Design for reuse for electronics: Differences between product and project development
There are two ends to the spectrum of thinking about how and when to reuse artifacts during product development. One end of the spectrum is to begin the process by designing for reuse. The other end of the spectrum is not developing for reuse at all and then reengineering the artifacts later to reuse.
The goal of reuse is to reduce cost and improve efficiency in product development. For software designers to reduce costs, they must build an architecture with common core assets.
There are two different ways that an organization can structure teams of people to achieve both of those goals:
Product line development
In product line development, resources are assigned initially to create an architecture by building a set of reusable core assets. Then the assets are used as needed to derive the products with variations. The focus is on the best allocation of resources to complete the product line. The intent is not on building a whole product but rather building pieces of it first. Small teams use the architecture and combine the assets to build specific products with defined variants. This process works well in industries such as consumer electronics, where there are several different models of a product.
Unfortunately, this type of resource allocation does not work well for some organizations, such as those that are billing to a contract. In a contract situation, the customer expects the resources to be assigned to their project. Customers want to know how many billable hours people spent on the project and how many reusable assets are used from past projects. They realize this is important for them to get a better price.
Project line development
In project line development, the resources are dedicated to finish a project. The problem is that to win future bids, the company needs reusable assets. In this scenario, a large group works on completing a project, and the small groups take assets from the project to build reusable components. These reusable components can then be used in future projects, thus lowering the bid submitted to the prospective customer.
In both ways of working, you are building reusable assets and variants on those assets. The next post on this topic will cover planned versus unplanned variations and how they affect product and project lines.
Find out more about IBM Rational solutions for electronics.
About the authors
Martin Bakal, Worldwide Offering Manager - Electronics Industry, IBM Rational software
Joanne Scouler, Curriculum Architect - Rational Systems Training, IBM Software Group, Rational software