Reviews -- staying on track, keeping everyone informed,
and addressing everyone's interests.
I will gladly
participate in design reviews even if I have not previously been
involved in the project. This occasionally comes up in cases where
there is difficulty attaining EMC compliance or required performance
in the face of interference.
are an important activity during any product development. The form
they take is as varied as the organizations themselves. Even within
one organization the form generally varies from project to project
or from team to team. The form is not as much the issue as the fact
that a periodic review is conducted in a manner that satisfies the
requirements of all concerned.
Here is my
take on reviews, but with flexibility being the key point in consulting
I am keenly aware that "The Customer is Always Right"
I have seen
reviews conducted with incredible structure and procedure; almost
ceremoniously. I have also seen reviews conducted in a more ad hock
fashion; sometimes between two or three people over lunch. I have
seen both succeed and I have seen both fail.
involved in many reviews of many types over the years one thing
has become very clear. You don't work right up to the time for the
review and then walk into the conference room to conduct a review.
To be an effective and respectful use of everyone's time a review
deserves some preparation; some time to put information into a format
that is useful for all involved. That doesn't mean you spend 40
hours producing a professional slide show (unless the project is
of that magnitude and most aren't), but schematic fragments and
partial bills-of-materials on post-it notes generally don't present
really serve two functions.
- They are
an opportunity to critique the design progress for its' technical
merit and viability.
- They are
also an opportunity to bring the entire cross-functional team
together to address issues that are peripherally related to the
technical aspects of the design; an opportunity for purchasing,
manufacturing, test, marketing, sales, service, and others to
see how the project is progressing so they can have their interests
addressed and make their individual plans for support of the project.
These two functions
don't necessarily have to be included in every review. Since everyone
involved has work to do, and schedules to meet, most people don't
want to spend non-productive time in meetings, e.g. marketing department
personnel will likely find a four hour discussion of technical issues
a waste of their time and conversely production test engineers will
likely have the same problem with a lengthy discussion about philosophies
of the introduction of the product into the existing customer base
and its' expected effect on sales of current products.
this can be avoided by conducting several mini-reviews with focus
groups of similar interests and then feeding the salient points
of each mini-review to all concerned. Depending on the scope of
the project these mini-reviews can be scheduled on a weekly basis
with an overall review conducted on a bi-weekly basis. Given what
I've just stated I do believe that everyone involved with the project
should be aware of the occurrence of all the mini-reviews and be
allowed to attend at their discretion.
The point here,
is this method of conducting reviews tries to be respectful of everyone's
time to every degree possible, but it does not intend to exclude
anyone from any of the meetings. This does require a project engineer/manager
to be very active and they will probably be in meetings of some
sort every day.