Survey on Product Development Methods, Design Competencies, and Communication in Swedish Industry
Paper in proceedings, 2002
This article presents the results of a questionnaire survey carried out during the spring of 2000. The results are based on the answers provided by a total of 99 respondents. Among other results the survey revealed that more than half of the responding companies have a formally documented strategy for product development work. Regarding disciplinary competencies, it is shown that design engineers are involved in practically all product development projects. Industrial designers are also widely employed, while ergonomics competence is used in less than half of the projects. Design engineering is the most widely employed competence in product development work for all investigated product development tasks, except for ergonomics and aesthetic design tasks. The latter are most commonly carried out by ergonomists and industrial designers, respectively. Most small companies experience good contact with end users, whereas larger companies appear less successful in that respect. The same result applies to perceived communication with other professional categories, as well as access to information. Most of the respondents including project managers, design engineers and development managers answered they have daily contact with design engineers. Among the same respondents, daily contact with industrial designers and ergonomists is very infrequent. Regarding opinions on the product development process, nearly half of the respondents stated they frequently discuss the use of methods and procedures. One third of the respondents agreed that a better-formulated process description than the currently used would facilitate product development work. It was also concluded that nearly one third of the respondents agreed on having difficulties reflecting upon ongoing work, due to, e.g., lack of time.