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Managing Iterations in Product Design and Development

Authors: K. Aravindhan, Trishit Bandyopadhyay, Mahesh Mehendale, Supriya Kumar De


The inherent iterative nature of product design and development poses significant challenge to reduce the product design and development time (PD). In order to shorten the time to market, organizations have adopted concurrent development where multiple specialized tasks and design activities are carried out in parallel. Iterative nature of work coupled with the overlap of activities can result in unpredictable time to completion and significant rework. Many of the products have missed the time to market window due to unanticipated or rather unplanned iteration and rework. The iterative and often overlapped processes introduce greater amounts of ambiguity in design and development, where the traditional methods and tools of project management provide less value. In this context, identifying critical metrics to understand the iteration probability is an open research area where significant contribution can be made given that iteration has been the key driver of cost and schedule risk in PD projects. Two important questions that the proposed study attempts to address are: Can we predict and identify the number of iterations in a product development flow? Can we provide managerial insights for a better control over iteration? The proposal introduces the concept of decision points and using this concept intends to develop metrics that can provide managerial insights into iteration predictability. By characterizing the product development flow as a network of decision points, the proposed research intends to delve further into iteration probability and attempts to provide more clarity.

Keywords: Product Design, rework, iteration, Decision Points

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