Requirements-Driven Product Innovation - Methods and Tools Reflecting Industrial Needs
Doctoral thesis, 2005
Product development in the automotive industry is typically characterised by cross-functional teamwork. At the same time, the organisation and development culture are in many ways component-oriented and indeed, highly advanced from the point of view of component development. As a result, most components themselves are relatively mature. However, there is more room for change and thus improvement when it comes to product integration. There is also potential in moving the central point of the development process towards early phases, to focus on concept and system design. Furthermore, it is essential for a car manufacturer, among others, to have the ability to develop products in which a large number of features and properties have to be incorporated. Besides, competition will continually force companies to reduce costs while the product value as seen by the customer has to increase. In addition, in a market which is flooded with similar products, innovation and renewal are vital importance for securing the long-term survival of the operations.
Considering these opportunities, which can be seen as strategic, there is an increased need for knowledge on structured work procedures for concept development and requirements management, including potential effects in use. It is also desirable to develop approaches that are more considerate of industrial needs. In line with the scope presented and a problem-oriented, multidisciplinary research approach used, the knowledge that emerged from this research extends from descriptive to prescriptive:
Experiences about product development and requirements management in current industrial practice, as well as recommendations reflecting insights.
A product modelling concept supporting systematic design in general and requirements traceability in particular.
A systematic method for balancing properties while synthesising a product concept. The balancing philosophy adopted is to meet the overall products desired performance profile as efficiently as possible, by selecting and integrating sub-solutions that harmonise; meaning synergies.
A reason-based approach for an innovation-oriented requirements and/or design review. This approach reflects the intention to facilitate further requirement and solution reflection and development, rather than just assessing the status in relation to a predefined criteria set-up.
Experiences about method and tool applicability in cross-functional teams.
The conclusions drawn indicate that the research matter is not just black or white: Structured approaches, including systematic design methodology and related computer-based tools, essentially support concept development and requirements management, but they always have to be applied in a flexible way and be adapted to the situation at hand. Specifically, the risk of formalistic influences has to be attended to, for the benefit of fruitful co-operative development work. Moreover, a requirements-driven process has evident benefits in communicating a common target in a complex context, keeping the main theme throughout the project, and inherently to highlight purpose in design. However, this puts demands on the requirements management itself: To formulate requirements truly driving value, and to allow that requirements are active and evolving objects that continuously capture knowledge gained. This is particularly important with innovation in mind.