These questions are designed to walk through the respondent's company's current practices for developing applications for automating portions of its design processes. All the information in the completed questionnaires will be confidential, with the results of the questionnaires made available. While the results and conclusions will be used in publication, company names and activities will not be published without permission from the company.
- What organizations are typically involved with design automation, and how are they related? What is your own involvement in design automation? Some application development groups are self-contained consultants to various units of a company; others may be more closely integrated with the people using the applications.
- What kinds of design automation applications are being developed (e.g., to provide design analysis, CAD data, design guidelines, etc.)? Please use examples.
- How large are the design automation projects being undertaken? How long does it take to develop the application? How significant is the task to the design process? Is the development cost significant to the company?
- What is the educational background of the people involved in developing design automation applications (AI, mechanical engineering, software engineering etc.)?
IDENTIFICATION AND SELECTION OF DESIGN TASKS FOR AUTOMATION
- What are the objectives of the design automation effort (e.g., reduced time to market, lower design and manufacturing costs, improved design quality, demonstrate automation technology, etc.)?
- How candidate design tasks and processes are identified (e.g. research, suggestions from design teams or managers, and a search by a team devoted to identifying processes to automate)?
- Who researches a candidate task and decides if it should be automated?
- How does the company determine whether to automate a suggested design task or process? Please describe any formal methods used in this step. In some cases, design automation in the company began because a task was selected for automation. If so, why was the task chosen?
- What economic issues are considered, and what metrics are used?
- What organizational issues (resources, changes resulting from automation, widespread use of the application, etc.) are considered?
- What are the technical considerations in deciding if efficient automation is feasible, and what metrics are used?
- What proof of concept (prototype, etc.) is developed before embarking on a full scale project? What is the purpose of this proof (e.g., demonstration of a representation method, a skeleton of the application)?
- When and how are the requirements of the application to be developed determined?
- How are design automation projects planned?
- Are applications implemented in stages?
- Are temporary solutions implemented and replaced later by a more developed application?
- How is the application development process organized?
- Who captures the design knowledge?
- Who develops the software?
- Who maintains the design automation application?
- What kinds of development tools are being used in your company?
- What plans are made for changes to the design environment during and after the development of the application? The design process is changing and the responsibilities of the design engineers must be redefined
KNOWLEDGE ACQUISITION AND MODELING
Describe how knowledge is captured in your company:
- What are the sources of design knowledge and knowledge needed for the application?
- What knowledge acquisition techniques are used for gathering design knowledge? (e.g., interviews, case studies, protocol analysis, etc.)
- Are there formalized procedures for these techniques? (e.g., interview evaluation techniques, interview formats formalized for use by application developers, case study review to ensure representation of the general problem)?
- How are the users of the application being considered in defining the functionality and usability of the application?
- How do you determine that enough of the rules and process information have been elicited to move to developing the application? Although there will usually be knowledge that was missed, there is a point when the amount of knowledge gathered is not worth the time it takes.
- How is the design task modeled (e.g., paper diagrams, using a development tool, etc.)?
- Is the knowledge acquisition task separated from the representation and software development? How?
KNOWLEDGE REPRESENTATION AND IMPLEMENTATION
Describe how the software is developed.
- Are any software development methodologies and standards used in the application development process?
- How is the application's ability to carry out the design task validated?
- How is the usability of the application validated?
- Who maintains and supports the application?
- Is the use of the application studied? How?
- How are modifications to the knowledge base and to applications made?
- How is the success or failure of an application determined?
- How does the company track and evaluate success/failure and who is responsible for this? If the company has no direct methods, how do you evaluate if a design automation application was a success?
- What reviews of the application and its development are made, and how are they used to improve the development process?
- Based on your definition of success, how successful has your company (group) been at producing design automation applications?
- What weaknesses do you see in the current method of creating these applications?
- What should be the next step for improving design automation work?
- What changes can the company implement to make the application development process more efficient?