Reference : Adapting a design approach: A case study in a small space company
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Engineering, computing & technology : Mechanical engineering
Adapting a design approach: A case study in a small space company
Gericke, Kilian mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication (FSTC) > Engineering Research Unit >]
Moser, Hubert [> >]
Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Modelling and Management of Engineering Processes
Heisig, Peter
Clarkson, John
University of Cambridge
[en] Design methodology ; Adaptation ; Tailoring
[en] Over the past decades many design process models have been proposed in design methodologies, standards, and guidelines. The development of design methodologies is accompanied by an ongoing debate concerning the applicability of the proposed process models in practice. While many authors highlight the usefulness of design methodologies for training of novices, it is recurrently reported that design methodologies are only seldom applied in design practice. An argument usually produced concerns the abstract character of the design methodologies.
While some authors put the whole idea of design methodologies into question, most authors agree that design methodologies are useful but need further development in order to enhance their applicability. Currently there are two main axes for further development of design methodologies: the rising interdisciplinarity in design practice which is not sufficiently addressed in the rather mono-disciplinary design methodologies and the adaptation of design methodologies to different contexts, which is recommended by many authors but lacks a systematic support.
This paper addresses the adaptation of a generic design approach to different contexts. The main research question concerns the rationale behind the adaptation.
The paper reports a case study in the space industry. The case study is based on a document study, a series of expert interviews and draws from the experience of one of the authors involved in the company. The study compares the design processes of four projects, which show some major differences requiring an adaptation of the particular design approach.
The design processes in the company are based on the ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardization) standards. The compliance with the processes and practices prescribed in these standards is mandatory for many projects. However, some projects allowed an adaptation of the design approach.
It was found that the adaption respectively the tailoring of the design process as prescribed in the ECSS-standards, was driven, when allowed, by risks, costs, and contracting-partners associated with the project.
In order to provide some guidance for future projects the company introduced a project categorization scheme which recommends a suitable approach for each project category.
The analysis of the categorization scheme and the particular consequences for adaptation in the company allow drawing conclusions about the rationale of design process adaptation in practice, thus contributes to the debate on the applicability of design methodologies and generic design process models and provides some ideas for the support of a context dependent adaptation thereof.

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