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Perils of Interfacing


Communication is a wonderful thing. During the project it is important that the wants and needs of the design of the system are communicated in a timely and as un- ambiguously as possible. This process involves a necessary amount of feedback to check that the message has got across.

Most design processes involve many people. If the team are co located, of similar mind and skill sets then a great deal of cohesiveness brings minimal disruption in terms of deviations and misunderstandings. Of course, having simple projects helps enormously. But what if the teams are dispersed? What if the teams are of different disciplines and the project is complex with many unknowns?

This is where project documentation such as design specifications comes into the frame. Nice clearly written and diagrammatic documentation on what the thing in the black box will do. The surrounding components in the system all have their own specs too. Each lead designer responsible for the generation and sign off of his spec.

But there is an important aspect of this that often doesn’t get the fullest of attention that it deserves. That is the interface between two system components.

Each spec tends to dwell on what is the function of that component. But it is at the point of interface between two components that requires the fullest of cooperation and agreement between two system component designers that can be the source of major issues.

Consider the provisioning of hardware resource for the software to run on or perhaps the mechanical working and surface finishing lining up with the needs of the Product Managers aesthetics and usage requirements.

Cultural and national characteristics aside. Different disciplines have subtly different languages.

It is important that the specifications that cross the boundaries of disciplines are written in a language that both parties understand and feedback should be sought that full understanding of the meanings, tolerances, trade offs and risks are discussed and agreed.












  Interim Engineering Director. Interim Engineering Manager. Interim R&D Director. Interim R&D Manager. Interim Project Director. Interim Project Manager. Interim CTO. Interim VP Engineering.