Wednesday, September 13, 2006

An Unsettling Trend in Design Project Planning

When we discuss an IC design teams capabilities to execute on a given project how quickly does the conversation evolve into an EDA discussion? Everywhere we read about design bandwidth and quality the emphasis is on tools and flows. There is little doubt that EDA capabilities are a significant contributor to a team’s productivity. The risk I see is that an unrealistic dependence on EDA can allow it to be considered as a design projects fundamental reason for failure, masking the need to find root cause and implement process changes.

Where does management, or more precisely the detailed planning of design team execution fall in today’s product development organizations? The planning I am refereeing to is not only the technology type activities and decisions; it must include the organizational interfaces and deliverable expectations beyond that of pure engineering. The “what”, “where” and “how” details if you will. An unsettling trend in organizations today is that non-architectural planning aspects of a design project fall upon canned EDA flows and program management, primarily driven by the need to maximize design bandwidth for engineering activities.

The danger in this tendency is that the EDA scope does not encompass the entire design process that must be addressed and program management does not typically have the knowledge for in depth detailed design planning. A planning gap results, creating a surprise during design execution further leading to a diversion from the plan. Organizations are far less hesitant to send a design engineer off to training related to a specific tool than they are to a class dealing with design planning strategies, thus perpetuating the disparity in planning expertise within design.

If a design project fails to meet its objectives the blame can’t blindly be tossed on EDA or program management. We must face the stark reality that a failed project was not planned and managed for success. If we want design project execution to be predictable and meet the mark we must invest in the teams abilities and skills for planning and managing their projects. Every member of design must possess abilities to enable him or her to properly scope, track and deliver their contribution to the project.

No comments:

Post a Comment