The Value Proposition of a Pre-emptive DFSS Process
The analysis of product or project failures demonstrates, although the development 'Failed' in later stages, that the actual cause of the failure usually occurred in the earliest conceptual design period of the process. However, most organizations, at best, only demonstrate ad-hoc approaches to their design processes at the synthesis phase, mostly due to a lack of available DFSS process technology. As a result, most quality efforts are inspection and analysis techniques to 'Undo' mistakes already committed. Functional Specs, Inc. provides DFSS technology in the form of a pre-emptive design process that enables companies to implement a rational, quantitative approach to design. With this framework, practitioners can assess the design quality and mitigate development risk in the earliest phase of the design process, the requirements analysis and design synthesis phase.
If it's not Axiomatic, it's not DFSS.
The axiomatic design process, developed at MIT, reduces cost, speeds time to market and lowers risk in systems and hardware development:
Measuring Design Quality
Today in most product design endeavors the only design quality approach is inspection, usually by a Gate Review process, after the CAD or similar formal documentation cycle. By then, any major design mistakes have been committed to costly formalization of documentation. And, if found, design mistakes are difficult to undo.
Axiomatic Design offers a lightweight functional modeling tool to posit and analyze designs for quality by applying the design axioms to the design model. Architectural and decision errors can be visualized and corrected BEFORE committing them to CAD documentation.
Avoiding Design-Build-Test-Redesign cycles
One of the larger components of development delays are the cycles of Design-Build-Test-Redesign that occur, usually at integration of solutions, since there are few mechanisms to avoid these test cycles.
Axiomatic Design processes provide designers with a synthesis environment that lets them try out aspects of the functional design and test the dependency interaction between the components of the solution without the typical design-build-test-redesign cycles.
Capturing Design Intent
The axiomatic process captures all of the incremental design decisions, including paths examined and not taken, in a non technical format. It is a vaccination against employee turnover and an invaluable record for future reference.
Assessing Design Risk
As part of the axiomatic design process, risk assessment is formalized at the concept generation phase. This provides the earliest possible risk mitigation practice, in order to minimize time-to-market.
Managing Impact Traceability
The axiomatic design process inherently documents full traceability of customer needs to constraints and requirements, to decomposition solution logic, into solution domain, and then into product structures and conceptual BOMs. This enables analysis of the impact of changes in requirements as these changes ripple through the functional design model.
Questions and answers
Why aren't current CAD tools a solution to these problems?
CAD tools actually contribute to the problem of poor conceptual design. In today's CAE and CAD-centric environments, designers jump to committing their first pass approaches to CAD. This design and documentation development time is substantial as CAD systems demand a wealth of detail to represent designs. This results in delays before CAD documentation can be assessed in a collaborative development environment. Building CAD in the initial design process means that key aspects of product or system design quality such as performance, cost, completeness, risk, robustness or safety can't be structured and independently assessed until CAD documentation release. As such, even when quality or cost issues are now found, it is too late and the cost in time and budget of repeating a CAD design cycle is so high that design teams resort to 'patching' rather than properly re-iterating the design.
We implement a gate review process for design. What's wrong with this?
Gate reviews are an inspection tool to be applied in reviewing work done. Quality is not 'Inspected' into a design process.
Is there any reason to wait to implement axiomatic design processes and Acclaro DFSS software solutions?
1. Minimal learning curve
2. Solutions designed to provide value with a single user, a workgroup, or an enterprise.
3. Immediate applicability
How do companies manage the quality of the conceptual design architecture and the proposed solutions in early stage product development?
Usually companies have no processes for this most important point. Instead, they depend upon their design staff to self govern their design synthesis processes, usually on a person by person level.
What should companies have for a process for requirements capture and analysis?
Most companies have a marketing document that is reputed to be the requirements document. However, this is an incredibly dangerous practice. Most marketing specs are merely the wishes of the marketing department, only one of the customers of most design and development organizations. Design teams need to document and manage their own functional requirements document that represents the current design response to ALL of the potential customers of the design process. Axiomatic Design formalizes this process.
What Key Performance Indicators (KPI) do companies use to manage the design synthesis process?
Most companies have no measurement techniques. The common misconception is that this is a creative process which defies measurement. Project managers run around and ask engineers how close they are to meeting some arbitrary milestone, such as a documentation release date. Applying the axiomatic design process enables a continuous measurable design process.