Design Creep

posted in: Product Reviews | 0

This week is all about getting ready for November. The last productive month of 2011. This is a good time to close some projects and complete any remaining design work. But how can one complete the design if the scope is constantly changing? On Halloween’s Eve, the subject of Design Creep comes to mind. It can be creepy.

But it does not have to be.

Design creep
is a term describing a situation where the scope of a project is constantly changing after the specifications have been set and the project is underway. This is normal and happens even during the simplest of the projects. Yet at some point during the project, design creep has to stop and design freeze has to occur. You may hear in design review meetings that you will never freeze the design. On the contrary, yes, there will be a design freeze when the parts are on order and the product assembly is underway. Once long lead items are being fabricated, you have effectively achieved the final design of your assembly. It’s literally cast in metal, printed on a chip, or CNC-machined. From this point on, the design can only be changed by costly revisions, part rework, and often will result in a subpar product sitting there on the floor as a white elephant.

Conclusions: Minor changes will always happen. As such, the schedules and budgets must adjust upwards to accommodate such changes, unless the product needs to be pushed out the door for aggressive business reasons. In which case the product becomes the never-ending project, supported by a dedicated technical support group. It’s important to communicate the design intent from the beginning of the project, if it’s for the customers’ sole use, or if the product is something that will be constantly revised, recalled or otherwise create more work.

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