Requirements Management in Theory and Practice – From Requirements Formulation to Product Concept
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, product concepts and systems are often assemblies of traditional components. This means that there is an evident potential in moving the central point of the development process towards early phases, to focus on concept and system design, and thus bring about more efficient product integration.
Furthermore, it is essential for a car manufacturer, or other industrial companies dealing with complex products, to have the ability to develop products in which a large number of product features and properties have to be incorporated. Besides, competition will continually force companies to reduce development and product costs while the product value as seen by the customer has to increase. Furthermore, in a marketplace which is flooded with similar products, innovation and product renewal are of vital importance for securing the long-term survival of the operations. In this complex development context, and with this competitive market situation, it is more important than ever to support the development of attractive and innovative products, while adequately considering relevant requirements in a cost-efficient way.
Reflecting these opportunities, which can be seen as strategic, there is an increased need for knowledge on concept development and requirements management, as well as an increased interest in using structured work procedures, such as systematic design methods presented in academia. However, although the industrial needs and the application potential are evident, few methods and tools presented in academia have been widely adopted in industry. Thus, it is highly relevant to possess knowledge of how to apply new methods and tools, as well as knowing about potential effects. It also desirable to develop methods and tools that are more considerate of industrial needs.
In line with the scope presented and a multidisciplinary research approach used, the knowledge that emerged in this research project extends from descriptive to prescriptive, and from contextual to general. More specifically, the project contributes a deeper understanding of practical product development with a focus on system design and requirements management, as well as design methodology and support tools to design multi-technology products, including experiences from their application in industrial, cross-functional teams. Furthermore, recommendations and guidelines are formulated, including improvement proposals to suit the needs of the automotive industry or other industrial sectors dealing with complex products. Specific phenomena identified might, in addition, point out directions for future product development research and theory development.
The conclusions drawn indicate that the research matter is not just a choice of black or white. The general conclusion is that structured approaches, including systematic design methodology and related computer-based tools, essentially support concept development and requirements management, but always have to be applied in a flexible way and be adapted to the situation at hand. In addition, the risk of formalistic influences has to be attended to, for the benefit of fruitful co-operative development.
Keywords: Automotive industry, concept development, requirements management, design methodology, product modelling, teamwork, distributed product development.