THE BENFITS AND PITFALLS OF DIGITAL DESIGN TOOLS
DS 68-10: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 11), Impacting Society through Engineering Design, Vol. 10: Design Methods and Tools pt. 2, Lyngby/Copenhagen, Denmark, 15.-19.08.2011
Digital design has become pervasive to all aspects of the development process. The potential benefits of digital design include rapid iterations, the development of quick prototypes, and the ability of the team to virtually model entire systems without expensive physical prototypes. Digital design has now migrated to the beginning of the development process during ideation and conceptual design. Through empirical and case-base research we report on the challenges and opportunities of employing digital design early. We find that digital design can lead to back-loading, a condition in which digital design can short-cut valuable conceptual iteration. We also find that the integration of digital design into the development process needs to maintain distinct phases and firms must maintain a balance of creative iteration with process discipline. Finally, we find that there is a direct correlation between firm R&D efficiency and their strategy for IT infrastructure, process discipline, and use of digital design support tools.