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DISTRUBUTED ENGINEERING. ORGANIZATIONAL, MANAGERIAL AND ENGINEERING DESIGN ISSUES DIANA CHRONEÉR SVEN ÅKE HÖRTE AR 98:25
Department of Business Administration and Social Sciences Division of Industrial Organization
PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This report is based on a literature survey on “distributed engineering”. Using computer based search techniques resulted in a rather large number of papers and books related to this topic. These papers and books, many of them listed in the references, are presented and discussed in the report. Diana Chroneér has done the main bulk of work to make this report possible. She conducted the survey and she summarized the literature found during the survey. This project was kindly financed by the Swedish Transport & Communication Research Board.
Sven Åke Hörte Project leader
It is possible to downloaded this report from http://www.ies.luth.se/depts/indorg/rapport.html
CONTENTS CONTENTS .............................................................................................................................................. 1 1. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................ 3 1.1. TRADITIONAL VERSUS DISTRIBUTED ENGINEERING ............................................................................. 3 1.1.1. Engineering and its role in the PD process ................................................................................ 3 1.1.2. The Core of Change .................................................................................................................. 4 1.2. NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT .......................................................................................................... 5 1.2.1. Concurrent Engineering and Concurrent Design ....................................................................... 5 2. ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGERIAL ISSUES......................................................................... 7 2.1.MANAGING IT PROJECTS .................................................................................................................. 10 2.2. PRINCIPLES OF THE 21ST CENTURY ................................................................................................... 11 2.2.1. The role of IT in organization design ........................................................................................13 2.2.2. IT – Efficiency and Effectiveness?.............................................................................................14 2.3. DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP .............................................................................................................. 15 2.3.1. How should leadership be exercised in leaderless settings?........................................................15 2.4. MANAGING INTEGRATED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT ......................................................................... 16 2.5. DISTRIBUTED SYSTEMS ................................................................................................................... 17 2.6. COMMUNICATION TOOLS AND COLLABORATIVE MEANS.................................................................... 17 2.6.1. High-Speed Broad Band...........................................................................................................19 2.6.2. Video Conferencing..................................................................................................................19 2.6.3. The Internet: The Source of Information ...................................................................................19 2.7. REQUIREMENTS FOR A COLLABORATIVE DESIGN ENVIRONMENT ....................................................... 20 2.8. PROBLEMS WHEN IMPLEMENTING NPD ........................................................................................... 22 3. ENGINEERING DESIGN ISSUES.................................................................................................... 24 3.1. ENGINEERING DESIGN WORK ........................................................................................................... 24 3.1.1. Design Activities ......................................................................................................................25 3.1.2. Information ..............................................................................................................................26 3.1.3. Engineering Change Due to IT .................................................................................................27 3.1.4. Information Technology Tools ...................................................................................................28 3.1.5. Virtual Teams...........................................................................................................................30 3.1.6. Tool Usage and Impacts ...........................................................................................................30 3.1.7. Measures .................................................................................................................................33 3.2. CHANGES OF ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS ................................................................................... 34 3.2.1. Virtual Environment (VE).........................................................................................................35 184.108.40.206. Physiological problems related to VR and VE ...................................................................................36
4. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................... 37
ABBREVIATIONS BISDN CAD CAE CAM CASE CCTT CE CIM CIT CPD DDP DFA DFM EDBMS EDI ESI FEA GUI ICT IE ISDN IS IT MPR NPD PD QFD SAPB SMT STEP TIPS TQM VE VR VT VWG
Broad band telecommunications Computer-Aided Design Computed-Aided Engineering Computer-Aided Manufacturing Computer-Aided Software/Systems Engineering Close Combat Tactical Trainer Concurrent Engineering Computer Integrated Manufacturing Computer and Information Technology Cooperative Product Development Distributed Data Processing Design For Assembly Design For Manufacturing Engineering Database Management Systems Electronic Data Interchange Early Simultaneous Influence Finite Element Analysis Graphical User Interface Information and Communication Technologies Industrial Engineers Integrated Services Digital Network Information Systems Information Technologies Material Requirements Planning New Product Development Product Development Quality Function Deployment Systematic Approach of Pahl and Beitz Self-Managed Teams Standard for The Exchange of Product data Theory of Inventive Problem-Solving Total Quality Management Virtual Environment Virtual Reality Virtual Teams Virtual Work Group
1. INTRODUCTION Designing a product and launching it on the market is a key issue for most companies and developing new products is a complex process. The process from an idea to a finished product is often referred to as the product development process. This process consists of several functions in an organization and it is described in various ways in the literature (Trygg L., 1991, Allen D., 1993, and Smith et al., 1991). It can be described as follows. Traditionally, product development (PD) has been organized as a sequential process, sometimes called “over-the-wall-design”, i.e., the designers have completed detailed design for the product with little interaction with other departments in the company (manufacturing, marketing etc.). Among the problems with a sequential development process are that they can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if changes are needed towards the end of the project. These and other problems can be reduced if more work is carried out in an integrated and parallel way, a methodology usually referred to as Concurrent Engineering (CE). The focus of this report is the organizing of engineering work, the characteristics of distributed engineering design and how organizational design must change to support the change in engineering work. 1.1. TRADITIONAL VERSUS DISTRIBUTED ENGINEERING The way products are designed and the role of engineering in that process has during the last 10-15 years gone through a transformation. New organization principles and new powerful tools have been developed to enhance the development process. 1.1.1. Engineering and its role in the PD process Engineering can be described as the process that applies knowledge of physical laws to define a product, which can meet the need of a customer or consumer. Beyond relatively simple text communication, engineering conceptualization has led to the generation, transmission and analytical usage of massive data sets. The storage and retrieval of data is commonplace as well. Engineering must receive a greater quantity of information, order it, add substantially to it and distribute it to many interfaces for downstream use. The importance of communication linkages and data management techniques cannot be emphasized enough. About 10 years ago the advent of powerful graphics software and suitable hardware brought forth an opportunity to bring “information systems” to engineering. “Information systems” applied to engineering is the provider of change to the process of engineering. The old compartmentalization within an enterprise had designs created within Engineering, that released drawings to Manufacturing which made and shipped product to a customer, who was supported by the Service. Customer input on quality or failure, via Service, provided feedback to Engineering for subsequent design change. Donohue (1996) points out
that this simple loop works well in a stable market environment, but headed toward the 21st century we find that the combination of product complexity and rapidly changing customer needs forces a change in the paradigm. In a general sense, then, engineering’s role is to negotiate and accept product level requirements and characteristics, and define the product for manufacture and subsequent support. Its output is usually “drawings”, part lists, specifications and supporting data related to product performance and integrity. The term “drawings” encompasses parts and assemblies definition and may also be in digitized form. 1.1.2. The Core of Change In today’s computerized environment the engineering process starts with a perceived market need (supplied) and conceptual solutions (generated) with iteration loops until a reasonable concept or number of alternatives are defined. Refinement and improved definition of the potential product continues until performance, cost and business viability is established. Launching a program intensifies design and supporting technology development to complete product definition and initiate the detail design of piece parts and components. Prototype or development articles are often built and tested prior to manufacturing production articles. The above description of the engineering process downplays the absolutely necessary role of information system technology in accomplishing a major engineering task. Analytical evaluations of design concepts from product level down to piece part are indispensable. Donohue (1996) applies that a true information system environment has proved elusive for all the computerization and application of information systems technology broadly applied throughout engineering. However, the core of the change is the ability to create 3D descriptions of product and part designs essentially at the outset of an endeavor. This digital definition forms the base or reference for all work by various functional groups and specialists. The ability to access a current definition of geometry yields the opportunity for the concurrent development of hardware definition by all that have a stake in that definition. Retrieval and examination of archived data either from earlier phases of a program or from prior programs can greatly support an activity in product definition. The development of 3-D descriptions and their simultaneous availability not only within the engineering organization but also to manufacturing, service and other functions provides concurrence to the engineering process. The 3-D solid representation of the product or pieces of the product is often termed a master model. It forms the geometry reference for all peripheral work. It also provides an approach to describe and communicate “design intent” (the functionality characteristics required) far better than any prior mechanisms. The ability to visualize parts and even simple assemblies secured the introduction of digitized 3-D graphics to the engineering function (Donohue, 1996). As a more accurate definition within the digital model was achieved, a large number of applications appeared. Rapid prototyping of parts by computer-driven digital definition is common and enhances even further the visualization aspects of a design.
1.2. NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Pressures to achieve various goals like high quality products, wide variety and rapid New Product Development (NPD) have resulted in a number of alterations in the way enterprises are organized, and in particular in their engineering activities. Enterprises focus to an increasing extent on their core business and delegate manufacturing and design of parts and major subassemblies to suppliers and subcontractors (Court et al., 1997). The pressure of reducing product development time-scales has led to the traditional sequential designand manufacture process being superseded by a parallel activity in which many specialists perform their tasks. This has been commonly termed concurrent or simultaneous engineering. However, Court et al. (1997) argue that information is the foundation of the diversified, global marketplace, of concurrent engineering and of continuous improvement. They also point out that today is the traditional design and development of a product more focused upon the incremental improvement of previously established approaches and techniques. NPD entails that different phases of product development are performed, to some degree, parallel, and the coordination of activities and communication between locally and globally dispersed members has to be solved. Design work within NPD is an important issue. Österlund (1997) argues that close attention must be given to some of the process steps within NPD, if the design work is to be successful, namely the process of systems engineering/architecture, the task breakdown and the project structuring. He also argues that success of design work depends on the existence of a communication system that provides the right information in the right place at the right time. 1.2.1. Concurrent Engineering and Concurrent Design Concurrent engineering, often referred to when discussing NPD, is a systematic approach to the integrated, concurrent design of products and their related processes, including manufacture and support. Designers engaged in the PD-process need information from each other, and from other actors related to the process, to be able to make proper decisions when there is any conflict among their designs. To make concurrent design successful one needs an integrated framework, a well-organized design team, and adequate design tools. Eversheim et al. (1997) point out that usually departments act more or less independently, not knowing the demand and the capabilities of each other. General commercial information and communication systems only support a sequential workflow but no parallelism. They are designed to handle documents and exact information. Neither partial information (information units), nor the transmissions of uncertain, fuzzy and incomplete information are supported by these systems, even if this type of data contains important and valuable information for succeeding activities. Particularly in the early stage is uncertain and incomplete information typical for the product and process development. This information contains a lot of constraints and determines the main part of the development process (Eversheim et al. (1997). Organizational issues have been paid little attention compared to the development of tools involved in concurrent engineering (Jin and Levitt, 1995). They mean that research
on concurrent engineering has had a focus on developing design tools, product data models, and communication infrastructure. Some of the barriers to a successful implementation and utilization of concurrent engineering, they continue, are related to cultural, organizational and technological issues. So the following questions must be addressed to achieve successful concurrent engineering (Jin and Levitt, 1995). Finger et al. (1995) argue that concurrent engineering requires both technical and organizational solutions. They believe that the essence of concurrent design is the myriad of interactions, and they call the result “concurrent design”. According to them, the social process plays a major role in the articulation and realization of the product design, particularly in large projects. Finger et al. also mean that for the engineering research community, concurrent engineering means, for the most part, the use of computational techniques to build cooperating sets of tools from different areas of design and manufacturing using specialized representation and coordination mechanisms. These “technical aspects” encompass engineering and computational issues. For industry, they continue, concurrent engineering has been interpreted as the creation of cross-functional teams that include people responsible for all aspects of the product life cycle. These “organizational aspects” encompass managerial, communication and coordination aspects. They use the term concurrent design to include both the organizational and technical aspects. Concurrent design is therefore the link; i.e., concurrent design happens at the interfaces.
Technical Aspects (Engineering and computational issues)
Figure 1. Concurrent Design (according to Finger et al. (1995). There are however barriers to concurrent design. Some are highlighted by Finger et al. (1995). These include § communication problems, § translation difficulties, § multiple languages, § loss of design histories,
§ etc. Finger et al. points out that, unfortunately, solutions to these problems are being developed using traditional design and development approaches, i.e., out of the context of the work being supported. They mean that concurrent design depends strongly on context – that is, the links between participants, the processes being used, the artifact being developed – and, after all, consideration of all perspectives is the primary goal of concurrent design. An alternative way of looking at the situation is to recognize that there is no single correct way to do the linking in a concurrent design team across design contexts. • Task arrangement: How should tasks be arranged – more concurrently or more sequentially? What will be the consequence of introduction of more concurrency? Who should be responsible for which task? • Communication structure and policy: Who can talk to whom? Who should talk to whom about what? Should the team have formal meetings frequently? Should team members talk or meet informally whenever they need? • Control structure and policy: What kind of control structure should be implemented? Who should report to whom? • Technology or tools: What tools should be used for communication? Is it necessary to introduce new tools? How should actors choose their tools? • Effectiveness and efficiency: How do we measure project performances a whole? Some of these questions are discussed in the following sections. Section 2 is mainly focused on organization and management issues, while section 3 discusses engineering design issues. As the introduction demonstrates, the three areas of organization, engineering design work, and tools are to a high extent integrated in the PD-process. We have tried to take that into account in the discussions, and the matter is further discussed in the fourth, concluding, section of the report.
2. ORGANIZATIONAL AND MANAGERIAL ISSUES Despite the apparent importance of IT, Applegate (1994) points out that few comprehensive studies have been made of its role in enabling new organizational models or of the process by which IT-enabled organizational change in implemented. She presents some key findings regarding the nature of the organizational change initiatives and the role of information technology in enabling (or inhibiting) these changes. It is an exploration of the interplay among the environmental context, organization design, and information infrastructure. Applegate (1994) means that information technology has not only radically altered our view of interfirm boundaries, but also challenged our notion of boundaries within firms.
Figure 2. The interplay among environmental context, organizational design and information infrastructure. Gunson and Boddy (1989) report that the introduction of computer networks can facilitate the imposition of a unified structure on any large organization formed from a number of smaller ones. They mean that one of the potential benefits of the introduction of computer network systems is that it can encourage organizations to adopt more streamlined organizational structures. From the evidence offered by them, it seemed that the introduction of computer networks had been designed to conform to the existing work patterns, rather than used to design a new and more efficient one. According to Gunson and Boddy (1989) there were clear indications within the sampled organizations that networks being used in two ways. First, they were used to allow more low level, operational local autonomy to the outlying parts of the organization. Second, the systems were used to impose central control on information, particularly financial information. Gunson and Boddy (1989) also point out some managerial problems of network systems. They found that the organizations, which made the most successful strategic use of networks systems, were those which had both the sponsorship of the chief executive and an Information Systems (IS) department which was integrated into the strategic planning processes of the organization. There have been many attempts, according to Gunson and Boddy (1989), to promote increased user participation in system design with the aim of producing optimal socio-technical systems rather than optimal technical systems, but with limited success. Gunson and Boddy (1989) report that another problem, that is characteristics of computer network systems, is the need to plan strategically and design centrally so that they are compatible with, and can link to, various external systems, both now and in the future. They emphasize the importance of external linkage between systems leads too more centralized decision-making about projects within large organizations. They mean that only the strategic planners have the necessary information to choose systems, which are compatible with important external links. Gunson and Boddy refer to Rockart and Short (1989), who identified four types of organizational changes resulting from the introduction of computers.
1. 2. 3.
It changes many facets of the organization’s internal structure, like roles, power and hierarchy. There is the emergence of ‘team-based’ problem-focused work groups supported by electronic communication. Organizations are ‘disintegrating’ as their boundaries are broached by the steadily decreasing costs of interconnection between customers, suppliers and companies. Technology is leading to ‘systems integration’within the organization.
They describe a fifth type of organizational change resulting from the newer computing technologies, particular network technologies. They describe this as organizational ‘interdependence’ and predicted that managing the interdependence of all the sub-units within the organization would be an important challenge for the future. Other authors as Hameri and Nihtilä (1997) argue that one should remember that much of the information transfer in distributed NPD projects is still conducted through media other than information networks and that activity on the networked IT applications gives us a partial picture. Bearing these limitations in mind, the tracking of electronic communication may provide managers who know the situational factors and expected electronic communication patterns with complementary tools for project and NPD process management. Applegate (1994) points out that if the full potential of information infrastructure is fully realized, it serves an important role in expanding information processing capacity to meet the increased information processing demand. Another important role of the information infrastructure, which she found, concerned its ability to reflect and augment complex, interlocking decision authority structures. In traditional hierarchical organizations, managers automatically inherited responsibility and accountability for decisions made by subordinates. Organizational design challenge has traditionally been conceptualized as a tradeoff between centralization (control) and decentralization (autonomy). More recently, it has been noted that in environments that is dynamic, complex and uncertain, collaboration become a third critical organization design criteria. The organization changes suggest, according to Applegate (1994), the emergence of a new “information enabled” hybrid organizational model that “marries” features of other organizational forms, e.g., hierarchy, entrepreneurial form, matrix. De Graaf and Kornelius (1996) suggest that if the organizational structure does not support CE, the communication within the company and with customers is slow. They mean that proper use of information technology is a key issue when actors like customer and supplier form a virtual company. They state that concurrent execution of engineering and production activities requires intensive cooperation between the supplier and its customer, and a focus on end-user satisfaction requires the cooperation between the customer and its entire supplier network. Not only customer and supplier should communicate and cooperate. Miscellaneous suppliers contributing to the same end-user order will also need interaction for product and process adjustments. To be ready for Inter-Organizational Concurrent Engineering, according to de Graaf and Kornelius (1996), the basic principles of CE must been adopted. Two of the eminent
prerequisites are therefore to form market oriented teams and to implement means for electronic communications with customers. Market teams result in less formal communication and provide a better concept of how the formal communication needs to be structured. Electronic communication provides consistent and up to date data related to products in development and orders. 2.1.MANAGING IT PROJECTS Gunson and Boddy (1989) state that the literature shows that most organizations do not give enough attention to five areas when managing computer projects. First, organizations do not give as much consideration to the social and political factors in the introduction and use of computer network systems, as they do to their technical and economic objectives. Second, they do not recognize that the processes of analysis, design and implementation of the systems are as important as the operational system. Third, they give little thought to the differing priorities of the interest groups within the organization. Fourth, they do not make enough provision for training and retraining staff. Fifth, they fail to recognize that evaluation of the system is of considerable importance if the organization is to learn anything from the mistakes and success experienced during its introduction. They mean that introducing networks has particular and distinctive problems for organizations as well as strategic opportunities. Neo (1994) gives an example of managing new information technologies. He describes how Singapore managed its decision to invest in electronic data interchange (EDI) technology. He discusses four major areas in the management of new information technologies. 1. 2. 3. 4.
The business problem that initiated a search for a technological solution. The decision on which technology to use. The delivery organizational structure. The selection of a vendor.
Neo highlights lessons relevant to managing new information technologies from each of these four areas. These show that • managers should not make a commitment to a specific technological platform too early in the process, • there is a vision that goes beyond the original business problem that triggered the consideration of new IT’s that the development of new technological solutions often require separate organizations cooperating in strategic partnerships, • the adoption of new information technologies should be accompanied by a planned marketing, publicity, and educational effort, • a new organizational entity may be needed to ensure sufficient attention to the diffusion of the adopted technology, and • a vendor should be selected to meet both the immediate and strategic goals for utilizing the new technology.
Neo (1994) shows how to manage key areas surrounding the investment in new IT. Such investment is often a major strategic move involving substantial capital expenditure and business risk. Strategic systems often go beyond the bounds of a single organization and require organizations to join hands in strategic partnerships, in development and implementation. There is a need for a strategic vision to drive the search for solutions and to avoid a premature commitment to any particular technological platform. 2.2. PRINCIPLES OF THE 21ST CENTURY Lipnack and Stamps (1996) suggest that success in the 21st century require both global knowledge and local knowledge, i.e., understanding the “big picture” and the specific details. It also requires people to be competitive and cooperative, simultaneously selfassertive individually and interdependently joined with others. They mean that now we have networks, groups of people working across boundaries of all kinds as knowledge replaces resources as the new source of wealth. Most organizations are operating in the Age of the Networks, Lipnack and Stamps argue, whether they know it, like it, or want it. One obvious indicator is the proliferation of connections with other organizations. In networks, people work closely with clients, customers, vendors, suppliers, and even competitors. Lipnack and Stamps (1996) see five key organizing principles for the 21st century. 1. 2.
3. 4. 5.
Unifying purpose – common views, value, and goals, a shared focuses. Independent members – each member of the network (whether a person, company, or country) can stand on its own while benefiting from being part of the whole. Voluntary links Multiple leaders – fewer bosses, more leaders, with more than one leader, the network as a whole has great resilience. Integrated levels – networks involve both hierarchy and the “lowerarchy”, which leads them to action rather than simply to making recommendations to others.
There are two kinds of networks that have to be integrated, according to Lipnack and Stamps (1996), the so called social-technical networks – the conjunction of people and technology and the power it releases. One network is from a technology perspective, that the process manufacturing requires more organic management than discrete manufacturing. The technology network that supports the people network. Those who regard the technology alone as the network miss the point. Lipnack and Stamp (1996) state that networking means people connecting people, which happens whether they are sitting around a conference table, pressing their ear to the phone, staring at a computer, or standing by the fax machine. They argue that knowing people in any network is critical. Because it is a dynamic rather than a static organization, a network needs someone to coordinate the flow of people. The results of Dawson (1996) illustrate the problems when the implementation of new technology does support the social network. He points out that a failure to integrate
the human aspects of change with the technical requirements may lead to a misalignment between new methods of work organization and the shop-floor operating culture. He distils five key lessons from these experiences of industrial collaboration. 1. The design of appropriate technology is more effective when the technical and organizational issues are developed and implemented together. 2. Account should be taken of the number of geographical locations, size and complexity of proposed projects as these dimensions can constrain collaboration. 3. It is important to maintain continuity of leadership and personnel. 4. Funding arrangement should be clarified from the outset and short-term budget justifications minimized. 5. Owing to the political character of industrial collaborations a continual effort is required to sustain complementary agendas and avoid conflict and division. Holti (1996) studied corporate changes, which involve information and communication technology. He argues that popular books on the new approaches to managing and organizing have for many years painted a rosy picture of the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the “post-industrial” organization. These technologies apparently allow more present work, much greater lateral contact and information sharing between employees, with less direct hierarchical control and even a loosening of the boundaries of organizations, as more and more people are able to work from home through teleworking. Holti (1996) means that whether they are primarily helping organizations on the technical or organizational side, people in organizations need to be aware of the importance of understanding relationships and interdependencies between different spheres of change. Integrated change is about understanding differences between perspectives and bodies of knowledge rather than assuming that differences can be displaced. Inter-related organizational development initiatives cannot be planned out in great detail in advance, as is the ideal in engineering project management. A basic planning model of one large cycle of study, design, planning and implementation is unlikely to succeed. The most basic reason for this is the essentially unpredictable way that human beings change as individuals and as collectivities. Change in technical arrangements can be designed and implemented in a relatively predictable manner – by designing and then building machinery, or designing and writhing computer software, for example. Once a new physical arrangement or computer program has been constructed, putting it into action is usually straightforward. Human behavior is shaped by vast variety of influences, conscious and unconscious. Holti (1996) suggests that much recent social science has focused on the influence of underlying assumptions, often referred to as organizational culture, that guide and shape how people behave within work organizations. Today, in transition, we naturally live with all types of organization (Lipnack and Stamps, 1996). They mean that hierarchy, the top-down pyramid, has been pronounced dead, yet lives and, in most circumstances, still holds final rule. Even as virtually everyone
vigorously complains about it and finds ways to skirt it, bureaucracy, with its neatly stacked, specialized boxes, continues to spew out more policies and procedures, rules and regulations. Small groups and teams are in – from the shop floor and front desk to the executive suit and boardroom, and at the same time, new networks are forming, both within and among older organizational forms. It has been shown that the management of change is likely to depend not only on technology but also on the way in which organizations, political and occupational groups, managers, academic researchers, system designers, and individual employees, respond to and participate in the process of innovation and change. In the 1990s, far more attention is being given to the design process and the importance of developing human-oriented manufacturing systems and of integrating technology, organization and people, according to Dawson (1996). 2.2.1.The role of IT in organization design Travica (1995) has conducted a study of the role of information-communication technology in a new organizational design. He proposes that the relationship between information-communication technology (ICT) and new organizational designs, e.g. net-work organizations, has attracted significant attention of researchers in recent years. Information-communication technology, such as electronic mail (e-mail), electronic bulletin boards, and groupware, have been studied from the point of their impacts on various organizational dimensions and new organizational designs. ENVIRONMENT
STRUCTURE: Hierarchy Centralization Formalization
CULTURE: Knowledge giving Knowledge getting Trust sharing Accountability sharing Outbound communication Role ambiguity
Figure 3. Frame of reference (see Travica, 1995) Travica undertook an exploratory study into the relationship between ICT and a new organizational design, e.g. the link between ICT and decentralization at the operational level.. This was done in order to improve our understanding of the link between ICT and new designs. The finding of his study suggests that ICT enables the non-traditional or-
ganization to a significant extent, but the study did not confirm the negative relationship between ICT and hierarchy. Isaacs and Tang (1996) have laid out a framework for building a successful technology transfer relationship. The framework involved five sequential steps. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
A mutual shared and developed vision of what-could be. Trust established and maintained. Distinctive and complementary competence Willingness to share needed knowledge Mutual benefit maintained over time.
They point out that designers and other actors should build bridges to other groups. This means that designers for examples should have lunch with members of other groups, sponsor and attend talks and discussions, give demos, include others in meetings. 2.2.2. IT – Efficiency and Effectiveness? Docherty and Stymne (1993) are convinced that IT is a means for achieving higher degrees of efficiency and effectiveness. However, these effects are hard both to achieve and to measure. The core of their argument is that one cannot expect a clear and direct link between IT-investments and productivity. The reason is that the effects of IT are mediated and depend on other factors. They point out that information technology requires new skills and capabilities from the personnel in order to function well. Workers who have hitherto been using a machine for shaping material will now have to take decisions not based on how the material looks and feels but on an understanding of an abstract process. Docherty and Stymne (1993) mean that the effects of information technology are mediated also by the organization of work. Investment in Integrated Data Processing
Traditional organizational and power structure
Mismatch resulting in serious problems
Power struggle and change process
New rational structure matching the potential of the new technology
Increased productivity and capacity for continuous reimprovement
Figure 4. Developments in the insurance company (Docherty and Stymne, 1993)
If the organization structure is not changed, they argue, the use of IT can be rather pointless. Their findings from the insurance industry points to the linkages between technological, organizational and productivity changes. 2.3. DISTRIBUTED LEADERSHIP Acording to Barry (1991), there are several basic forces that will continue to make teams an increasingly popular organizational device in the 1990s. He means that one argument for this is that one driver is the technological information expansion. The rapid growth of technologically based information has resulted in unique numbers of highly educated, self-motivated, self-directed specialists. Another force, he argues, is the increased use of extremely expensive equipment and technology in all industries, ranging from laser-based cutting systems in heavily manufacturing settings, to high-priced delivery and information systems in the service sector. Lastly, Barry points out that many companies, faced with growing levels of both domestic and global competition, are turning to SMTs (Self-managed teams) as a means of reducing middle management costs and fostering more rapid product innovation. 2.3.1.How should leadership be exercised in leaderless settings? Barry (1991) means that distributed leadership requires that attention be given not only to the type of leader behavior required at a given time but also to the interrelatedness and availability of leader behaviors. As an example he gives that Self-Managed Teams (SMTs) frequently need social leadership early in their lives, especially in the area of conflict management. If no team members possess training in this area, several members having good networking skills might work together to fill this need, as skills needed to network frequently facilitate development of social abilities. This means networking that requires the ability to quickly size up others and to find a way to communicate with them. According to Barry (1991), the distributed leadership model is applied to three generic classes of SMTs: project teams, problem solving teams, and policy-making teams. He argues that the leadership roles and behaviors required for proper SMT functioning fall into four broad clusters. 1. 2. 3. 4.
Envisioning, i.e., revolves around creating new and compelling visions. Organizing, i.e., this role brings order to the many disparate elements that exists within the group’s tasks. Spanning, i.e., involves facilitating the activities needed to bridge and link the SMT’s efforts with outside groups and individuals. Social, i.e., focuses on developing and maintaining the team from a sociopsychological position.
Buck (1995) brings up one key to effective team-based management. He means that it is for team members to take ownership of an area of responsibility and makes the neces-
sary decisions. But it does not just happen. Management must empower teams to act, rather than expecting them to seize authority. Management also must have faith that team members will make the best decisions they can, according to Buck (1995). The organization should consider providing teams with training in decision-making skills. He states that management needs to “patrol the road” leading to a team-based environment. It must decide how teams will operate and how the organization will respond. And it must communicate clearly the interdependent nature of relationships among team members and other organizational players so that all participants arrive safely at their destination. Implementation of distributed leadership can be time-consuming and difficult (Barry, 1991). Even having all the needed leadership resources does not assure success of implementation. Therefore, he continues, team members should be carefully picked with an eye toward the varying leadership skills required. This means that the team must be given time to develop a viable system of distributed leadership. Management external to the group should encourage the use of multiple leaders and avoid jumping in and co-opting the team’s leadership process. With the right leadership mix, enough time, and support from outside, an SMT can achieve remarkable results. Without these factors in place, an SMT can easily become one more fire to be extinguished. 2.4. MANAGING INTEGRATED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Managing constraints is an essential issue in integrated and cooperative product development (Karandikar, 1991). He means that the engineering product development process is driven by the multiple objectives of the product developers and, at the same time, constrained by conditions restricting their exploration of the design space. Constraints from a number of disciplines (e.g., aerodynamics, structures) and processes (e.g., manufacturing, maintenance) are imposed on the design. The objectives and constraints have their origins in the different phases of the life cycle of the product. Cooperative Product Development (CPD) is seen as the principal mechanism for supporting Concurrent Engineering (CE). Karandikar (1991) points out that in large organizations, CPD often involves teams of geographically separated product developers working in a distributed and heterogeneous computer environment. Communication, cooperation, and coordination are critical for maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of the product development process. In order to facilitate CPD, it is essential that a development team is provided with mechanisms that allow the project leader to monitor progress being made on the design, allow teams and team members to recognize conflicts among their respective perspectives, and provide mechanisms to resolve these conflicts. Karandikar (1991) stresses that in well-structured product development process, many of the constraints, but not all, will be known at the outset of the project. It can be assumed that the developers have received specifications for the product and that resource limitations for the project have been established. The vast majority of the product development process time is spent performing design activities and accessing constraint information for examination, evaluation, and propagation. Comparatively little time is spent actually creating, modifying, and therefore updating constraint information.
2.5. DISTRIBUTED SYSTEMS IT-tools can be of effective aid for an organization concerning both internal and external collaboration, i.e., when team participants are geographical distributed. Motivated by the increasing demand for highly complex, yet highly reliable distributed systems, various techniques for modeling such systems have been proposed. In a broad sense, a distributed system can be thought of as consisting of a network of individual workstations, which require the use of certain system resources in order to perform their assigned tasks. When performing any collective activity, the participating workstations coordinate their actions by communicating with each other via messages, shared memory and remote procedure calls. Hamilton (1986) describes one type of distributed system, namely DDP (Distributed Data Processing). It is basically a system of linked computers located at different points in the organization. The essence of DDP is that the “user is king” but this can only happen if the user has enough knowledge of computing to control the computer. The type of knowledge required would seem to be, according to Hamilton, basic hardware familiarity and some keyboard skills, an awareness of the limitations and strengths of computer and essential differences between mainframe, mini and micro, an awareness of the capabilities and limitations of certain commercial software packages. Ang (1995) points out that since significant benefits often can be realized by sharing these systems resources among the different workstations, the principal challenge is the development of efficient and robust resource allocation and access mechanisms. He means that we are influenced by the suggestion that a distributed system is most successful if its architecture consists of a collection of autonomous workstations, which communicate with each other, because such architecture directly resembles and reflects the structure of the real-world user community or applications. 2.6. COMMUNICATION TOOLS AND COLLABORATIVE MEANS Computer-mediated communication tools can be categorized, according to Maher and Rutherford (1997), as follows. • Information sharing tools (that facilitate communication between individual members of a group) • Group concept development tools (e.g., whiteboards) • Computer supported meeting environment (i.e., custom built meeting rooms with audio visual facilities and broad bandwidth communication to other purpose built centers) • Collaborative writing tools (i.e., support the shared authoring of documents between remote users, e.g., E-mail) • Shared workplaces (i.e., a means of sharing all or part of a desktop with other users and facilitates concurrent or synchronous problem solving). Communication is necessary to obtain collaboration. Upton and McAfee (1996) have studied different technologies currently in use to enhance collaboration. They are as follows.
• Electronic Data Interchange. EDI is the oldest form of electronic collaboration among manufacturers. It grew out of a need to simplify the paperwork for administrating the Berlin airlift. Today’s EDI uses a collection of common formats for communicating data between companies. Current EDI fills very little of the virtual factory’s requirements. • Groupware. The class of software addresses some of EDI’s drawbacks and has become popular for building collaborative environments. They make available a common body of information, they track work flows so that group members can collaborate on documents and projects and finally, the software provides a platform for communication and interactive discussions, from E-mail and bulletin boards to on-screen video. Groupware can be expensive. Maher and Rutherford (1997) describe another category of tools that can be referred to as collaborative-aware CAD and provides the basis for the development of a model for collaborative design. In collaborative-aware tools, a CAD system is shared between two or more designers. While this model provides a convenient method of sharing information over great distances, where bandwidth is an issues, the major problem encountered with distributed architectures of this kind is ensuring that each view of the model is consistent. A problem with the current approaches to collaborative CAD is that the users either has shared access to a digital image of the design or the users have individual access to CAD models. Maher and Rutherford (1997) note that distributed systems can be considered in a matrix distinguishing between time and space.
Same time Same place
Single User CAD
CAD with data management (UNIX-op.system) Distributed CAD (Distributed database)
Figure 5. The use of CAD across time and space (Maher and Rutherford, 1997) In their model, a distributed system that supports group work in the same place at different times is called asynchronous interaction and is typified by an operating system such as UNIX. A distributed system that supports group work in different places and different times is called asynchronous distributed interaction and is typified by a distributed database. A distributed system that supports group work at the same time in different places is called synchronous distributed interaction and is typified by software called
groupware. They also refer the use of CAD in different places as collaborative-aware CAD drawing while in different locations, seeing the same image on the screen, and communicate with each other. This approach to collaborative CAD considers the use of the computer as a medium for collaboration, rather than a source of design automation. 2.6.1. High-Speed Broad Band Maher and Rutherford (1997) indicate that it is now feasible for a company to implement a venture wide LAN to facilitate the rapid communication of production information between design, build and management teams. This is much due to the recent advances in information technology, particularly in the area of high-speed broad band telecommunications (BISDN). The extent of the services available to design practice encompass a broad range of data transfer requirements including electronic mail, direct file transfer, audio visual conferencing and whiteboards. 2.6.2. Video Conferencing Video conferencing is discussed by Boutte et al. (1996). They mean that although a video conference meeting is similar to a normal face-to-face meeting, the dynamics of the meeting are very different. Understanding group dynamics involved is very important to running an effective videoconference meeting. The videoconference provides remote groups and individuals a very effective tool for interaction and decision making. In general, video conferencing works best for groups of people who already know each other and are comfortable working together (Boutte et al., 1996). Video may exaggerate problems between groups that have a high degree of conflict to begin with. If two groups that do not know each other must meet via a videoconference, it may be helpful for them to meet face-to-face initially to get acquainted. Boutte et al. (1996) suggest that there are three main roles in a videoconference meeting: the facilitator, the participants and the observers. The facilitator plays the most crucial role in a videoconference, he or she orchestrate the meeting. He or she keeps the meeting focused on the agenda, and encourages discussion and feedback. Certain norms and protocol must be followed to get the most out of a videoconference (Boutte et al., 1996). They also argue that studies have shown that communication mediated by audio or video can be just as effective as face-to-face meetings. Resolving conflicts through video conferencing is not as effective as face-to-face mediation. But video conferencing allows an organization to coordinate the work of disperse groups in an effective manner. However, video conferencing does not replace physical face-to-face meetings. It offers an alternative between a physical meeting requiring travel and telephone conversations. 2.6.3. The Internet: The Source of Information Networking on the Internet can fundamentally alter the way in which Industrial Engineers (IE) go about doing their work (Mathieu and Dickerson, 1995). Global access to
people, data, software, documents and multimedia changes the way in which people scan for information, process personal and business communications, and, ultimately, solve business problems. Increasingly, they point out, manufacturing professionals need to interact with persons from other disciplines and with persons who are geographically dispersed around the globe. So the Internet enables direct person-to-person communication using electronic mail and group communication using electronic communication forums. In addition, many computers on the Internet store freely accessible information, thus allowing people to share, disseminate and receive data and software. Other authors, Hameri and Nihtilä (1997), have also taken an interest in how the Internet and the World Wide Web provide the media for managing and disseminating project data. They mean that using hypertext links, the Web-based system gives team members easy access to engineering drawings, 3D models, parameter lists, prototype test results, and other engineering information. World-Wide-Web and Internet technology seems to have reached a stage in which it provides the needed functionality, flexibility, and reliability for supporting the communication needs of large distributed NPD projects. Moreover, this technology enabled the setup cost and time for a purely project-specific system to be reduced to an acceptable level. Our analysis also suggests that in distributed interorganizational NPD projects, the networking infrastructure, both at an national level and the level of the individual organizations, has become an issue of significance importance and should be integrated into the project planning phase at the outset of the development effort. Hameri and Nihtilä (1997) argue that the main function of networked IT seems to be one of the information dissemination and sharing. However, they point out that their data also provide some indications that there are limits to how collaborative the networked product development can be. The issue of networked interactivity and its limitation is clearly a question, which merits further research. From the viewpoint of managerial implications, their study indicates that the prevailing technological infrastructure of electronic communication is so mature that it is possible to transfer some of the controlling tasks of project management to the communications system. 2.7. REQUIREMENTS FOR A COLLABORATIVE DESIGN ENVIRONMENT The requirements for a collaborative design environment fall into three major categories (Maher and Rutherford, 1997). 1.
A shared workplace (a group of designers with shared access to the relevant applications where each designer sees the same visualization/data of the design). An application domain (provides a variety of design tools from which the design team can choose the best suited for their specific task). Data management (provides support for the persistent storage of design decisions and access to the current state of the design project).
Maher and Rutherford (1997) argue that recent developments in computersupported collaborative work (CSCW) and the implementation of groupware provide a basis for people to hold meetings in which the participants are geographically distributed and the computer provides the medium for communication. They point out that perception reinforcement is especially important during the initiation and planning stages of concept design, and that can be achieved by facilitating the concurrent viewing and manipulation of graphical and semantic design data. Upton and McAfee (1996) argue that for most companies true electronic collaboration remains elusive. They hold that even highly sophisticated companies have found the task of creating seamless electronic networks of lean, computer-integrated manufacturing operations to be frustrating and difficult. Managers at most of these companies are still struggling to increase the flexibility of the information systems. They point out that the mangers are perplexed about why so much paper is still being shuffled around even after heavy investments in IT. The three main technologies that companies have employed to create the virtual factory – electronic data interchange (EDI), proprietary groupware (such as Lotus Notes), and dedicated wide-area networks – are not complete solutions, according to Upton and McAfee. They have discerned three basic demands on such a network. 1. It must be able to accommodate network members whose IT sophistication varies enormously – from the small machine shop with a single PC in the corner to the large site that boasts an array of engineering workstations and mainframes. 2. While maintaining a high level of security, it must be able to cope with a constantly churning pool of suppliers and customers whose relationship vary enormously in intimacy and scope. 3. It must give its members a great deal of functionality, including the capacity to transfer files between computers, the power to access and utilize all the programs on a computer located at a distant site. Hutchinson (1994) indicates that the motivation for globally operating companies to establish global engineering-design capabilities was their need to achieve competitive advantage or avoid competitive disadvantage. He reports that the competitive advantages that were highlighted in his interviews were derived from the following actions. • Exploiting centers of excellence. • Mirroring core skills in each business location. • Developing technical and project-management language and methodologies. • Establishing 24 h engineering capabilities. DDP brings both opportunities and consequences for those organizations, which implement it. Hamilton (1986) has identified four opportunities. The first is that managers have an important part in designing systems, which closely match their needs. Secondly, through the application of modeling software packages used on a local computer to a central database, managers can build corporate models directly, without relying on Operational Research staff available or their understanding of business problems. A third oppor-
tunity was that control of the locally based computer was definitely in the hands of users/managers. Lastly, the nature of the technology presented an opportunity to build a balanced relationship between the user and the data processing professionals, making the boundary between the two groups more permeable. 2.8. PROBLEMS WHEN IMPLEMENTING NPD Hutchinson (1994) highlighted a number of barriers to the implementation of global engineering-design capabilities. Among these are local staff resistance and cross-cultural misunderstanding. Another problem is the lack of computational support for distributed engineering teams. There exists many forms of computational support for remote communication and collaborative problem solving, ranging from shared authoring via electronic mail to multimedia applications that support remote conferencing and information browsing and retrieval (Maher and Rutherford, 1997). While this form of application software provides effective conversational tools, Maher and Rutherford (1997) argue that current groupware technology does not reach the level of support and sophistication, required to resolve complex design problems. Hamilton (1986) found consequences that were apparent, namely that users must have reasonable level of computer literacy and skills. Both, users and managers who use the systems indirectly, are well placed to offer advice on the outputs that are valuable in decision-making. He points out that to do so they need a basic knowledge of how computers function, their limitations, the time it may take to develop systems and the user commitment required. There can be many barriers to achieve the benefits of distributed engineering. Barriers like to overcome resistance and cross-cultural misunderstanding and others. Hutchinson (1994) identified five key areas via which global engineering-design project capabilities were implemented and managed in companies. Each of these areas had a defined strategy, and its own implementation plan. • ‘Global organization’. This was created through core values and objectives, worldwide goal congruence. • Global human-resources management policies. These policies included the selection and recruitment requirements for good communication and linguistic skills. • Global technical and management methodologies and procedures. These aimed to eliminate cross-cultural and linguistic misunderstandings, and allow the interchangeability of design work. • Global information-technology infrastructure. This was driven by business objectives, and aimed to create economic communication between a global network of distributed computing centers. • Global project managers. Over and above conventional requirements, global project managers need to be trained to develop particular skills to be able to motivate and influence multicultural teams via electronic communications.
Townsend et al. (1996) discuss an important issue of sociological character. They mean that literature has provided an important initial look into the phenomenon of the virtual organization. However, the sociological issues associated with virtual connection and their impact on the technical development needed to fully empower workers in virtual modes, referred to as virtual teams or virtual workgroups requires much more study. While the virtual work group (VWG) may provide an effective organizational response to downsizing the workforce, when combined with team-based organizational designs it also becomes attractive to an increasing number of workers. Townsend et al. (1996) suggest that the implications of environmental changes upon information systems (IS) indicate that the designers must recognize the specific IS demands required by changing organizational structures and, simultaneously, they must identify opportunities previously unavailable due to technological limitations. Österlund (1997) found that the demand for more information is a problem for an operator in NPD work. The demand is related to more complex product structures and to ambition that the design work should be performed in shorter times and in close cooperation with other, external actors. This requires an information support that is favorable to the individual user as a human being. Individual factors: • Group communication as a norm • Human information window • Media profile – information richness • Interpretation fidelity • Communication quality and value • Means integration • Computer software appearance
Organizational factors: • Self-governed operational groups • Network organization • Temporary virtual teams (project teams) • Direct multiauthoritarian management • Forming a competence structure • A learning system
Communication system factors: Structuring by: • Intention • Purpose • Sources • Distribution forms • Processing methods • Information logistics
Figure 6. An overview of factors that influence the user’s information environment (Österlund, 1996). Development of a good user information environment must, however, be regarded from many perspectives, which represent different knowledge disciplines. Österlund (1997) points out that information must be efficient and easy to interpret – unambiguously at a distance in the same manner as in direct, face-to-face contacts – without causing stress by information overload. This requires for example the following.
• Increased communication capacity by redundancy in media through simultaneous use of voice and video media – not only written text. • Adaptation to a human way of thinking. • Use of information-slimmed management forms and a network organization • Selection of valuable information. • Reduction of sources by their importance to the operations. • Communication structuring based on information intentions, purposes, forms, etc. To conclude, Österlund means that tools of informatics alone are not the solution to the problems. He argues that in a multidisciplinary systems analysis the problems must be considered from several perspectives. These are: • The systems perspective. The source of competence resources is individuals in a group forming a social system for learning and support. • The biosocial perspective. An improved capability of information handling by the individuals is necessary for solving the communication problems. • The technological perspective. New trends in support of living systems are needed in the development of information technology for communication purposes. • The organization science perspective. Managerial actions through organizational means are required to obtain a basis for efficient and valuable information handling.
3. ENGINEERING DESIGN ISSUES 3.1. ENGINEERING DESIGN WORK In NPD, design work is characterized as the part that “create” the product, i.e., make the drawings, models etc. Engineering design can be described as the creation of a product, based on a specification text. It is a conversion from “only” text to a visible product in form of drawings, models or prototypes. Information is fundamental during conversion. The solution of various technical and design problems requires information of different type, content and range. The firms must then establish a quick and adequate flow of information, by organizational measures and the appropriate techniques, between the various departments working on a specific task. Various models have been developed for processing written and oral information to satisfy a variety of needs. According to Pahl and Beitz (1988) research evidence show that technical developments depend largely on the efficiency and range of its information system. They point out that problem solving demands a constant flow of information. In the process of conversion the information is received, processed and transmitted. According to Österlund (1997) design work is a synthesis in which the units are assembled to a complete product, step by step. He means that somewhere in the synthesis it is necessary to apply configuration management to gain control of the design status by in-
sertion of a change routine. NPD is divided into axes by activities and events (product task, competence transfer and administrative axis). The product task axis shows breakdown from the product specification. The competence transfer axis includes an investigation of required and available competencies to perform the activities in the work packages (a part of a product). The administrative axis forms a project organization by establishment of a team for project management. 3.1.1. Design Activities There is a range of various design approaches in the literature (Pugh (1990), Pahl and Beitz (1996), Ulrich and Eppinger (1995) etc.). Many of them describe different activities involved in the design of a product. The following activities, or aspects, of the design process are often considered to be essential. • • • •
Exploration of the problem Generation of alternative solutions Evaluation of solutions Communication and information among actors
Ulrich and Eppinger (1995) describe the product development process with a focus on design activities. They dived the process into the following five phases, and even if marketing, manufacturing and other functions participate in all phases, the focus is on design. 1) Concept development phase • Investigate feasibility of product concept • Develop industrial design concepts • Build and test experimental prototypes 2) System-level design phase • Generate alternative product architectures • Define major sub-systems and interfaces • Refine industrial design 3) Detail design phase • Define part geometry • Choose materials • Assign tolerances • Complete industrial design control documentation 4) Testing and refinement phase • Do reliability testing, life testing, and performance testing • Obtain regulatory approvals • Implement design changes
5) Production ramp-up phase • Evaluate early production output. Malmqvist et al. (1996) conclude that a large number of design methodologies have been developed within design science, but the distinctions between these are not clear. They selected two well- known design methodologies for comparative analysis: 1. the Theory of Inventive Problem-Solving (TIPS), developed by Altshuller 2. the Systematic Approach of Pahl and Beitz (SAPB) The reasons why Malmqvist et al. (1996) choose these two methodologies are that both aim to facilitate the creation of new products and the improvements of old products, they emphasize the importance of the knowledge of physical effects to solve technical problems, and they have different backgrounds. TIPS is developed in the Soviet Union and SAPB is a representative of the European school of design. According to Malmqvist et al. the methodologies differ in the following respects. • The synthesis problem is stated differently. TIPS identifies an unresolved conflict whereas SAPB states the function of system in an abstracted, solution-neutral way. • The scope of SAPB is wider as it covers the entire design process from product planning to detail design, and component as well as system design. • SAPB suggests that creative methods may be useful to generate solutions. • TIPS features some solution-finding tools that are more powerful that the SAPB correspondents: evolution laws for engineering systems and standards. Therefore, Malmqvist et al. suggest that a more powerful methodology may result if the methodologies are unified. They suggest that such unification should use SAPB as an underlying design process model while integrating TIPS elements at certain points. 3.1.2. Information Information has today become a crucial factor and key resource within an enterprise, and it has a great influence on new product development. The main underlying factor influencing the utilization of this information is that its management is often complex and difficult. Court et al. (1997) suggest that what is generally true for the enterprise is also particularly true for the design team, who are involved in decision-making and other activities applying the information that has been generated within or external to the enterprise. They mean that engineers and designers must be able to communicate with each other and share information over extended distances. Their paper concentrates on information from the perspective of the design team that is in an essential part of the information flows in an organization. The members of the team receive information from colleagues, from other de-
partments, from specialists, from suppliers, from external organizations etc. to be able to design and create products. This information is then transformed and distributed to specialists, analysts to manufacturing engineering and to customers. Court et al. (1997) argue that problems, involved in distribution and gathering of information, seldom is a lack of available information, but, the great volume may slow down or prevent the engineer or designer obtaining a critical fact or piece of information. Österlund (1997) also points out an essential problem, namely the logistic problem, the storage of information that is valuable for future work in the corporation such as banks of experience for development of core competencies, etc. Imprecision, and incompleteness or vagueness, are typical reasons for uncertainties concerning the content of an information, and the most significant reason for misinterpretation of information is the loss of the context of the information (Eversheim et al. (1997). They mean that a recipient of information uses his knowledge about the context to interpret a statement, and if he misses the correct context, he has no possibility to judge the reliability. • The content of information is related to the data level. It contains uncertainties, which refer to data and their values. • The context of information concerns the conditions, the immediate context, of data. The uncertainties at this level refer to the subjectivity and reliability of given values at the data level. The two components, the content and the context, affect then the recipient’s possibilities to extract the essence of the information. 3.1.3. Engineering Change Due to IT Within NPD work the use of computers is increasing and becoming more common, as a tool for design, support such as calculations, CAD, and for configuration management purposes. These applications often require the use of powerful workstations in highcapacity networks. Österlund (1997) believes that decreasing prices for this sort of equipment will soon make them available on every designer’s desk. The amount of information available at the workplace will then be enormous. At the same time, according to Österlund, the need for communication increases because of the demand for cooperation with people external to the group in overlapping phases of the development process, fast time to market, concurrent engineering, etc. He means that it will be physically impossible for a design engineer to obtain efficiency at work, if it is based only on direct personal face-toface contacts with partners outside the work group. In efforts to overcome this dilemma for designers, Österlund (1997) points out that workstations have been equipped with communication facilities such as electronic mail, bulletin boards, etc. But, he argues that communication based on text will have a very low communication value and the safety in interpretation is also low, especially when using foreign language. But Österlund sees an opening in the new software programs with multimedia capability, which is usable in some high capacity workstations.
3.1.4.Information Technology Tools Today, there is a range of various communication and information tools available for designers and other actors involved in product development. Within the context of the overall engineering design and development process computer tools have for many years been successfully used to aid and support design teams. Early applications which are now well established are for example the following. • • • • • • •
Computer Aided Draughting (CAD), both 2D and 3D; Solid modeling; Finite Element Analysis (FEA); Analytical support tools; Engineering databases (electronic catalogues); Dynamic model simulation; Spreadsheets.
Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) have grown rapidly over the past 20 years. CAD now comprises the mainstream method of defining and communicating the design requirements of mechanical components and products. This indicates the value of representing mechanical design information in a computer database. However, Court et al. (1997) point out that the use of various tools is very much confined to the later detail stages of NPD. That means when the solution is already well defined (i.e., when the major elements of geometry have been established) and the design team is verifying the suitability of the product’s design. Court et al. (1997) report about a more recently developed computer tools, i.e., knowledge-based computer tools. These have been developed to enable design teams to evaluate designs more accurately and much earlier in the design process. These tools’ aim is to reduce the amount of time and efforts that is expended in specifying geometry and design configurations accurately. The following are examples of such areas. • • • •
Component selection Material selection Sub-assembly design Assembly design
The rapid progress of the above tools and IT in general, has been largely focused on providing methods for promoting the practice of Concurrent Engineering (CE). IT has also become the thrust behind the improvement provision, information flow and data transfer between design teams and external parties, as well as to assist design teams in the efficient execution of their work. Examples of other tools are the following. • Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) • Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) • Material Requirements Planning (MPR)
• Engineering Database Management Systems (EDBMS) • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Court et al. (1997) argue that the primary aim of this kind of technology has been to improve the use, flow and quality of information, as well as to assist the design team in the efficient execution of their work. The promised benefits of these systems include • reduction of lead times, by changing from serial to a concurrent engineering environment, • getting designs right first time by re-using relevant data in a timely manner, • reduction in the overall costs during the design and development phases, • better re-use of data and consequently fewer design errors, • better communication between departments, • more effective use of design teams in that they can locate, retrieve, distribute and re-use data in a speedy and more efficient manner. Other means available are management methods and information technologies for product development processes, for example the following. • • • • • •
The Systematic Design Process Simultaneous Engineering QFD and TQM Benchmarking DFM and DFA Rapid Prototyping
Other useful informatics tools include, according to Österlund (1997), are • full-media video communication, substituting face-to-face contacts; • virtual networks intended for use of a team established to solve a temporary problem; • project control by network handling systems for planning and scheduling, and to find an optimum with the help of simulation. CASE (Computer-Aided Software/Systems Engineering) tools are claimed to increase information systems and software development effectiveness in terms of productivity of systems development and the quality of the developed systems. However, Iivari (1996) argues that CASE tools are relatively expensive and associated training costs may exceed the original price of the tool.
3.1.5. Virtual Teams Virtual teams have become an issue for some organizations today. Using a virtual team means that a specialist do not need to be physically removed from his/hers work site, to be able to participate in the work of a virtual PD team. Virtual reality is an exiting new field, which may offer significant improvements in the efficiency of human-computer interface for a wide variety of computer applications. According to Springer and Gadh (1996), virtual reality (VR) is generally characterized as a three-dimensional, interactive, computer-generated, multisensory synthetic environment. They mean that of the many proposed applications of VR, mechanical design may be one of the most promising. Therefore, Springer and Gadh propose a model of a VR- interface for conceptual design and creation of a CAD model. This to facilitate more rapid product development. They argue that currently, CAD databases of design information are created by a graphical user interface (GUI), which consists of icon and text menu systems that permit the user to create, modify and assemble computer representations of physical objects. A VR-CAD interface should allow more efficient creation of the CAD models and a more natural interaction between the design personnel and the design data. In short term this means that the goal of a VR-CAD interface is to increase the efficiency of currently available CAD functions such as product documentation, documentation updates for engineering change orders, and design analysis functions. 3.1.6. Tool Usage and Impacts Can there be disadvantages of earlier stated examples of systems and tools? Are they not a valuable asset for the design team? Court et al. (1997) argue that the promised benefits can be easily reduced, or even lost in some cases, through the enterprise or individual taking inappropriate considerations of the methods used for accessing and storing information. Regardless of these advancements in IT, design teams have been very critical of some of these systems. They view them as being far from satisfactory. Two of the most common complaints are that it is difficult to identify a suitable database, and that tools operate with different languages and commands. The IT evolution has today made it possible to replace the usual method of assigning individual technical specialists into interdisciplinary or cross-functional teams, by virtual teams communicating at a distance through full-media communication provided by a computer network. But why are case tools not fully used within organizations? Iivari (1996) has analyzed the relationship between the utilization of CASE and the impacts of CASE. He recognizes four trends in the recent innovation theory that are of interest in the relationship between tool usage and its impact. 1. 2. 3. 4.
Organizational adoption Adopter interdependencies Managerial influence to adoption Knowledge barriers to adoption.
CASE technology seems to capture aspects of all of these trends. Iivari (1996) means that the relationship between user participation and information systems (IS) success, is one of the most investigated topics in IS research. He means that the results clearly indicate that management has an important role in the adoption of complex innovations such as CASE. Both management support and voluntariness were significant predictors of CASE usage. The perceived complexity of the systems was also a significant determinant of CASE effectiveness. Participation Management support Training Expectation realism
Figure 7. The conceptual model of the relationship between CASE usage and CASE impacts (Iivari, 1996). The DATA communications environment is growing at an explosive rate. Huge leaps in technology, associated with increased global need and awareness, have led to a world-wide architecture which is expected to evolve into seamless interconnection of all major networking protocols on a shared, well-managed backbone. Lai and Guynes (1997) discuss the adoption or rejection of IT. They mean that the potential of seamless integration and universal connectivity, integrated services digital network (ISDN) technology is emerging as one of the most important enabling information technologies for competitive advantage in the business organization. ISDN is a means that enables the integration of voice, data, and/or images, providing end-to-end digital communications over existing twisted-pair cable. The most successful corporation in the future, Lai and Guynes argue, will be those that view the network, such as ISDN, as a critical tool in seizing new business opportuni-
ties, improving productivity and the quality of work life, and gaining a competitive edge in the market place. Lai and Guynes point out that most researchers will agree that the decision to adopt or reject IT such as ISDN is dependent upon three major factors. 1. 2. 3.
Characteristics of the innovation Characteristics of the organization Management process within the organization
Lai and Guynes’ research model also incorporates the following organizational subfactors, which are assumed to explain the adoption of ISDN in organizations. • The effects of organizational strategy, i.e., expansion - expand diffusion of an information technology, and control - to control diffusion of an information technology. • The organizational context, i.e., the openness, i.e., the degree to which members of a system is linked to others who are external to the system. • The norm-encouraging change, i.e., the employee’s positive attitude toward change, e.g., slack resources, and size. • The organizational structure, i.e., centralization, formalization, and complexity. Contextual Effects • Openness • NormsEncouragingchange • Slack Resources • Size
The often heard belief that information technology itself can help solve problems during product development has proven to be an error, according to Esebeck et al. (1995). This is a result of many informal talks with representatives from product development departments of German companies in a study conducted by Esebeck et al. One result of these talks was that before thinking about using information technology for support, an analysis of the products and processes to be developed and the methods available to support the development process of these products has to be made. Much of the basic software required to support the product development process at relatively productive levels has been developed. However, there are areas where technical advances in information technology could greatly benefit the product development process. Ideally, all future systems should have an inherent structure, which is consistent with the product development methodology adopted. By following this approach, the product development teams will have data available at the appropriate time, in the appropriate format, and in the most efficient manner. 3.1.7. Measures The possibility to be able to find a way to measure the usefulness of information would be of great help in choosing and working with various IT-tools. Court et al. (1997) emphasize that the work of Pahl and Beitz (1988) have been directed to establish measures for information usefulness. They may be categorized into the following areas of interest. • The medium of presentation. Today, the sharing of information can be achieved via a wide variety of communication media, such as: face-to-face, video conferencing, email, memo, formal documents etc. • The format of presentation. This includes face-to-face communication, which is the richest form of information processing. Interpersonal channels of communication are important when perceived uncertainty is high as rich media are better than low rich media at eliminating ambiguity. • The location of delivery. It is comprised of the information/data that is created, collected and stored on various media types, the processes which guide design and production, and the people within the organization. • The management of delivery. The control and delivery of information can be a nightmare if it is not managed effectively. • The timeliness of information access. There have been numerous studies into the percentage of time that engineers spend on their various activities. Lack of time was found to be the most important barrier to engineering effectiveness. Improperly designed systems may impede information flow and frustrate communication between people. This can lead to the duplication of information and the compounding of human errors. • The accuracy of information. This may concern the physical, experimental or other basis of data, but it may also concern the accuracy of the transcription of values utilized by the engineer.
• The relevance of information. To resolve uncertainty in the industrial context relevant information is needed, but this uncertainty can also be reduced by providing information about information. This means providing leads to locating the information of primary interest required resolving the uncertainty. • The cost of information. The cost associated with say obtaining, waiting for, managing, misusing, ignoring or translating information may be very difficult to calculate in isolation, as each factor will undoubtedly have an effect on others. 3.2. CHANGES OF ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS The introduction of information technology has been ad hoc, according to Finger et al. (1995). Continual changes in computer hardware and software have aggravated the problem of creating integrated engineering systems. In many firms, the forces of globalization, information technology, and distributed design and manufacture have already made inroads in the day-to-day practice of design and manufacture. Finger et al. (1995) mean that the problems of developing methodologies to address the needs of the new organization remain an open question. The engineering product design process has changed substantially over the last decade. It is moving from sequential to concurrent, hierarchical to parallel, deferred problem resolution to real-time problem resolution, paper data exchange to electronic data exchange, standalone tools to integrated tools, limited design space exploration to comprehensive design space exploration. Thus, Finger et al. argue for an approach to concurrent design that is firmly based on the requirements of practice while providing rich areas for research and evaluation of tools, methods, and representations that will populate the design support environment. They suggest that the approach, appropriately enough, is the self-reflexive use of concurrent design for concurrent design. Sotto (1996) points out that it is obvious that the introduction of IT devices in society and organizations will often appear to the users to be provoking sudden radical changes. The automation of a plant, the replacement of manual operations by computers, etc., is certainly experienced as rapid and drastic transformations. But he means that considered in the broader perspective of the dissemination of IT in human settings, these changes immediately appear as extremely punctual. They are no more than partial implementations contributing to a slow process of computerization. According to Sotto, not only do most well established IT devices fail to live up to their promised instrumental values, but even advanced IT products are often only very partially usable. In this perspective, we can say that the much wanted IT “revolution” has certainly not been accomplished yet. To move away from the instrumental/revolutionary perspective on IT, Sotto argues that it naturally requires that we approach its meaning for organizing from a different angle. It is here that, in considering how organizing in cyberspace takes place, we cannot avoid sensing the way the organizational link is shifting its locus. It is moving away from the realm of the inexpressible existential human condition and commitment in the world,
mainly preserved in the verbal and written mode of inscription, towards cyberspace and its virtual mode of being. This is a change in locus, which clearly indicates a concomitant change in the essence of organizational relationally, the consequences of, which are now open to our attention and scrutiny. 3.2.1. Virtual Teams Pawar and Sharifi (1997) highlight the differences between virtual team and physical collocation in terms of social, technical and structural issues. • Proximity of team members: In physical collocated teams proximity of members is usually close whereas in virtual teaming it is usually remote. • Nature of interaction: In physically collocated teams actors have greater opportunity to share work and non-work related information. In virtual teaming, the extent of informal exchange of information is minimal. • Utilization of resources: Physical proximity increases the opportunity for allocation and sharing of resources. Whilst in virtual teaming each collaborating body will have to have access to similar technical and non-technical infrastructure. • Working environment: In a virtual team project it seemed that partners encountered motivational problems; feeling isolated and frustrated as they were not sometimes able to share ideas or dilemmas with other partners. Whilst collocated team members could communicate with each other more readily. They encountered constraints accessing information and interacting with others outside the collocated team within the company. • Cultural and educational background: In physical collocation usually the members of the team tend to have similar and complementary cultural and educational background since they have gone through the same recruitment and selection procedures. Whilst in PACE (VT) project the team members varied in their education, culture, language, time-orientation and expertise. • Technological compatibility: A physically collocated team, situated and operating within a single organization, aces minimal incompatibility of the technological systems used for product design and development. In virtual situation this compatibility between different systems in collaborating organizations ought to be negotiated at the outset. Pawar and Sharifi (1997) mean that virtual teaming integration of design/development activities is often achieved via the use of such communication means as post, telephone, fax, video conferencing, E-mail and sharing electronic databases, and they argue that these means are most often used to simply simulate face-to-face (physical) communication. 3.2.1. Virtual Environment (VE) Virtual teams and environment are issues that are increasingly becoming popular to discuss. Mastaglio and Gallahan (1995) have studied large-scale complex virtual environ-
ment for team training. They mean that virtual reality and computer-generated worlds will be more meaningful when two or more individuals can interact with the virtual space. In the process of developing Close Combat Tactical Trainer (CCTT), a joint US Army-Loral project, they have accumulated many lessons learned. Concurrent engineering is an invaluable approach without alternative for a large-scale complex system, especially one based on virtual environment. Structuring an organization to work with this approach is a significant effort and it may actually increase the amount of time needed to organize and train the teams and to accustom engineers in the various disciplines to the collaborative process. They point out that establishing an early on-site user presence and encouraging engineers to consult users is an enormous – but essential – task. Engineers with ready access to user experts acquire a better understanding of the system’s intended applications and they design and implement a better product that meets usability or applications domain testing. Currently we see a development of a large variety of different types of Virtual Reality system. Some are for leisure and entertainment but increasingly for more serious applications in the industry, medicine and education. He means that the quality of the virtual experience and its saliency (its meaning and value) for the participant is of utmost importance. The virtual world builder must carefully provide sensory cues to match the perceptual and motor performance a participant requires for task completion. According to Wilson (1996) it is better to talk of virtual environments created within Virtual Reality systems, rather than just Virtual Reality. The virtual environment experience should enable participants to feel displaced to a new location, to interact with objects and the environment, and to feel that the objects they are manipulating or observing are behaving appropriately. Wilson (1996) define six essential attributes of virtual environments. 1. The environments are generated by a computer. 2. The environments, or the participants’ experience of them, are three dimensional. 3. The participants have a sense of presence in VEs. 4. The participants can navigate around VEs. 5. The behavior of objects in VEs can match their in real life. 6. The participants can interact with VEs in real time. Wilson means that it is the concentration on real-time interaction and presence (which together with autonomy, or sophistication of the model to be the three key components of a VE), rather than pure quality or graphics, that distinguishes VEs from computer aided design and other 3D solid modeling systems. 220.127.116.11. Physiological problems related to VR and VE Wilson (1996) argues that research into VR side effects suffers from certain problems or restrictions. If experiments are based on one type of system results, the results may not be able to transfer to other systems, and the use of measures such as the Simulator Sickness scales opens up possibilities of reactivity to measurement. There are possible benefits of virtual environments. Wilson (1996) means that at one level the use of Head Mounted Displays (HMD), Virtual Reality, with LCDs in place
of CRT-based PCs and keyboards, may reduce any visual problems due to screen characteristics, any posture problems due to poor screen position, and physical workload from keying. Even desktop systems, with most interactions through the spaceball, may reduce static posture and repetitive keying problems. According to Wilson (1996), there is much discussion of potentially harmful or disturbing side effects for VE participants, but there is little in the way of hard evidence, with the exception of a very few reported studies. He argues that any examination of the effects of virtual environments on people – and particularly health and safety effects – must reflect three sets of issues to do with VEs. First, there is the question of the different types of experience to be gained and the different physical and cognitive interfaces available with different VR systems. Secondly, in part related to the choice of technology but also to an extent independent of this, there are many technical issues that impinge directly on user experience and particularly on adverse effects. The third set of factors to be accounted for in health and safety views of VEs, Wilson (1996)points out, are related to the virtual experience itself. This is related to both the quality of the VE, which are dependent upon technical factors, and also on individual differences. Research in this area shows strong individual differences in reported, and to an extent objectively measured, side effects – whether these are musculoskeletal, physiological or psychological effects. None of the work reported to date, according to Wilson (1996), has examined the various possible causal factors in isolation. Because of the multiplicity of technical and environment characteristics potentially involved, there is no real certainty that accommodation/convergence problem is the cause of any disturbing or potentially harmful effects. The main side effects examined were sickness or nausea, disorientation and oculomotor discomfort. 4. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS The focus of this report has been the organization of engineering work, the characteristics of distributed engineering design, and how organizational and managerial issues must change to support the change in engineering work. The integration of the three areas of organization, engineering design work, and tools in the PD-process is highlighted. In this section of the report, we summarize and discuss some of the topics presented in the main sections of the report. Virtual Teams, Reality and Collaboration The ability to work at various dispersed places, and around the clock, will be of increasing importance in the future in teams that are engaged in design work. However, there are many possibilities and consequences involved in such an arrangement. In this report, some of the means and tools that enables distributed engineering have been enlighten. Some of the views are concluded here. • Considerable costs are associated with information inefficiencies; • Informal communication plays a vital role in engineering design;
• The reliance on information provided by suppliers is both heavy and increasing; • Engineers rely heavily on their personal knowledge and experience as a source of information. It has been shown that although we may be progressing in the ‘information age’, members of the design team still prefer to use manual and verbal methods of communication and information retrieval. These preferred formats may suggest that computer information accessing and storage is still at the infancy stage and therefore dealt with some caution by the design team. The real problem area is the extensive use of personal information stores and the absence of easy to use indexing systems. Maher and Rutherford (1997) mean that, after describing their model for collaborative design as that both the CSCW approach to collaboration and the CAD, the approach to integration should be the basis of an environment for collaboration among designers. Such a model should include a shared workplace, an application domain, and data management that allows synchronous as well as asynchronous collaboration. Upton (1996) points out that traditional groupware has many of the transmission and data access capabilities that an effective virtual factory needs. It requires a relatively low level of IT sophistication. However, Wide-area Networks, this class of technology provides dedicated high-speed links that connect individual local-area networks. They provide universal access to all data and applications resident on members’ local-area networks. Various research also sheds some new light on the organization design challenge and the critical role of a flexible, networked information infrastructure for meeting the demand for increased information processing capacity and for minimizing information, decision and agency costs inherent in the new design. In short, the people and organizational dimensions are crucial to understanding actions and events during the process of collaboration and to facilitating successful co-operation. As such, it is not simply a question of integrating technology, people and organizational structures, but of managing the political collaborative process in the design, development and implementation of advanced technology. Wilson (1996) argues that there would appear to be agreement that for today’s and probably tomorrow’s Virtual Reality systems and virtual environment experiences there are likely to be some side-effects, possibly disturbing or harmful, for some participants. On the other hand, with the present or future generations of technology there is no evidence that the consequences of any effects will be serious or long lasting. Sophisticated Design Tools The demand for sophisticated analysis of complex phenomenon continues to increase. With the secured positioning of 3-D graphics in the engineering process the long awaited goals of Computer-Aided Engineering/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) are now at least partly realized within the context of “Concurrent Engineering”. Donohue (1996) means that a continued expansion and broadening of applications will be fostered by the standardization of all product information. This international activ-
ity provides a common language for product definition data. Known as STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product data) the standard allows data access independent of platform and software systems or the business discipline involved. Continued advancement in information system technology has expanded the role of engineering as concrete interfaces with other functions blur and diminish because of information flow. There is no reason to think this will change. It has been indicated that greater bandwidth, expertise, and security plus open standards and cheaper computing power have enabled internetworking. Also that advances in workstation technology and networking provide a resource for performing computationally intensive tasks in a distributed problem solving within a multi-disciplinary design organization is technically supported through data distribution. However, support for collaboration among human designers using the computer as a medium for visualization and representation is still a research topic, according to Maher and Rutherford (1997). IT's role in enabling new organizational models Information Technology has not only radically altered our view of interfirm boundaries, but IT has also challenged our notion of boundaries within firms. She means that there is an interplay among the environmental context, organization design, and information infrastructure. Information infrastructure serves an important role in expanding information processing capacity to meet the increased information processing demand. It also have the ability to reflect and augment complex interlocking decision authority structures. The role of IT is enabling organizational change (Applegate, 1994). The role of information-communication technology (ICT) in new organization design, e.g. net-work organizations, has been highlighted in studies in recent years. Travica (1995) studied the relationship between ICT and a new organizational design (e.g. decentralization at the operational level). His study suggests that ICT enables the non-traditional organization. Computer networks report can facilitate the imposition of a unified structure on any large organization formed from a number of small ones. Gunson and Boddy (1989) argue that it can encourage organizations to adopt more streamlined organizational structures. But they also point out some managerial problems of network systems. Organizations which made the most successful strategic use of networks systems, were those which had both the sponsorship of the chief executive and an information system department which was integrated into the strategic planning processes of the organization. Management of IT projects In the 21st century firms require both global and local knowledge, i.e., there is a need to understand both the whole picture and the specific details. It requires people to be competitive and cooperative, simultaneously self-assertive individually and interdependently joined with others. So there are two kinds of networks that have to be integrated, the social and the technical networks (Lipnack and Stamps, 1996). Networking means people
connecting people and that happens whether they are sitting around a conference table, using the telephone or the computer etc. Failure to integrate the human aspects of change with the technical requirements may lead to a misalignment between new methods of work organization and the shopfloor operating culture (Dawson, 1996). People in organizations need to be aware of the importance of understanding relationships and the interdependencies between different spheres of change. Integrated change is about understanding differences between perspectives and bodies of knowledge rather than assuming that differences can be displaced (Holti, 1996). Management of change is likely to depend not only on technology but also on the way in which organizations, political and occupational groups managers, academic researchers, system designers, and individual employees, respond to and participate in the process of innovation and change (Dawson, 1996). Efficiency and effectiveness of IT implementation Docherty and Stymne (1993) argue that IT is one means for achieving higher degrees of efficiency and effectiveness, but the effects are hard to measure. The reason is that the effects of IT are mediated and depend on other factors. However, they point out that IT requires new skills and capabilities from the personnel in order to function well. The organizational and power structure must change if the use of IT is to be a success (Docherty and Stymne, 1993). Many companies, faced with growing levels of both domestic and global competition, are turning to self-managed teams as a means of reducing middle management costs and fostering rapid product development (Barry, 1991). This teams require so called distributed leadership. To create effective team-based management, team members must take ownership of an area of responsibility and make the necessary decisions. Management must have faith that team members will make the best decisions they can. This require that the management provides teams with training in decision-making skills (Buck, 1995). Distributed systems, IT-tools, can be of effective aid for an organization concerning both internal and external collaboration (i.e. geographical distributed members). In broad sense, a distributed system can be considered as a network of individual workstations, which require the use of certain system resources in order to perform their assigned task. This stations coordinate their actions by communicating with each other via messages, shared memory and remote procedure calls. Due to the recent advances in information technology, particularly in the area of high-speed broad band tele-communications, companies can today facilitate the rapid communication of production information between design, build, and management teams. There are, however, some requirements for a collaborative design environment. These are, a shared workplace, an application domain, and data management (Maher and Rutherford, 1997). There can be problems when implementing global engineering-design capabilities, for example local staff resistance and cross-cultural misunderstanding. There can also be lack of computational support for distributed engineering teams (Hutchinson, 1994).
New Product Development (NPD) Information is a key issue in NPD work. The demand for more information is a problem for an operator in NPD work (Österlund, 1997). The work involves more complex product structures and the design work should be performed in shorter times and in close cooperation with other, external actors. Tools of informatics alone are not the solution to the problems, but in a multidisciplinary systems analysis the problems must be considered from several perspectives, namely: the system, the bio-social, the technological, and the organization science perspective (Österlund, 1997). Design work, in NPD, is the part that "create" the product. Various models have been developed for processing written and oral information to satisfy a variety of needs. Information has today become a crucial factor within a company. Therefore, engineers and designers must be able to communicate with each other and share information over extended distances. Court et al. (1997) point out that problems, involved in distribution and gathering of information, seldom is a lack of available information, but, the great volume may slow down or prevent the engineer or designer obtaining a critical or piece of information. Another problem is the logistic problem, the storage of information (Österlund, 1997). There are today numerous communication and information tools available for designers and other actors involved in product development (e.g., CAD, FEA, CAM, CIM, EDI). Organizational “tools” are also available, for example has virtual teams become a popular concept today. There are some problems, however. Two of the most common complaints are that it is difficult to identify a suitable database, and that tools operate with different languages and commands (Court et al., 1997). Management must therefore put the implementation of IT-tools in a strategic perspective. They must plan for the future and implement IT-tools that are suitable for their purposes, they must analyze and relate to "the big picture".
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Arbetsrapporter från Avdelningen för Industriell organisation, Luleå tekniska universitet 1997:1 Hörte, Sven Åke & Ylinenpää, Håkan The firm's and its customers' view on order-winning criteria 1997:2 Ylinenpää, Håkan External competence acquisition and market performance in manufacturing SMEs 1997:3 Hörte, Sven Åke & Ylinenpää, Håkan Competence development and performance in manufacturing SMEs 1997:4 Ylinenpää, Håkan & Björklund, Lars Organisational conflicts - a function of organisational differentiation and integration in an environmental context 1997:5 Ylinenpää, Håkan & Balashov, Valentin SME-managers in Russia and Sweden - empirical data and practical implications 1997:6 Ylinenpää, Håkan Barriers to innovation in Swedish SMEs 1997:7 Ylinenpää, Håkan Utvecklingslinjer inom företags- och arbetsorganisation - fallet "Tidningen" 1997:8 Hörte, Sven Åke Management of Technology Research in Europe. The COST A3 Inventory 1997:9 Ylinenpää, Håkan & Klaas Havenga Competence development in Swedish, South African and Russian SMEs 1997:10 Hörte, Sven Åke Social network analysis and Manipulative management 1997:11 Chronéer, Diana Review of articles concerning Product Development, Information and Communication 1997:12 Hörte, Sven Åke Projekt 45+ vid LKAB. En studie av förtida pensionering 1997:13 Christmansson, Marita & Hörte, Sven Åke Manual repetitive jobs. How important is autonomy and variety for the risk of musculoskeletal disorders in upper limbs? 1997:14 Ylinenpää, Håkan & Barth, Henrik et al Facing the challenge - Towards a better understanding of barriers to innovation in Irish, Swedish, Finnish and Belgian SMEs (Reprint from conference proceedings) 1997:15 Barth, Henrik & Ylinenpää, Håkan et al Barriers to innovation in European manufacturing SMEs (Reprint from conference proceedings) 1997:16 Barth, Henrik & Hörte, Sven Åke Organisation Structure in Manufacturing SME's (Reprinted from conference proceedings) 1997:17 Ylinenpää, Håkan m.fl. Forskningsprogram om småföretag vid Avdelningen för industriell organisation, Luleå tekniska universitet 1997:18 Lager, Thomas A literature review and a new theoretical framework for research and product and process innovation in Process industry 1997:19 Bylesjö, Hans & Hörte, Sven-Åke Factors influencing the choice of manufacturing systems structure 1997:20 Chronéer, Diana What is the trend of networks in product development for companies dealing with paper and steel products? 1997:21 Barth, Henrik The organisation structure - does it matter in emerging small firms? 1997:22 Barth, Henrik Product development in a Virtual Enterprise 1997:23 Barth, Henrik Organisation structure: A survey study of Irish SMEs 1998:24 Hörte, Sven Åke Hur kan man ge struktur åt rapporter och uppsatser? 1998:25 Chroneér, Diana & Hörte, Sven Åke Distributed engineering. Organizational, managerial and engineering design issues