Advances in Project Management: Developing the system requirements for a local health care system in Cameroon


By Mario Kossmann 

Germany & UK


Using the example of a charity project that is concerned with the development of a local health care system in a deprived region of Cameroon, this article illustrates a systematic mind-mapping based approach [1] to developing system requirements. Particular emphasis is placed on the parallel development of a high-level system concept, representing first architectural decisions that have an influence on the development of the system requirements, which can then be mapped to specific system elements. These high-level conceptual views on the future system together with the derived system requirements can subsequently be used to launch a bidding process for the realization of specific system elements such as the construction of modular buildings of a health center by suppliers, e.g. local building companies or sub-contractors.

The project context of the system

The population in the region around the village of Siliyegue, which is about 60 km from the capital of Cameroon Yaoundé and surrounded by villages with similar needs, is suffering from multiple diseases; lack of pastoral and spiritual care; lack of secondary education, professional training and employment perspectives; lack of infrastructure such as proper roads, electricity, running drinking water and waste disposal; as well as lack of medical care in case of emergencies, in particular regarding first aid and related transportation capabilities [2].

The system under consideration is a comprehensive local health care system with a secondary school based around a new Salvatorian mission that address the needs identified above; in order to increase the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the local population in general, and thereby improve the average life expectancy and perceived quality of life. The local health care system is being designed, realized, integrated and delivered to the local population by means of an international charity project [2].

A system can be defined as an integrated set of interacting elements such as products, services, people, processes, hardware, software, firmware and information. It serves a defined purpose, may consist of a number of integrated sub-systems (‘system of systems’), and may be integrated itself into a wider system (the ‘served system’). Within a system, a number of people perform generic roles, operating different processes while using appropriate facilities, equipment and supplies, in order to serve the defined purpose of the system.

The Salvatorians (Society of the Divine Saviour) are a Roman Catholic religious order that operate globally. Salvatorian priests, sisters and brothers in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have already been running a number of nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools in the Congo, as well as two missions in Cameroon. At the global level, the Salvatorians are supported by the Salvatorian Office for International Aid (SOFIA), which is based in Rome, Italy, and facilitates financial support of development projects through governmental institutions, charity organizations and even individual donors [3].

In the following, the paper looks in turn at (1) a generic, mind-mapping based approach to develop system requirements and the importance of developing a high-level system concept in parallel; (2) a step-by-step example from the development of a health care system in Cameroon, covering the parallel development of both the system requirements and the high-level system concept; and (3) the emerging system elements and the high-level system concept of the health center that forms part of the local health care system.


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About the Author

flag-ukflag-germanypmwj16-nov2013-kossmann-IMAGE 2Dr. Mario Kossman

Germany & UK

Dr. Mario Kossmann is an experienced Systems Engineer and Capability Integrator for Airbus, having previously worked for Blohm & Voss as Systems Engineer, Technical Manager and Consultant in Services Marketing. He has served as a naval officer with the German and French navies, and was awarded an MEng in Aerospace Technology from the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich (Germany), an MBA from the University of Warwick (UK) and a Ph.D. in Requirements Engineering from the University of the West of England. He is the author of the books Delivering Excellent Service Quality in Aviation (Ashgate 2006) and Requirements Management – How to ensure that you achieve what you need from your projects (Gower 2013), as well as numerous research publications in the field of Systems Engineering. Mario is also a certified Project Manager and a Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP).

Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK.  The articles are coordinated by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM.  Prof Dalcher also provides an introduction to the current month’s article, which you can see elsewhere in this month’s edition.”  Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.