If you’re starting a new project to build a complex piece of hardware, you might be looking for a more ‘agile’ way of doing things. Typical questions we hear all the time include:
- How do we make sure that different disciplines are aware of each other’s assumptions and that they efficiently exchange the latest results while avoiding continuous iteration loops?
- It seems we have tools to do many things, but in the end we’re all copy pasting values into spreadsheets and emailing them to each other. Is there another solution?
- Can we reduce the amount of time it takes to generate and update the necessary documentation after making changes to the design?
- Are we sure that with the design on the table we’re going to achieve all that’s required?
- How do I track the real status of the ongoing activities without asking people to update a myriad of tracking files all the time?
A lot of these problems are consequences of the way communication is typically done, for example via email and occasional meetings. With the right tools, many of these issues can be solved. And the start of a new project is a great place to set off on the right foot, with the right (communication) tools for the job.
One of the most important ways to streamline the engineering process is a data repository tool, a “single source of truth” where all latest design data and decisions are stored, linked to requirements and key performance indicators, tracked, summarized and documented. The following flow chart shows some possible ways to get started with such a single source of truth.
The analysis and breakdown of requirements is a natural starting point for projects that are based on a set of requirements coming from a customer. Other projects don’t necessarily have clear requirements besides a goal of reaching the best possible performance. However also for those projects, starting off with a single place to keep track of design data and decisions provides a speed boost to the initial design phases, for example while trading off concepts, iterating on initial calculations or going through questions and comments.
As the project progresses, a single source of truth avoids exchanging detailed numbers in too-long meetings over and over again. Discussions, reviews and decisions are stored with the data, providing traceability from the beginning of the project all the way until the end. Inputs and outputs to design and analysis tools are automated, making sure that everyone is working with the latest information. The design becomes progressively more detailed while you keep a clear view of the overall performance of the design, and how well it meets the requirements. The right people are notified whenever important changes are made. Data summaries such as graphs, budgets and trends are automatically generated and always up to date.
If you’re interested in making your new projects more agile with a single source of truth, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive more information or to set up a meeting.