Product architecture assessment: a tool to link product, process, and supply chain design decisions

Selected papers by Sebastian K. Fixson are available on SSRN at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=712088


Journal of Operations Management




Increasingly heterogeneous markets, together with shorter product life cycles, are forcing many companies to simultaneously compete in the three domains of product, process, and supply chain. Dependencies among decisions across these domains make this competitive situation very complex. To address this complexity, three-dimensional concurrent engineering (3D-CE) has been suggested ([Fine, C.H., 1998. Clockspeed—Winning Industry Control in the Age of Temporary Advantage. Perseus Books, Reading, MA.]). Applying 3D-CE requires an operationalization of one of its core elements: the product architecture. In this paper, I develop a multi-dimensional framework that enables comprehensive product architecture assessments. The framework builds on existing product characteristic concepts such as component commonality, product platforms, and product modularity. The framework's utility is illustrated with two example products, showing how individual product architecture dimensions link decisions across different domains. This framework can be used to focus advice for product design on product architecture dimensions that are critical for a given operational strategy, to assess advantages and limitations of operational strategies in conjunction with given product architectures, or to develop dynamic capabilities such as planning effective product–operation strategy combinations.


Operational Research | Other Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering | Strategic Management Policy

Recommended Citation

Fixson, S. K. (2005). Product architecture assessment: a tool to link product, process, and supply chain design decisions. Journal of Operations Management, 23 (3-4, Special Issue: Coordinating product design, process design, and supply chain design decisions), 345-369.

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