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

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1 Author(s)
T. R. Browning ; Lockheed Martin Aeronaut. Co., Fort Worth, TX, USA

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-a-vis alternative system representation and analysis techniques have led to their increasing use in a variety of contexts, including product development; project 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

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 3 )