The many views of a process: Toward a process architecture framework for product development processes



A product or system development process is a kind of complex system, arguably even more complex than the system it produces. Yet, the models and tools used by systems engineers and program managers to plan and manage technical work—such as process flowcharts, Gantt charts, work breakdown structures, and text-rendered procedures—are less sophisticated and capable than the ones used to design the product system. When used, the various process models are often challenged to incorporate and maintain synchronized program information—e.g., they may be created by different subgroups in a program and based on different assumptions, and they may diverge as a program proceeds. Recently, architecture frameworks (AFs) have been used to help manage the complexity in engineered systems. An AF provides a portfolio of views of a complex system, each of which describes it partially and in a format meaningful to its users and their particular needs. This paper proposes the application of AF concepts to the management of the work done to develop a complex system product. The pieces of work and their relationships constitute a complex process. A portfolio of integrated and synchronized views of a single process model would seem to be preferable to the current state—a number of disparate and uncoordinated management models. This paper introduces a new application of AFs to development processes and suggests this area as one for further research and development in the systems engineering community. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Syst Eng