Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

12.2 Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE) for Small Teams

The ICE approach described in Section 12.1.1 and 12.1.2 applies to teams of 15 to several hundred people; assuming the large teams are organized into smaller IPTs of 10 to 25 people. The design command centers can be shared by many individual teams on a development project because each team uses the center for only a half day at a time and for only three to ten days a month typically. Some system developments can be accomplished with smaller teams of five to ten people. Whereas small teams can also use the same design command center and concept of operations as larger teams an alternative approach may be even more efficient.
Work spaces for most organizations use individual cubicles or cubicles shared by two or three people. Most of these work spaces are modular and can easily be reconfigured. For example suppose a project has six or seven workers each in his/her cubicle. Typically, workers are assigned cubicles without consideration of where others working on the same projects are located. Much of the communication takes place via emails or periodic meetings in a conference area. Figure 12-3 shows how a space of eight cubicles can be rearranged to colocate seven workers and a conference table. Collocating workers as shown in Figure 12-3 enables continuous face to face interactions to replace emails and periodic meetings in conference rooms. Research has shown that problems are solved much faster by groups communicating face to face compared to groups communicating via email. That is to be expected because the information latency in face to face communications is almost instantaneous whereas it is many seconds or even hours with email.
It increases productivity to have two workers with related skills close enough together that they can see each other’s computer screens and discuss what is on the screen without moving from their work positions. Examples include mechanical and thermal engineers or mechanical engineers and designers skilled in mechanical CAD tools that are supporting the engineers.
If the team leader is collocated with the rest of the team so that he/she can facilitate an ICE process then dramatic reductions in project cost and design time should be realized just as it is for larger teams using ICE. A caution is that team dynamics are more important for collocated teams than for teams in individual cubicles. Teams must be comprised of individuals who work well together or else productivity suffers. Workers who perform better as individual contributors are likely better left in their own cubicle. It is also advisable to provide training so that the workers understand why they are being asked to give up the privacy of individual cubicles.

 Figure 12-3 Individual cubicles can be rearranged to form a space allowing a team of four to eight to see each other’s computer screens and exchange information without moving from their work station.

No comments:

Post a Comment