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Technology Readiness Level

Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is a method for estimating the maturity level of a particular technology. It was originally developed by NASA in the 1970s to assess the maturity of space technologies and has since been adapted for use in various industries, including software development.

In the context of software, TRL provides a systematic metric to assess the maturity of software technologies throughout the development process, from the concept phase through development and eventual deployment. It can help manage expectations and risks, plan the software development process, and communicate the status of the software technology to stakeholders.

Here is a general interpretation of TRLs for software development:

  1. TRL 1: Basic principles observed and reported. This is the “blue sky” stage, where the fundamental viability of a concept is explored.

  2. TRL 2: Technology concept and/or application formulated. Here, the basic concepts have been translated into a software concept.

  3. TRL 3: Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof of concept. This involves the development of limited functionality to validate key aspects of the technology.

  4. TRL 4: Component and/or system validation in a laboratory environment. At this level, a version of the software is developed and tested in a controlled setting.

  5. TRL 5: Component and/or system validation in a relevant environment. Here, the software is tested in an environment that closely matches the final application context.

  6. TRL 6: System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (early prototype). The software is further refined and tested in relevant environments.

  7. TRL 7: System prototype demonstration in an operational environment. This involves testing a prototype of the software in the final, operational context.

  8. TRL 8: Actual system completed and “flight qualified” through test and demonstration. At this level, the software is finalized and thoroughly tested, ready for deployment.

  9. TRL 9: Actual system “flight proven” through successful mission operations. The software is deployed and in operation.

While TRL provides a useful framework, specially in “process heavy” industries, it doesn’t align well with iterative models like Agile or Scrum, where features are continuously developed, integrated, and deployed in cycles.


Page last modified: 2023-05-17 01:55:14