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Cross-functional Co-operation for Improved Product Development: A Case Study (Management Project)

The purpose of this project is to identify and analyze relevant dimensions of cooperation between design and production related to product development. The study also focuses on suggesting improvements of the co-operation dimensions between production departments and the product development departments in the Product Development Process (PDP) at Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery AB (SIT AB).

SIT AB produces gas and steam turbines. Their increasing production pace and increasing number of product development projects have highlighted the importance of improved co-operations between departments within the company. We have developed an analysis model including the dimensions of co-operation we found relevant for the study. These are Timing of Upstream – Downstream Activities; Richness & Quality of Information; Frequency of Information Transmission; Direction of Communication; Formalization of Communication; Organizational Support; Goal Optimization; Attitudes in Cross-functional Teams; and Understanding of Tasks.

For product development SIT AB follows an extensive process; the PDP. This is a sequential process where all activities are performed in sequence and therefore it obstructs the implementation of Concurrent Engineering. Concurrent Engineering aims to shorten development time and to consider the total job as a whole by performing independent activities in parallel. Hence, we argue that SIT AB should work toward a more integrated process with more parallel activities.

The performance in all the dimensions of co-operation differ between large and small projects since the co-operation in large projects work much better than in small projects due to better followed process description; more face-to-face discussions; a better balance between informal and formal communication; and more focus on project goals and team building.

The improvement proposals are presented in a separate chapter as actions classified according to the potential impact on the organization and the estimated difficulty to implement them. The proposals include for example: training more project managers; initiate work shop practice for design engineers; and give more and better explanations of decisions and actions.
Author: Alriksson, Maria | Aronsson, Lina
Source: Linköping University

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