Written by Alison Sickelka

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Design Review: Part 3

Today is the day. Stratus Aerospace is holding their first of several Design Review sessions that will freeze product design and lead to production. All the functional areas—including engineering, manufacturing, service, and suppliers—gather to review the design, compare it to Stratus Aero’s initial business case, evaluate costs, and ultimately freeze the design. Each department brings a slide deck between 30-70 slides long containing product design screenshots, notes, and questions for the greater team. At least one of the following scenarios may occur:

  • One department didn’t have the most up-to-date version of the product design, so they will have to go back and make changes.
  • One department indicates that the costs to produce the design are different than the initial estimates.
  • One department indicates that customer requirements have changed, so the design must be updated to reflect new needs
  • One department questions a design decision. Without a traceable communication thread, teams start second guessing the design and undergo rework. 

Over the course of the next several weeks, the teams shuffle information around, try to clear up any confusion from missing or out-of-date information, and finalize design changes. The design is eventually frozen, but it won’t propel Stratus Aero ahead of the competition’s timelines. Although the leadership team restricted the development timeline, the different teams weren’t set up to succeed due to their collaboration limitations. 

Check out the first part of this series

If Stratus Aero’s teams could easily collaborate cross-functionally in the months leading up to the formal Design Reviews, they could have hit their goals. Let’s rewind the clock a year and show what happens if everyone across the extended enterprise has the information they need instantly to make decisions quickly and with confidence.

How Design Engineering Prepares For The Design Reviews

In the first run-through of the process, had minimal collaboration with procurement and the supply chain due to technology limitations. They wasted time loading and preparing  3D information because there wasn’t an easy way to share with their teams. And intensive hardware and software devices kept engineers tethered to their desks. 

This time around, engineers aren’t constrained by limiting hardware or software. Instead, they move forward with a lightweight, cloud-based app. Rather than wasting 10 hours a week preparing and sharing models, Stratus Aero’s engineers quickly upload, filter, and share designs with procurement and the supply chain in minutes, only sharing exactly what they want to share. The new collaborative process allows individuals to pin questions and comments directly to specific geometry, or upload new design recommendations. Everyone can look at the same model concurrently without a “check in/check out” process. Weeks of time are cut down to days, and in some cases hours. Most importantly, engineers always have access to the latest model with traceability into when and why changes happened. 

How Procurement Prepares For The Design Reviews

In this scenario, engineering can easily filter out a specific view using metadata and component filtering to create a simple view for procurement. After quickly sharing, procurement now has access to the 3D model and related product information without wasting time in a training room or writing justifications for PLM access. They never have to worry about whether they have the most up-to-date version because the product design stays connected as changes happen. Now, procurement drives meaningful, interactive conversations between the supply chain and engineering to select the best partners for the job weeks, even months, earlier.

How Suppliers Prepare For The Design Reviews

With easy access to 3D models and designs, the supply chain finally collaborates closely with Stratus Aero’s engineering team to develop truly innovative designs. Instead of being handed a list of requirements, the supply chain can easily see a 3D design in the context that Stratus Aero’s engineering team provides. As suppliers become trusted partners, not transactional relationships, product quality increases and development accelerates. 

How Manufacturing And Service Prepare For The Design Reviews

No longer tapping their feet, manufacturing and service have access to designs and models in the early months of product development. Analyzing fit, form, and function in current builds, these teams add comments and point out flaws and areas for improvement in engineering’s designs, greatly reducing the risk of changes after The Design Reviews.

How IT And Leadership Prepare For The Design Reviews

Finally, IT and management greatly reduce costs and resource needs without expensive hardware and software. Management is quickly engaged in critical decision-making without wasting time getting up to speed. They don’t have to run training classes or hire support staff to help out Stratus Aero’s teams. Instead, IT can focus on other mission-critical activities.

Streamlined Collaboration Leads To Shorter Development Lifecycles

Now that Stratus Aero has gained the ability to smoothly and seamlessly collaborate with anybody they need to on aligned product visuals, what do The Design Reviews look like? Whereas before, teams were struggling to meet their 12-month deadline and scrambling to collaborate with cross-functional areas throughout development, they now easily share information and collaborate seamlessly. It’s easy to meet the 12-month deadline, and in fact are prepared to begin the design freeze milestone in July, a full four months earlier than ever before. 

In this scenario, Stratus Aero easily hits their goal of shortening the design lifecycle and surpass their profitability targets. The ability to share information with different teams made all the difference in this process. 

This doesn’t just have to be a blog story. This can be made into reality for any manufacturer. The Vertex collaboration platforms allows for:

  • Early ideation, increased innovation, reduced design risks
  • An easy, fast, and secure way to collaborate throughout the extended enterprise
  • Increased quality of decisions, connected cross-functional teams
About Alison Sickelka

Alison Sickelka has worked with product teams for over a decade, in both business and product roles. Currently, Alison oversees product management at Vertex Software. Alison and her team work across the organization and with customers to ensure Vertex discovers and delivers valuable solutions to market that customers love.

Alison has been at the cross-section of business and technology throughout her career, and enjoys spending time understanding customer needs and then working with engineering and stakeholders to develop new solutions to solve those needs. Prior to joining Vertex, Alison served as senior product manager at SpotX where she worked with leadership to shape the product roadmap, identified new market opportunities, and drove projects from inception to launch.

Alison holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Iowa State University and a master's degree in media management from The New School.