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A Structured approach to predicting and managing technical interactions in software development

Author: Sosa, Manuel E. INSEAD Area: Technology and Operations ManagementIn: Research in Engineering Design, vol. 19, no. 1, March 2008 Language: EnglishDescription: p. 47-70.Type of document: INSEAD ArticleNote: Please ask us for this itemAbstract: One of the most difficult challenges of managing product development is identifying the individuals who need to coordinate closely their interdependencies during the design process. ‘‘Who should talk to whom?’’ and ‘‘Which interfaces should they talk about?’’ are key questions that engineering managers must address when planning and executing product development efforts. In this paper, I introduce the notion of the affiliation matrix to map the product architecture onto the organizational structure and predict potential technical communication patterns. By comparing potential interactions with actual communications, engineering managers can uncover product interfaces and organizational interactions that may require special managerial action during the design phase of development processes. This provides an integrated view of how process, product, and organizational structures align themselves when developing new products. I illustrate the implementation of this approach in a software development organization, which offers relevant insights about the challenges associated with managing new software development.
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One of the most difficult challenges of managing product development is identifying the individuals who need to coordinate closely their interdependencies during the design process. ‘‘Who should talk to whom?’’ and ‘‘Which interfaces should they talk about?’’ are key questions that engineering managers must address when planning and executing product development efforts. In this paper, I introduce the notion of the affiliation matrix to map the product architecture onto the organizational structure and predict potential technical communication patterns. By comparing potential interactions with actual communications, engineering managers can uncover product interfaces and organizational interactions that may require special managerial action during the design phase of development processes. This provides an integrated view of how process, product, and organizational structures align themselves when developing new products. I illustrate the implementation of this approach in a software development organization, which offers relevant insights about the challenges associated with managing new software development.

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