A communication audit for engineering design: 5th Integrated Product Development Workshop (IPD 2004)

Anja M. Maier, Claudia M. Eckert, P John Clarkson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper contends that many problems in engineering design are the result of poor communication and that at the same time poor communication can be an indication of other problems. This statement stems from an extensive literature search and is grounded in empirical evidence. The authors argue that a careful assessment is needed to separate out whether communication is the cause of a problem, the problem itself or symptomatic of a problem in the engineering design process.In order to distinguish between symptoms, problems and their root causes, a communication audit is necessary. At its most basic, an audit is an evaluation of a designated process [Hargie & Tourish, 2000a]. The practice of auditing is most commonly associated with assessing an organisation’s financial health. Its use has since been applied for example to business, human resources, organisational communication and education [Odiorne, 1954; Goldhaber, 1983; Emanuel, 1985; Booth, 1986; Hargie & Tourish, 2000b]. An audit is a means to analyse, measure and assess communication practices. The audit tool under development is essentially a set of methods, a toolbox, with which design managers can systematically analyse the state of communication in their company.Before the appropriate methods are chosen, a conceptual framework has to be created with which factors influencing communication and their interrelationships can be understood. This paper focuses on the key aspects which have to be considered in constructing a conceptual framework for a communication audit. Based on this framework, an audit tool will be constructed. By developing a communication audit for design the researcher aims to improve the effectiveness of engineering design communication by deepening the understanding of the complex processes underlying communication. Effectiveness is defined as the mutual fit of communication requirements and capabilities.The remainder of this paper is structured into five parts. Section two outlines the problem situation. Section three justifies why a communication audit for engineering design is necessary. Section four sketches the envisaged end product/service. Finally, section five discusses key aspects which need to be considered in constructing an audit.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2004
Event5th Integrated Product Development Workshop (IPD 2004) - Magdeburg, Germany
Duration: 23 Sept 200424 Sept 2004


Workshop5th Integrated Product Development Workshop (IPD 2004)
Abbreviated titleIPD 2004


  • design management
  • complexity
  • communication audit
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • new product development
  • engineering design


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