RHEA’s experts have been using concurrent design for nearly two decades to accelerate the early phases of complex engineering projects such as space programmes, defence systems, factory design and luxury yachts. Now, in this blog series, they share 10 key factors that contribute to the success of the approach.
By Gwendolyn Kolfschoten, Concurrent Design Expert
One of the objectives of concurrent design is to speed up the process of the early phases of multidisciplinary projects, not just in lead time, but also by saving overall work-hours.
A number of factors combine to enable this gain in efficiency:
- During the sessions, team members work in parallel on the solutions – this way, participants can work on different aspects of the problem at the same time.
- Concurrent design focuses on identifying key challenges and trade-offs early in the design, and solving them in an integrated manner by involving all relevant experts.
- The use of structure and focus in the process is important. Though guidance and an integrated design model, the team works in a much more phased and structured manner.
- Rigorous documentation and management of actions is crucial. Open actions are assigned to key experts to research and are put on the agenda for the following week, so that problems can be resolved quickly and rigorously.
- Finally, participants should be able to use their time effectively during concurrent design studies. The facility should be set up to enable participants to work on their own tasks when the discussion is not related to their domain of expertise.
Organize sessions and prepare participants in advance
To boost efficiency, it is important that sessions are well prepared, so the team can make optimal use of their time together. For this reason, the concurrent design methodology prescribes a highly disciplined approach to the preparation of sessions:
- Each session should have an agenda, with timeslots assigned for each topic.
- The stakeholders who are invited for the study are given a short training session to prepare them and also called in advance to ensure they are well aware of their role and their tasks in the study.
- Key experts are invited to prepare presentations and share these with the support team in advance. The support team should check the presentations for completeness and rigour to make sure there is enough detail for a fruitful discussion.
Follow up assigned tasks
The support team needs to keep track of all tasks assigned to the team members. These are listed and the team members are reminded each week of open tasks and things that still have to be analyzed. In this way, every team member is held responsible for their tasks and is aware that others are waiting for their results to enable the next iteration, based on the new data and information.
Together, all of these points ensure progress will be made in an efficient manner.
- Prepare rigorously – collaborative effort is expensive.
- Create a detailed agenda for each session and send it to participants in advance.
- Keep track of assigned tasks to make sure they are executed on time.