Design: the quintessential business transaction

Muir, C. Douglas R. (1999) Design: the quintessential business transaction. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The fundamental structures that underpin business activities must evolve and change in order to equip companies to thrive in a market whose characteristics are increasing competition and instability. The incremental advances in applied computing technology and business methodologies which focus on improving one aspect of company operations ignore the need for an underlying structure and model through which to engage any and all functions in a consistent and integrated fashion. Indeed, many exacerbate the problem through closed architectures, isolationist views of entity data storage and rigid methodologies imposed on the company that employs them.

The Product Model proposed fulfils that role. It is a model of the processes and entities that a company uses to conduct its business, at all levels and across all departments. Two other concepts are exposed: product model data and the design history record. Product model data are the values of instances of product model entities and relations, created to represent a particular design, artefact or object. The design history record captures the data and functions used in a transaction and the order and context in which they are used.

To exercise these concepts, a software suite was written, the Glasgow Utility for Integrated Design, Guide. It supports the definition of a proud model and its subsequent use in the creation of product model data. Each interaction with the system is recorded, thus capturing the design history record, which can subsequently be processes to various advantageous ends. The major such uses are for re-use of part information in other designs and the extraction of design best practice with which to augment the company's design methodology. It is a comprehensive record, since all business processes are supported by, and can be transacted through Guide.

Guide has been used to validate the adequacy of the product model and has established many benefits through its use. Applications in many spheres are possible; engineering has been the primary focus for exemplars and case studies. The development was carried out under the scrutiny of constant validation and testing in live situations with several industrial partners. Guide is built on industry standard tools and uses relational database technology to store frame-based representations of entities, methods and relationships.

The design of project plans is carried out on the same platform used to support the project itself; the design data are not dissociated from the project controlling mechanism. Resources, including staff, are engaged according to requirements and audit mechanisms allow for constant re-evaluation of the project development. Control and communication mechanisms support applications in an extended enterprise environment and the distribution of resources that this entails.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: T Technology > TS Manufactures
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Supervisor's Name: Scott, Prof. Brian
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Mr Toby Hanning
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-1613
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:44

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