Center-wide data management is provided in NPR 7123.1 041, Systems Engineering Processes and data management implementation guidance to program/projects is documented in Center Data Management Guidance.

Topic 7.18 – Documentation Guidance in this Handbook provides a minimum set of contents for software project documentation at the Agency level.  The designated ETAs at each Center can choose to use this minimum content “as is” or use it to define a set of Center documentation descriptions that are specific to the software projects at that Center.

Center-specific, ETA-approved documentation descriptions for software-related records include the following basic elements:

  • Specific content – list and description of expected content; topics with descriptions of material and information to be addressed and included in the document.
  • Content format – format of specified content within the document itself; the structure of the document; document layout.
  • Maintenance instructions – guidelines for when (frequency, criteria) and how the document is to be updated, revised, kept current with project progress and activities; may include recommendations regarding who is to perform the maintenance activities.
  • Submittal requirements – guidance for the delivery of a document to NASA (for contracted software development efforts) or project personnel such as management and peers, including delivery frequency, format (electronic is preferred), instructions for placement into electronic repositories, etc.

Electronic submission of data deliverables is preferred, so the defined content, format, maintenance, and submittal requirements defined by the ETA are to encourage electronic delivery.

Documentation content can be specified as a set of templates, data item descriptions (DIDs), database forms, or any other format that can be accessed and used by Center projects as well as added to subcontractor software development agreements by acquisition personnel.

The approved documentation guidance is kept in a Center-level repository for ease of access by Center projects and acquisition personnel. Center-specific guidance and resources, such as templates, are typically available in Center Process Asset Libraries (PALs).  

Center documentation guidance may also be submitted for addition to the Software Processes Across NASA (SPAN) repository.  NASA-specific documentation templates, examples, checklists, and more are available in SPAN, accessible to NASA users from the SPAN tab in this Handbook.

4. Small Projects

No additional guidance is available for small projects. 


5. Resources

5.1 References


5.2 Tools


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6. Lessons Learned

6.1 NASA Lessons Learned

No Lessons Learned have currently been identified for this requirement.

6.2 Other Lessons Learned

No other Lessons Learned have currently been identified for this requirement.



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