This research is aimed at organizing complex design projects in order to perform faster product development. We use a variation of Steward’s design structure matrix [Steward 1981a] to represent both the sequence of and the technical relationships among the many design tasks to be performed. These relationships define the “technical structure” of a design project. We will develop analytical techniques to find alternative sequences and definitions of the design tasks, offering opportunities to speed development progress by improved coordination and information transfer. Our algorithms will consider the technical structure of a project in order to identify which tasks should be resequenced and which tasks should be redefined or split into smaller sub-tasks to avoid development bottlenecks. We will develop these techniques into a strategy for design management which can significantly reduce the overall project complexity by reorganizing the few critical tasks. We expect that this research will benefit not only new design tasks that have never been structured before but also long-standing, often repeated design tasks that may have drifted into poor organizational patterns over many years.

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