Inadequate risk-oriented design analyses probably cause more schedule, cost, and performance problems than any other project element. There is a lack of understanding of the nature of these analyses, and even what the various terms mean (e.g., worst case analysis, sneak circuit analysis, and thermal stress analysis). In addition, risk-oriented design analyses are generally a design engineering option, and often are accomplished by engineering support function rather than the design engineers themselves.
The solution to this problem begins with the requirement that the contractor establish and maintain detailed corporate technical policies specifying the risk-oriented design analyses which are require as a part of the design effort. The responsibility for design analysis lies with the designer, as a necessary adjunct to the design process. A design which has not been subjected to continual and complete risk-oriented analysis is not ready for release. Design release prior to completion of design analyses carries a high risk of design faults which, at best, will impede the test program by frequent failure, and at worst, will go undetected until deployment in the operational environment.
Risk-oriented analyses, such as thermal stress analysis, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), or sneak circuit analysis may require the support of other engineering personnel having specialized knowledge of those disciplines, but the prime responsibility remains with the design engineer. Corporate policy not only defines the necessary analyses but also assigns the participating support engineering organizations and makes provisions for implementation. These provisions include adequate time and resources, and methods for measurement of compliance.
Evidence of the effectiveness of Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) is so overwhelming that contractors are moving rapidly toward the use of such CAE techniques as common technical databases which are available to designers through local terminals. CAE analysis tools which aid in locating and eliminating risk-oriented design problems, while reducing the requirement for the designer to be an expert in the risk-oriented design analysis disciplines, are improving both the accuracy and thoroughness of the analyses and giving the designer greater control of the design process.
Enforcement of thorough design analyses (and mature designs) is aided by the understanding that design reviews will include detailed evaluation of design risk as well as performance. Typical design reviews are so oriented towards performance requirements that design risk is not considered. Best practice requires that design reviews devote the time necessary to evaluate the results of the risk-oriented design analyses. The extra time necessary to complete this evaluation will be more than recovered in the test program and the trouble free transition to rate production.