Concurrent Engineering/Team Building
Definition of Team
"A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable." (Katzenbach and Smith, 1993)
A team differs from a group in that it is united by a common function and set of goals.
For more good information about teams: Building Block for Teams 
1. A team functions best if there is a shared vision, a shared problem statement, a goal that all team members can support, in other words, a pre-determined objective that everyone agrees upon.
2. A champion will greatly improve the chance of team success. A champion is an individual so committed to the project that they will make sure that nothing falls through the cracks
3. A successful team must have:
- competence—skills appropriate to the project or ready access to those skills
- trust—trust develops from team members getting to know what they can expect of one another
- velocity—jargon for the ability to make decisions and take action quickly
4. All projects have three kinds of risk which must be assessed and dealt with;
- technical—is the project technically doable?
- organizational—do the relevant managers support the project?
- personal—is your heart in it?
There are nine team roles defined to help the team function more effectively:
- Organizer – a person who visualizes and plans for the whole design process.
- Motivator – a person who takes care of the schedule and goals of the team.
- Pusher – an active person who makes team work faster.
- Solver – an imaginative person who deals mainly with problem resolution.
- Gatherer – a person who is good at collecting information and communicating with other teams.
- Listener – a perceptive person, who can listen and combine the ideas and statements of others.
- Completer – a careful person who specializes in eliminating design defects.
- Specialist – a dedicated person who is extremely skilled and has a lot of knowledge in a specific area.
- Evaluator – a person who has good strategic skills, keeps the balance between immediate needs and long-term goals, and weighs consequences (Skalak, Susan).
Five Characteristics of Teamwork
There are five characteristics that are the keys to a winning team. The following characteristics are arranged in order of importance, from highest to lowest.
1. Shared Values
- Team members establish shared values and common goals and make the commitment to succeed
2. Mutual Trust
- Team members trust each other to get the job done. They understand their role on the team is important and to put forth maximum effort to fulfill their promises.
- Everyone should express their opinions, feelings, and doubts. Share information with your team. This will help everyone to understand the project in greater detail.
- Team members should be enthusiastic with each other. This will help produce the best performance as a team.
3. Inspiring Vision
- Provides direction and motivates the team
- Team members understand what needs to be done and how it can be done.
- The focus should be on exceeding customer satisfaction. The team should be inspired to work hard so that the product's performance, quality, and cost are all rated excellent.
4. Skill / Talent
- A team is stronger when team members are skilled in their discipline. In addition when people are from different backgrounds they can work as a team to solve complex problems.
- A skilled individual is important, however, it is not as important as an individual who is a better team member. A good team member prioritizes the values of the team, trust on the team, and the vision of the team.
- Team members should be rewarded for their hard work and determination. Rewards include going out to eat, a bonus, or a promotion.
- As a manager it is your job to give positive reinforcement to your team members. People feel good when people show their appreciation for their contributions. Happy team members is one of the most important things on a team. The team culture is what drives a team to success. For more information about teamwork:
Quote about teamwork rewards,
- "It's possible to achieve almost anything as long as you are not worried about who gets the credit." – Harry S. Truman
Training is critical for good teamwork.If team members are from different specialty areas and have never worked on a cross-functional project, training will help the speed up the process and develop teamwork.When teams experience problems or unusual situations, well-trained teams will be more successful.Using a trainer is another effective method to solve incompatibility issues among members who have different backgrounds, such as business, liberal arts, or engineering. Incompatibility is common in a cross-functional team. The trainer can help the team keep focused on the problem at hand. Other factors also contribute to good teamwork. Creativity, experience, leadership, organization resources, and strategy for handling conflict are also needed to be effective (Skalak, Susan).
Making Concurrent Engineering Teams
One of the basic characteristics of concurrent engineering is to utilize cross-functional teams which give life-cycle focus to the project. There are five teams that join the concurrent engineering team: the project management team, the new technology team, the cross-functional product development team, the cross-functional process development team, and the product team. The size of each team depends on the project. If a company implementing concurrent engineering is very small, some personnel might have to be on more than one team.
The Development Management Team
The Development Management Team basically consists of senior managers. The MT is involved mainly with the project planning stage and with each check point throughout the project. The MT budgets money for each team, sets the meeting for the team leaders, approves the timeline of the new project, and communicates with suppliers. The MT team has supervision of the project. However, most decisions are made by each of the teams in concurrent engineering.
The New Technology Team
The New Technology Team consists of varied design and manufacturing engineers from the company. This team works during project planning and conceptual stages. The implementation of a new technology in the development process may cause uncertainty and risks. Thus, the team works with the new technology outside of the development process of the project. If the new technology is proven, the team then brings it to the development process. When a company needs to take action because of a quick change in the market, the new technology developed by this team will be used.
Cross-Functional Product Development Team
The Cross –Functional Product Development Team (CDT) consists of members of the company from different functions related to the project . This team could include representatives from marketing, manufacturing, software, electrical design, or even people from a different company if the project is a collaboration between companies. This team is most active in the planning stage, and works until the project shifts to production. The single most important function for this team is communication. Frequent communication can reduce risks in the future. For example, at least a few problems will occur when a project shifts to the production stage. However, when the manufacturing engineer is part of the CDT, it could help to reduce those problems.
The Cross-Functional Process Development Team
The Cross-Functional Process Development Team (CPDT) has responsibility for development and set up of the manufacturing line. This team works like the CDT.
The Product Team
The Product Team (PT) is organized using members from CDT, CPDT, and PT. This team is responsible for product support during the production stage. The problems that occur in either the product field or the production lines are dealt with by PT. However, since the product support is addressed in CDT, this team has a broader scope for problem resolution. This is an advantage of Concurrent Engineering (Skalak, Susan).
Concurrent Engineering Team Vs. Serial Engineering
In a cross-functional product development team, people work together from different disciplines. A typical team would consist of mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, software engineers, firmware engineers, quality engineers, failure analysis, and marketing people. In addition representatives of the customer also work with the development team. The team works together in parallel sharing information and knowledge. Communication is key in product development. It is essential that each discipline work together and collaborate. With this approach the product will make it to the market faster, while reducing costs, and boosting the quality.
- Team members work together in parallel
- better communication
- faster product development
- reduced costs
- improved quality
- Team consists of:
- Engineers (mechanical, electrical, software, firmware, quality, failure analysis)
- Customer Representative
When cross-functional product development is not used in a company, the development process is most likely to be serial. In this process there are different development phases which succeed one another. Each phase is done by a group and after they are done they pass it on to the next group (next phase). The group working on the newest phase is most likely to want to fix what the previous group did in the last phase. So what most commonly happens is they will request for modification. However, the first group is working on something else, which delays the modification. When the first group gets back to looking at the requested modification, they might not like the requested modification, so they propose another alternative. What is inefficient about this process is the 1st group doesn’t fully understand the requirements of the 2nd group (2nd phase). The main issue when people are not working in parallel is communication. When there is really good communication between people and groups everyone understands the requirements of the entire project. Good communication increases productivity and efficiency .
- Serial Design Process consists of:
- Different groups, and different phases
- Each group works on a certain phase and when done they pass it on to the next group which works on the next phase
- Issues with the Serial Design Process:
- Succeeding groups are likely to want modifications done in previous phases which delays product development
- Groups lack an understanding of each groups requirements because of communication inefficiency
- Less competitive and higher costs
Concurrent Engineering Management
1. Motivating Your Team Members
- Challenge everyone to get involved. Engineers enjoy challenges because when you figure something out it is really rewarding. So it is important that the manager assigns work that challenges everyone.
- Inspire everyone on the team that what they’re doing is important. When someone knows they are helping someone that makes them feel good. People enjoy helping each other and if they feel like they are contributing to society in a good way, this motivates a person to do their very best. Get them convinced that what they are doing is going to make a difference in people’s lives.
- Make it a fun for people to work. Allow the team to joke around and share some laughs. Your team will be more successful if it is somewhat relaxed. However, it is manager’s job to tell everyone to get back to work if it becomes too relaxed.
2. Set Realistic Targets
- As a manager you will need to set realistic targets and goals. It is good to set targets which challenge the team versus easy-to-achieve targets. Now this might mean that your team will have to struggle through working longer hours at times, but it is good to set realistic, achievable targets. If you set your targets to low your competition might beat you to the market and your project won’t be a success.
- Targets need to be carefully analyzed. Experience in developing products definitely helps in industry and if you feel the targets are out of reach, make sure to give feedback to your bosses. Be prepared to say why you think the targets are out of reach and propose your thoughts on more realistic targets. It is also good to let your bosses know beforehand that you think the targets are out of reach if your team does indeed fail to achieve that specific target. You will be able to explain how you tried to convince to them earlier how it was unrealistic even with the additional hours your team put into the project on the weekdays and weekends.
3. Effective Meetings and Communication (more info at effective meetings)
- Decide in advance of each meeting what your key objectives are and make sure you meet those objectives.
- There are four purposes in meetings. They are to create/fuse a team, to impart information, to brainstorming ideas, and to collect information. If only one of these purposes is the objective, there is no need to take more time to talk about other things during the meeting. It is important to keep the meeting short, and right to the point.
- As the manager you need to be in control of the meeting. Make sure people are talking and keep the pace of the meeting on the faster side. One way of keeping the meetings shorter is to hold meetings at the end of the day. People will likely want to go home and this will make the meetings more efficient and productive. However, if the meeting is meant for people to get to know one another and bond, beginning the day with a meeting might be a good idea.
- Schedule meetings in advance. It is a good idea to schedule meetings a day or two ahead of time versus on the same day. However, scheduling a meeting too far ahead might me ineffective. It is best to confirm a day with everyone and make sure everyone can make it a day before.
4. Make the Meetings Fun
- The managers job is to make meetings fun and interesting.
- Bring food and/or drink to meetings. The team will appreciate it and will be happy.
- Allow the team to tell stories to the lighten the mood.
- The manager should be confident and relaxed and this will help the team get more work done. For more information on managing a team: Managing Your Team 
Managing Your Winning Team in Industry
Notes by Joseph Lutnesky, based on work experience of Mr. Lutnesky, mechanical engineer and project manager at Hewlett-Packard.
1. A team works best in achieving set goals when a team culture has been established.
- Encourage everyone to assist each other. It is important to help each other out and not to hold back information. Engineers need to share their knowledge and experience so that the team works as a team rather than individuals. A team works together to achieve goals.
- Be respectful and support each other. It is important to be open to new ideas and to be supportive of each team member’s ideas. Rethink your ideas to best fit with the team
2. Let everyone know their responsibilities on the team.
- Management needs to be aware of each team member’s expertise and assign work accordingly. More experienced engineers will have more responsibilities and they may also be asked to mentor less experienced engineers such as an intern or an entry-level engineer.
3. Communicate with everyone on the team.
- It is very important that the management communicate with everyone on the team. Work one-on-one with your team if possible so the leader of the group understands the project as much as possible.
- Everyone on the team needs to talk to one another in small groups or one-on-one. The more everyone understands what’s going on in the project (design), the more efficient the team will be in achieving the team’s objectives. Mechanical engineers need to communicate to each other as well as all the other disciplines (electrical engineers, manufacturing, marketing, programming engineers, etc.) because they all relate to each other when you are developing a new product.
4. Working as a team
- Engineering managers need to make sure there is a balanced workload. Mechanical Engineers may have an idea on how to make it really simple mechanically but electrically it could be harder. So it is important to work as a team and help each other out by being open to new ideas which will make the team more efficient and effective.
- Cooperate rather than compete with each other. At times engineers may be competitive with one another. This will likely occur when two or more engineers are working on the same thing. One way to avoid competition is to split up the work and assign different sections of design work. This management technique improves the efficiency in designing a product and limits the competition aspect in out doing each other.
- As a team member it is important that everyone on the team feels as though they are contributing to the project. People are more enthusiastic when their ideas can be seen in the product. So for this reason, it is important to split up the work and allow people to contribute in their own way.
Transfer of Technology and Knowledge
A company will have many projects and many engineers through the years. It is important for engineers to share with other engineers what they learned on projects. This way when a similar project comes around again, more engineers will have a better understanding in what they are doing. Managers should schedule meeting times so different teams of engineers can share their projects. In addition, it is also important for experienced engineers (7+ years) to spend time teaching younger engineers their expertise and knowledge.
- Share with engineers what you learned on a project so they can gain valuable knowledge.
- Experienced engineers: take time to teach younger engineers your expertise
Concurrent Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering
Concurrent Engineering (CE) in designing and developing airplanes consists of controlling three parameters.
1. The design needs to be good
- Having an airplane that has a solid fundamental design will satisfy the customer of that airplane.
2. Design and development time
- Getting the product out to the customer more quickly will help you gain a competitive advantage.
3. The cost
- Lowering the cost will increase profits
North American P-51 "Mustang"
One of the best airplanes ever designed was the North American P-51 "Mustang". It played a major role in WWII defending the bombers. It was fast, maneuverable, highly durable, had a long range, and was armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns. Surprisingly the P-51 was designed and developed in just 102 days. There was a great need for a new airplane and time was limited. North American engineers worked together to produce one of the most famous fighters of WWII. CE is not new, it has been around for a while. It is important that people understand how it works and if they do, they can also develop products like the P-51 at a fast rate. For more information on the P-51 : 
- North American P-51 and CE
- CE was used in designing and developing the P-51 “Mustang” in 1940. It took just 102 days to deliver the first prototype Mustang
- The P-51 was cost effective which was essential
- Time was limited which meant working as an efficient team was very important. CE was the key to the fast arrival of the P-51.
Meschersmitt BF 109
The competition of the P-51 was the German Meschersmitt BF 109. This aircraft was also mass produced like the Mustang and there was a great deal of effort put into making the manufacturing process as easy as possible. Since producing the BF109 was easier it was also faster, allowing for a greater number of airplanes to go into combat, replacing the airplanes that were shot down. This played a role in WWII allowing the Germans to fly with a greater number of aircraft than if they weren’t able to produce as many aircraft per day. The demand for new airplanes was high during the war. For more information on the BF 109: 
- Meschersmitt BF 109 and CE
- The BF 109 used CE emphasizing on the design of manufacture.
- It took just 7,000 M/hrs to design which was important for Germany since they needed new and improved airplanes.
Boeing 777 Series
The Boeing 777 series of airplanes also used CE with emphasis on project management. For Boeing it was important to gain a competitive advantage in the design process over Airbus (A330/A340). For more information on CE in aerospace design by Susan Carlson Skalak go to: 
- Boeing and CE
- Conscious and deliberate
- Highly structured meetings (scheduled down to the minute)
- Culture change
1.) Susan Carlson Skalak, "Implementing Concurrent Engineering in Small Companies", Marcel Dekker, Inc, 2002
2.) "Team Building & Teamwork", http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/crosscuttings/team_main.html, February 26, 2009.
3.) "Principles of Good Product Development", http://www.johnstark.com/prn07.html, February 26, 2009.
4.) "Managing Your Team", http://www.informit.com/content/images/9780131870369/samplechapter/013187036X_Sample.pdf, February 20, 2009.
5.) University of Southampton, "Concurrent Engineering", http://www.soton.ac.uk/~jps7/Lecture%20notes/Lecture%209%20Concurrent%20Engineering.pdf, February 26, 2009.