Evaluating product development systems using network analysis



This paper proposes the integration of two systems engineering analysis tools, the Design Structure Matrix (DSM) and Network Analysis (NA), to study task interactions in a Product Development Process (PDP). The DSM is a matrix-based systems engineering tool that analyzes task sequences to improve PDP execution. Using NA metrics to measure properties of information flow helps to identify important product development tasks and interactions that constrain PDP execution. Project managers can use these data to structure team integration mechanisms or to identify coordinating mechanisms for groups of concurrently scheduled PDP tasks. Functional managers and process architects can use these data to identify important or overloaded tasks. They can also evaluate whether tasks like stage gates and design reviews are acting as effective information flow regulators in the PDP. This new Systems Engineering approach provides a rigorous decision support tool for managers who must alter ideal task sequences due to specific schedule, budget, and expertise constraints encountered on their projects. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Syst Eng