Engineering.com reached out to 246 designers and engineers in sectors including consumer products, medical equipment, natural resources, automotive, aerospace, manufacturing and other sectors.
The survey found 92% saying that product complexity has increased over the past five years, and 83% had experienced some form of failure around product outcome, whether it was regulatory challenges and unreasonably high costs. Only 15%, however, were using a requirements management system to bring order to their product development.
“Engineers, often in distributed teams, start complex product designs with a stack of product specifications — and the more complex the product, the taller the stack,” Roopinder Tara, director of content at Engineering.com, said in a news release
“In addition, there may be a stack of regulatory requirements. It’s remarkable that engineers, for the most part, do not know about or take advantage of sophisticated requirement management systems to help manage the stacks,” Tara said.
Survey respondents listed several causes for the increased product complexity:
- Mechanical designs — 57%;
- Additional electronics — 47%
- Different materials — 43%;
- Demands for reduced weight — 40%.
More than three-fourths of respondents listed increases in three or more complexity metrics. The situation was even worse in highly regulated industries such as medical equipment.
“Products are becoming more and more complex across industries,” said Scott Roth, CEO of product development platform provider Jama Software.
“Engineering teams are experiencing this firsthand, and this in-depth survey on the current state of product development bears out the repercussions from lost time to market to regulatory fines,” Roth said. “Companies that have invested in platforms with robust requirements management are ahead of the curve and will remain ahead of the competition.”
A copy of the report — “Design Teams: Requirements Management and Product Complexity” — is available for download on Engineering.com.