by Dr. Dirk Ortloff
Dirk Ortloff1, Jens Popp1, Thilo
Schmidt2 and Mielke Matthias2
2University of Siegen Institute of Microsystem
Requirements for Product
Inclusion of Marketing
Early and Stable Product
Requirements for Project
Deliverable Oriented Process and
Minimum Management Overhead and
Conclusions and Future Work
Product engineering of micro and nano technology (MNT) devices differs
substantially from product engineering in more traditional industries. The
general approach is mostly bottom up, as it centres around the available
fabrication techniques. The strong emphasis on manufacturing technology leads to
a large number of application specific fabrication processes. For a
comprehensive product engineering (PE) approach, the customer (as purchaser of
the desired devices) has to have control over the specification and design flow.
The customer is the only party capable of driving the product engineering
process. He/she defines the technical requirements and economical constraints
according to his/her interest in a successful product.
Within the EU FP7 project CORONA a comprehensive PE methodology in
combination with a supporting software tool framework is currently under
development. To determine the requirements for both methodology and tool
framework, a detailed analysis of currently existing models and methodologies
employed in the MNT-industry has been performed.
This paper presents the results of the requirement analysis for the product
In recent years, the demand for MNT (micro and nano technology) products has
grown rapidly and is expanding quickly into new market segments1. Today development is performed in globally distributed
organizations. In combination with tighter budgets and shorter time to market,
this demands a more efficient product engineering approach. Different
application areas, the variety of manufacturing technologies and the
considerable number of small and medium sized companies makes a cooperative,
globally distributed development approach common in the MNT industry.
The development of the geometric device design and the corresponding
manufacturing steps are highly interdependent in MNT products (i.e.
manufacturing processes are generally application specific). While in
electronics the electrical material and device properties are paramount, in MNT
devices the mechanical and electrical material properties determine the device
performance and are therefore very important. Additionally, vertical layer
properties require tighter control and therefore the interdependence of the
device design and the exact manufacturing recipe is high in MNT.
Due to these higher degrees of freedom and the higher interdependencies
between the different disciplines in MNT design, a comprehensive product
engineering (PE) approach has to involve the customer and his requirements on a
very detailed level. This can be achieved best if the customer is in control of
the complete development process because only he know the exact specifications
and the intended device application. Therefore the customer interactions with
the development organizations and the development method itself need to be
interwoven into the product engineering process. This integration of the
customer in the MNT business is depicted in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Hierarchical
model of the MNT business
The CORONA project financed under the 7th Research Framework by the European
Union (contract number CP-FP 213969-2) has the goal to develop a comprehensive
PE methodology in combination with a supporting software tool framework. The
project partners represent different roles within the product engineering chain,
presented in Figure 2, (e.g. integrated device manufacturer, pure foundry,
fabless design house, research and development institute) and cover the
currently prevalent business models3 encountered in
the MNT industry.
Figure 2. Supply chain
and Business models in MNT
The requirement analysis for the methodology follows a double tracked
approach. The first track is a top-down analysis of currently existing models
and methodologies. This includes general project management methods and product
development model methods in literature4, and the
often very specific methods currently employed in the MNT industry. The second
track is a bottom up analysis of the typical business cases in the MNT industry.
For this reason the business cases and processes of the partners involved in the
CORONA project have been reviewed. This has been achieved by performing detailed
interviews within these companies.
The combined results of both tracks lead to a set of concrete requirements
for MNT product engineering. These requirements are described in the remainder
of this paper. First, the general boundary constraints and the motivation for
introducing a formal product engineering methodology are highlighted. This is
followed by more detailed requirements for product development and project
To define and extract the requirements for the methodology development, it is
useful to look at the motivation to introduce and to use a methodology in the
first place. Answering the questions: "What is product engineering (PE) all
about?" and "What distinguishes PE from research?" offers some insight. The
answers to these questions can be summarized in the following points:
- Predefined time and budget limitations
- Activities focused on actual "product"
- Focus on reproducibility and quality
- Predictability of the development progress and process
- Focus on deliverables and the business case
Taking these requirements for development into account, it becomes clear that
a thorough and flexible methodology needs to be established. The processes of
such a methodology need to be rather flexible. They must provide a framework for
execution that can be amended and merged with the processes already established
within an adopting organization. The baseline for the framework should be a
combination of a product development and a project management methodology. The
product development method provides guidelines for target deliverables and the
general steps as to how to progress the product development (the strategic goals
and procedures). The project management method supplements this with the
tactical procedures needed. Enriched with quality aspects and tools, a
comprehensive, yet flexible methodology framework can be derived.
As mentioned above, the customer is most likely the only entity in a
development process that has a clear understanding of all functional,
technological and financial constraints of the intended product. Putting the
customer in control of the product engineering process can therefore lead to
more streamlined product development as market and quality requirements are
The interview results show that the current involvement of the customer in
the analyzed business cases is limited to the product specification phase. From
then on the customer is only passively involved and updated with regular status
reports. If a customer wishes to be more involved in the process obstacles and
difficulties arise, because the current PE methodologies do not support such an
extended involvement, and strict IP protection regulations prevent access to
necessary design and manufacturing data.
To enable customer involvement in more phases of product development, the
currently applied methodologies have to be augmented by new procedures. The most
important requirement for these procedures is that they must not disrupt
successful and well established work flows.
Equally important is to ensure that quality aspects of the project are
covered. These largely depend on the products' application area, therefore, a
flexible approach to integrating customer specific quality requirements is
The results of the interviews which were conducted recommend establishing a
link between standardized methods like Stage-Gate, IPPD, PRINCE2 and PMBOK, and
the methods specific to the project partner's environments. This link is
especially important as the new methodology should not overthrow existing
approaches but rather complement them with best practices. Another requirement
of the methodology is that it must provide guidelines to organizations that have
no or very limited experience in MNT product engineering, as the typical
customer is most likely to belong to this group.
Minimum interference is one of the most important requirements for the
further development of the methodology (framework). A possible solution is to
offer a set of lean business processes (resp. modules), instead of one
monolithic methodology. These processes will not be very detailed but they must
provide a framework for individual adoption and amendment. All newly proposed or
amended processes should therefore be as lightweight and flexible as possible.
This also impacts on the requirements of the software framework that has to
provide small and flexible services to support these processes.
Requirements for Product Development
The interview results assert the initial assumption that the product
development approach in the MNT industry is almost completely process based. All
approaches employed by the interviewees have in common that they start with a
product idea that is refined through several consecutive development steps until
the final product is ready for market launch. The following requirements have
been identified as essential:
- Quality of Execution
- Product Development Quality
- Resource Prioritization
- Inclusion of Marketing Tasks
- Early and Stable Product Specification
- Parallel Processing
- Cross-Functional Teams
Quality of Execution
Product development in the MNT industry depends on a very high level of
quality in every development step. An appropriate product development
methodology therefore requires distinguished quality-control checkpoints with
clear and consistent metrics. Such intermediate checkpoints are based on best
practices or direct customer requirements. Due to the variety of MNT product
areas, these checkpoints need to be defined individually for each product during
product specification. The checkpoints comprise of concrete deliverables, along
with action standards and corresponding resource allocation methods.
In this context the methodology has to ensure that no deliverables are
skipped, or quality criteria are ignored. In classic product development
methodologies, these checkpoints are usually referred to as gates5. These gates are placed between the development phases and
become quality-control checkpoints. According to Ref #5 these
points are a key success factor for reduced cycle time and successful product
Product Development Quality
According to the "Quality of execution" requirement above, it is necessary to
define procedures that guide through the flexible adaption of the fabrication
process and to manage it in a collaborative way. To be able to change
fabrication processes "on demand", an additional toolset is necessary.
The resources for product development are usually limited (e.g. budget,
personnel, equipment). Therefore, methods to prioritize development efforts have
to be part of the product engineering methodology. The prioritization of
development efforts requires close customer interaction. This is especially true
if prioritization means abandoning a certain development effort altogether. For
such a case, processes should enable the customer to replace development
partners if necessary.
Inclusion of Marketing Tasks
Marketing is an essential part of each product engineering process and
includes tasks like preliminary market assessments, competitive analysis,
concept testing, and of course very close customer interaction. If the customer
is directly involved in (or as proposed, driving) the PE- process there must be
a clear distinction between marketing efforts to keep the customer satisfied and
preparations to make the product successful. For the marketable product, broad
customer tests and field trials, test marketing and test launches etc. are
required. Even the use of focus groups, customer panels etc. might be advisable
to develop a product that really fits market needs. These activities need to
start during product definition and have to continue during the whole PE
Early and Stable Product Specification
The product and requirements definition must be stable in the early product
development phases as it provides the technological and legal baseline for all
further development steps. A stable definition contains a mutual agreement
between all involved parties (e.g. vendor, customer, R&D) regarding the
requirements, features etc. This implies that the development target has been
clearly defined. It does not mean though, that the results of the R&D
process will exactly match the initial specification because usually there will
be certain adaptations. Therefore a controlled change management process is
required that coordinates necessary changes and keeps all stakeholders, and
especially the customer, informed.
The early specification is one of the central steps in product engineering
for customer interaction and therefore central to any customer driven
developments. The product specification should cover aspects like target market,
development and product concept, benefits and positioning strategy, requirements
(functional and non-functional), and product features. Finally, the estimated
production costs must be controlled during the whole process. At every gate (see
quality of execution), the business plan / business case needs to be reviewed.
The option of reducing production and/or development costs by (slight)
modifications of the specification must always be monitored.
A MNT product usually consists of several physical components (e.g. the
package, the fabrication process, the electrical- and non-electrical elements).
A huge speedup of the development process can be achieved if these components
are developed in parallel. In fact it is not acceptable to develop the different
parts of a MEMS product one after another because of the interrelationship
between the different components, sequential development would cause
unacceptably long development periods. These interrelationships are also the
main challenge for parallel development of the components, e.g. the development
of the non-electrical part depends on the development of the fabrication process
and vice versa. Therefore, flexible definition of control points for the
exchange of intermediate results between development teams is essential. The
methodology should foster this.
Developing MNT products requires expertise in many different fields. The
required expertise may also change during the development process. Layout
expertise, for example, may only be required in late development phases.
Therefore fluid teams, with new members added or dropped as work demands are
required. As indicated above, the cross-functional nature of a development team
is not only necessary within the technical teams; it must contain all functions
essential for the product development. This includes, marketing, financial,
sales, production, purchasing etc.
Requirements for Project Management
Before defining the requirements for project management, it should be made
clear how the term "project" is defined in the current scope. A project is
defined as a temporary and unique endeavour that is conducted in progressive
elaboration using several steps or increments. Temporary in this context means
that it has a defined beginning and end and can have a short or a long duration.
A project has a lasting outcome addressing a business need with a well defined
In addition, the results have a potentially limited market opportunity window
and a project team which is disbanded at the end of the endeavour. It is unique
in the sense that another project of the same entity will not have the same
products, services or results. In this context it is important to distinguish
between projects and operations. Operations are ongoing and repetitive and have
the purpose of sustaining business.
All projects depend on critical success factors like executive support,
user/customer involvement, experience of the project manager, clear business
objectives, minimized scope, well defined requirements, formal methodology to
follow, reliable estimates, etc. Projects are executed within the triple
constraints depicted in Figure 37. The advantages of
formal project management can be summarized as:
- Better control of financial, physical, and human resources.
- Improved customer relations.
- Shorter development times.
- Lower costs.
- Higher quality and increased reliability.
- Higher profit margins.
- Improved productivity.
- Better internal coordination.
- Higher working morale (less stress).
Figure 3. Triple
To achieve the above goals and advantages, incorporated project management
principles should comply with the following requirements. As indicated in the
motivation, the project management principles are only a subcomponent of the
overall product development method. It provides "only" guidelines and
streamlines the execution. Therefore the project management principles that are
adopted must comply with the requirements described for the product development
method and must be supplemented with execution advice.
They need to comply with the following list of requirements:
- Process Based Approach
- Deliverable Oriented Process and Planning
- Minimum Management Overhead and Interference
Process Based Approach
The overall development efforts need to be driven by a defined, flexible
business process offering advice for all potential development situations.
Therefore, a utility box in terms of processes and tools needs to be provided,
driving the development from the idea / customer request to a final product
(which could be tangible or intangible as highlighted in the introduction).
Deliverable Oriented Process and Planning
To focus on the targets and the intermediate steps in between, a deliverable
oriented development process and planning approach is desired. The completeness
and the quality of the deliverables provide measures for intermediate assessment
points during the development. They provide criteria for the possible
prioritization of different projects (as stated in the description of the
requirement for the product development process). Additionally a quality driven
approach is enabled by making the project progress assessable.
Minimum Management Overhead and Interference
To allow for an efficient process, the induced overheads for the management
of the projects should be minimized. Additionally the interaction with the
stakeholders of the project should be optimized but kept as minimal as possible.
Heavy reporting burdens and further necessities for management interaction
should be prevented.
The project management principle and process needs to foster transparency
concerning the status of the project, to all stakeholders. Therefore, it should
provide means to effectively communicate the status, open issues, risks etc. and
provide transparent assessment criteria during the development. This provides
for easy auditing and quality assurance as well.
Conclusions and Future Work
This paper gives an overview of the requirements for a comprehensive approach
to product engineering in the area of MEMS and similar nano or micro devices. It
documents the first steps towards the support of a globally distributed,
information-based product development method controlled by the customer and
tailored to the MEMS/MST industry. The requirements indicate the use of a
combination of methods from the product development realm defining the overall
process, which is supplemented by the processes of a project management method.
The documented requirements will be integrated into a comprehensive PE method
based on Stage-Gate5 and PRINCE26 and further steps will automate many of the defined
processes. In these efforts software components like XperiDesk® and tools from
Coventor will be integrated into a framework fostering customer oriented, faster
and more cost-effective MNT development.
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial contribution of the
European Union financing the CORONA project under the 7th Research Framework
(contract number CP-FP 213969-2). Additional thanks go to all project partners
providing valuable knowledge from the domain and the software point of view.
1. NEXUS! Task Force: NEXUS Market Analysis for MEMS and
Microsystems III, 2006
2. CORONA www.corona-mnt.eu
3. Yole Developpement: MEMS Foundries 2009 market report, 2009
4. D. Ortloff, "Product engineering for silicon based MEMS IP," PhD
thesis, Universität Siegen, 2006.
5. Robert G. Cooper, "Product
leadership - Creating and Launching Superior New Products," 1st edition, Basic
6. Great Britain Office of Government
Commerce, "Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2," 5th edition, OGC,
7. From: "Information Technology Project Management"
Fourth Edition, http://as.nida.ac.th/~waraporn/resource/701-2-48/ch01.ppt
Presented at COMS 2009, Copenhagen
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