Research in Engineering Design

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 153–171 | Cite as

Planning development processes for complex products

Original Paper


Efficient planning of design processes is of critical importance to meet tight deadlines and budgets; and the development of process planning tools is a lively research area. This paper describes current planning practice in industry and the challenges associated with it. In industry, a multitude of plans are used in parallel each focussing on a different aspect. The units of planning and their resulting plans roughly fall into product plans considering cost, bill of materials and procurement considerations; process plans including different milestone, lead-times, task and activity plans; and quality plans. Over the course of a project, the same plan can serve as a prescriptive plan defining steps in the process, a target plan against which process is measured, and a record of the process. This paper argues that organisations work because individuals use more than one plan and have a tacit understanding of the relationships between these plans. Variations between different companies are discussed before the paper concludes with a reflection on implication for planning support.


Process planning Empirical studies Complex engineering processes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Design Group, DDEMThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Engineering Design Centre, Department of EngineeringUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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