What is your „Design Process“ ?

Praondevou your James Bond trivia knowledge need a brush-up. Blofeld was one of the first generation James Bond baddies, who emerged as the enemy of the free world not long after Goldfinger met his match.

Oh how I pine for the good old days of yore when women were obliged to wear bikinis at all times..... oh sorry, this isn't the off-topic forum.
 

Thread Starter

Blofeld

Joined Feb 21, 2010
83
I do not care for the first statement in the flow chart on the web link “Educate the Customer”.

It makes it sound that the customer is stupid. It should read “What are the customers’ requirements and needs”. Then you can explain (not educate) to the customer what you can do to bring the design to life. Hold design reviews with the customers to make sure that you are in agreement with each other at different phases of his or her design.
Maybe the phrase "Educate the Customer" can be (mis-)understood in such a way as you suggested. But if you click on the box to see the corresponding text (here is the direct link: http://www.williamson-labs.com/ltoc/design-body.htm#educate-the-customer ) I think it becomes clear that this was not at all Williamson's intention.

In fact when I first saw the flow chart, what Williamson had to say about the Customer / Designer relation was one of the things I liked the most. Other nice features are that it is "fun to read" (no formal language) and, as ErnieM has noted in post 17, that it emphasizes the iterative nature of the design process. But after reading your sentence "Hold design reviews with the customers to make sure that you are in agreement with each other at different phases of his or her design." I realized that this is indeed missing from the chart.

In the flow chart, the customer is mentioned in the very first box "Educate the Customer" (this is good) and the next time -after the prototype is tested and debugged- in the "Ask the customer" box (this is too late). For medium- to large-scale projects there should be design reviews at different phases as you have suggested. For small projects there may be an agreement that, after the designer has understood the customers requirement, they will meet again when the designer can demonstrate a working prototype. However, this only holds as long as everything is fine according to the agreed schedule !

It is absolutely mandatory that the designer constantly re-evaluates the situation and asks the question whether he can meet the customers requirements within the agreed schedule and cost. If the answer is "no", he has to contact the customer immediately. It is very damaging for the Customer / Designer relation if the customer is kept in the dark and only learns that the project is in trouble after "interrogating" the designer.

The reason why I stress this point is that I myself have violated this rule and have seen colleagues do the same. This was as an employee without direct involvement of a customer, but the underlying problem is the same. I think that even an honest and reasonably competent person can be tempted to "muddle through the situation" if problems arise and to hope that somehow a miracle will bring the project back on track and that there is no need to confess the problems to anybody. In 99% this will only make things worse. So I think that adding (at least) one decision point "Project feasible and on schedule ?" would be important.
 

ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,171
I do not care for the first statement in the flow chart on the web link “Educate the Customer”.
Your customer is always VERY SMART as he picked YOU to do his task and take him money. That is not to say he is never ignorant. Someone who si smart but ignorant can and should be educated.

Once I had to fly NY to CA to meet with a customer, several engineers and managers vs ME. Took me not half an hour to explain how our product worked and how to put our product inside their system.

Suddenly several requirements we could never meet went away, and we quickly produced a custom sensor using our traditional techniques.
 
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