The traditional development method can be improved with use a collaborative multi-disciplinary team in the concurrent engineering method.
What is Concurrent Engineering?
Concurrent engineering is a management technique used to increase the efficiency of the design/manufacture process of a product.
The traditional development process is completed in stages. First, the design stage is carried out entirely by one department. The detailed design is then passed onto a manufacture department, who will often have to implement changes which will then have to be approved by the design department, before manufacture can be completed. Any further changes needed after the initial prototype of the product is created will be dealt with by a marketing department, but will then have to go through the entire design process again. This back and forth can cause major delays to the release of a product, and can result in a more expensive, i.e. less competitive, product.
Concurrent engineering makes use of a multi-disciplinary team of designers, manufacturers, marketers and members of other relevant departments. This team collaborates to design a product that is ready for manufacture and distribution, with any necessary trade-offs and changes identified and implemented at an early stage. The use of a broad range of inputs can result in products of a much higher quality, and the improved communication between departments results in reductions in project time and, consequentially, cost. Also, this process can significantly decrease the number of changes required to the product after release, which improves the customer experience.
One of the main barriers to this form of development is the difficulty in promoting collaboration and communication between teams. This will often require an entire overhaul of a company structure and ethos – breaking down hierarchical systems and encouraging teamwork. This process can take time to implement, but the results are shown to be worth the endeavour.