PRODUCT ARCHITECTURE EXPLORATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
Complex products that involve multiple subsystems benefit greatly from early architecture explorations that can identify functional interdependencies and assess multiple options for the system design.
For instance, when designing a low power device, it is critical to understand all of the various use modes of the device, and how often each of those modes is expected to be active. Once those requirements are clearly articulated, the firmware and electrical engineers need to work together to consider power management design options. The high-level design options can then be considered and weighted against the set of prioritized requirements. In addition, this architectural work will usually surface any conflicts within the requirements and can be used to generate the information required for the product owner to make informed tradeoffs to achieve their highest priority product goals.
Planning, designing, and developing a new product can often present an exciting yet daunting proposition. Starting with a clearly articulated Product Requirements Document (PRD) is instrumental, allowing the team to flesh out intended uses and refine the user needs. From these, the high-level technical requirements for the product can be defined. (For more on developing requirements, see “Simplexity’s PRD whitepaper with editable companion template”.
Architecture explorations are optimally started very early in the design process. This is the first level of design. Once made, architectural decisions set the path for product development and are very costly to change after the fact. Alternative architectures and iteration of the architecture is to be expected during early exploratory discussions before detailed design engineering really starts. The deliverables from an architecture exploration vary based on the type of product that is being designed but can include rough CAD models of mechanical design options, a selection of critical electrical technologies or specific components, and documentation of the system behaviors that will be later implemented in software or firmware.
A couple examples of product architecture explorations and prototyping can be found here:
- Working with Bio1 Systems to prove out a prototype for an electronic tactical combat casualty care ID tag to expedite patient medical care.
- Providing Aivot with systems and mechanical engineering to complete their prototype of an AI-based general-purpose robot.
Once completed, the key decisions made in the architectural design allow the technical product requirements to be translated into detailed part and subsystem specifications.
In these early stages, it’s critical to remain flexible and in close contact with regular client checkpoints to ensure that, as requirements are developed and refined, architecture and supporting technologies meet updated requirements.
It is also often common for client requirements to be adapted once design is under way. It’s vital for clients and their design partners to stay in close contact with each other so that clients can prioritize as they learn more about their market and end customer needs.
A SYSTEM LEVEL APPROACH
One major advantage in Simplexity’s system level approach to design is that we design using our understanding of and experience in managing all the disciplines that are needed to build a cohesive, efficiently designed, high-quality product. Our team’s extensive experience working collaboratively across internal engineering disciplines, with client engineering teams and with other outside engineering partners, results in effectively navigating product architecture challenges.
For more on this topic:
- Developing a Product Requirements Document Whitepaper
- What the Past Teaches us About Optimal Product Development: The Study of Goal Definitions and Managing Hierarchical Systems Trade-offs
- How To Design Low Power Devices
Simplexity’s clients rely on our experienced design engineering teams to deliver thoughtful, well-engineered designs, which start with smart product architectures. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you with your next project. We look forward to hearing from you soon!