Making mistake late in the design process is costly

You are working on a technically complex project

Let’s take the example of a piece of machinery. A machine designed for an industrial client.

That machine costs tens of thousands of dollars. You cannot make a prototype, you’ll only fabricate the One.

You have a long list of requirements, between CE Directives, performance requirements, functional requirements and other regulations that may apply.

You cannot iterate with an agile approach

Lean development concepts are good if your product is not complex and you can iterate very fast with it.

If your product is technically complex to design, the lean concept only applies to some extent.

If you start the design of the machine, you realize that you missed an important requirement, you may have to restart the drawings from scratch.

If the development time is long, you cannot afford to iterate 10 times and restarting from scratch every time.

Stick to a more classical design approach

To make sure you do not miss a critical point on the design journey, you need to follow the following steps religiously:

  • Create a robust list of requirements, including internal/external, legal, performance, functional requirements
  • Validate that list
  • Start elaborating a list of solutions for each functionality of the product. In this phase, you don’t want to limit yourself.
  • For each solution, create a description of it, check the impact it has on the rest of the design, the pros and cons of the solution
  • You want to stress test every solution and make sure it is compliant with the list of requirements. If a solution is not compliant, iterate or trash it
  • Validate the list of selected solutions
  • Integrate the solutions and identify problems,
  • Validate the integrated solutions against the list of requirements
  • Once you have the validated solutions, that you checked that they are compliant to the list of requirements, you can start implementing them
  • Create the drawings of the system
  • Verify that every feature has been implemented following the requirements of the validated solutions

By now, you should have:

  • A robust list of requirements that is not forgetting critical points
  • A list of validated solutions that are compliant to the list of requirements
  • Drawings that are verified as compliant to the above

From there, you need to validate the cost, planning of fabrication, iterate for detailed design and you should be good to get approval from the client.

If you have the approval or you don’t need it, you may proceed with the execution of the fabrication.

That design approach is closer to theV cycle.

The pitfall to avoid is to miss or fail to execute one step

Should you decide to shortcut some steps in the validation process, you are taking the risk to

  • Miss important requirements
  • Forget to include important requirements in the solutions proposed
  • Validate non-compliant solutions
  • Fail to integrate validated solutions

When this happens, you are to restart the process from the step where the mistake occurred. And that hurts. It is costly, time-consuming, and the morale of the team takes a bit toll.

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