Applying the design structure matrix to system decomposition and integration problems: a review and new directions

T.R. Browning
2001 IEEE transactions on engineering management  
Systems engineering of products, processes, and organizations requires tools and techniques for system decomposition and integration. A design structure matrix (DSM) provides a simple, compact, and visual representation of a complex system that supports innovative solutions to decomposition and integration problems. The advantages of DSMs vis-à-vis alternative system representation and analysis techniques have led to their increasing use in a variety of contexts, including product development,
more » ... roject planning, project management, systems engineering, and organization design. This paper reviews two types of DSMs, static and time-based DSMs, and four DSM applications: 1) Component-Based or Architecture DSM, useful for modeling system component relationships and facilitating appropriate architectural decomposition strategies; 2) Team-Based or Organization DSM, beneficial for designing integrated organization structures that account for team interactions; 3) Activity-Based or Schedule DSM, advantageous for modeling the information flow among process activities; and 4) Parameter-Based (or low-level schedule) DSM, effective for integrating low-level design processes based on physical design parameter relationships. A discussion of each application is accompanied by an industrial example. The review leads to conclusions regarding the benefits of DSMs in practice and barriers to their use. The paper also discusses research directions and new DSM applications, both of which may be approached with a perspective on the four types of DSMs and their relationships. Index Terms-Design structure matrix, information flow, integration analysis, modularity, organization design, product architecture, product development, project management, project planning, scheduling, systems engineering. Tyson R. Browning received the B.S. degree in engineering physics from Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX, and two M.S. degrees and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in technology, management and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. He is currently a Senior Project Manager in the Enterprise Productivity Strategy Group, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, TX. In this position, he applies Lean thinking to help determine continuous improvement strategy, especially for processes such as product development, and also serves as a point of contact with university and government research on Lean. He also provides internal consulting and conducts applied research on engineering and enterprise process development. Previously, he worked with the Lean Aerospace Initiative at MIT, conducting research at Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Boeing, Raytheon, Sundstrand, and Daimler Chrysler. Several of his papers on organizational integration, risk management, the design structure matrix, and process modeling have been published and are forthcoming.
doi:10.1109/17.946528 fatcat:wcxzae23kzewxcnm4om47fz7ta