How can Product Development Process Modelling be made more useful? An exploration of factors which influence modelling utility

David C Wynn, Anja Maier, John P Clarkson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    A significant body of research exists in the area of Product Development (PD) process modelling. This is highlighted by Browning and Ramasesh (2007), who recently reviewed over 400 papers in this field. However, despite hundreds, probably thousands of publications in this area, few of the proposed methods appear to have been widely accepted by industry as practical approaches to improve PD processes. To improve the attractiveness of process modelling and model-based methods to industry it is thus worthwhile to ask: How is PD process modelling useful, and how can the utility of modelling to industry be improved? In this paper, we analyse PD process modelling ‘utility’ – which in broad terms we consider to be the degree to which a model-based approach or modelling intervention benefits practice. We view the utility of modelling as a composite property which depends both on the properties of models and on the way they are applied. The paper draws upon established principles of cybernetic systems in an attempt to explain the role played by process modelling in operating and improving PD processes. We use this framework to identify eight key factors which influence the utility of modelling in the context of use. Further, we indicate how these factors can be interpreted to identify opportunities to improve modelling utility. The paper is organised as follows. Section 2 provides background and motivation for the paper by discussing an example of PD process modelling practice. After highlighting from a practical perspective the main research questions considered in the paper, Section 3 outlines our choice of a theoretical/analytical approach to explore them. Section 4 begins the analysis by arguing that the utility of modelling, as understood herein, depends on interactions between the model, the modeller, and the process being modelled. Section 5 draws upon established principles of cybernetic systems theory to incorporate this view in an explanation of the role of modelling in PD process operation and improvement. This framework is used to define modelling utility and to progressively identify influences upon it. Section 6 summarises and reflects upon the implications of for researchers and practitioners in PD process modelling. Section 7 concludes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication11th International Design Conference : Design 2010
    Publication date2010
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event11th International Design Conference - Cavtat-Dubrivnik, Croatia
    Duration: 17 May 201020 May 2010


    Conference11th International Design Conference
    Internet address


    • Design process model
    • Cybernetics
    • Modelling utility
    • Process modelling
    • Design


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