Characterizing design process interfaces as organization networks: insights for engineering systems management

Pedro Parraguez, Steven Eppinger, Anja Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The engineering design literature has provided guidance on how to identify and analyze design activities and their information dependencies. However, a systematic characterization of process interfaces between engineering design activities is missing, and the impact of structural and compositional aspects of interfaces on process performance is unclear. To fill these gaps, we propose a new approach that characterizes process interfaces as organization networks consisting of people and their interactions when performing interfacing activities. Furthermore, we provide guidance on how to test and interpret the effect of those characteristics on interface problems. As a result, we show how structural and compositional aspects of the organization networks between information-dependent activities provide valuable insights to better manage complex engineering design processes. The proposed approach is applied to the development of a power plant, analyzing 79 process interfaces. The study reveals a relationship between the structure and composition of the process interfaces and reported interface problems. Implications of this approach include the integration of information about process and organization architectures, the systematic identification of key performance metrics associated with interface problems, and improved support for engineering managers by means of a better overview of information flows between activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-173
Number of pages16
JournalSystems Engineering
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • process interface
  • interface management
  • design process
  • project management
  • engineering systems

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