Capability audit for modular system development: assessing important factors for establishing and maintaining common modular system architectures

Markus Heilemann, Stephen Culley

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


If companies want to tackle increasing complexity, they often take use of modular system architectures which are seen as important enabler for sharing standardized modules across different development projects. Although numerous examples in systems business can be found where companies established modular architectures, they still face difficulties to reuse standardized architectural elements in a wide range of different development projects. One of the major reason for these difficulties is the focus on single system development projects instead of scoping multiple projects. However, when transitioning from single-solution focus toward a more generic multi-solution focus, engineering projects are prone to failure due to lack of time, resources, motivation and information. Consequently, the common modular product architecture loses its stability and diverges from project to project. This leads to branched architectures, isolated projects and systems with little commonality. Therefore, it is the aim of this paper to present an audit questionnaire that assesses the capability of a company to establish common modular system architectures from which a high variety of different systems can be derived. In order to develop the audit questionnaire, issues, important factors and appropriate means of support were identified and tested during a longitudinal case study in industry for more than four years. The innovative audit questionnaire suggests concrete actions for improving system engineering processes concerning their capability to create modules that are based on a common architecture. Consequently, these modules can be shared across a wide variety of products. This support will help companies to cut complexity, cost and risk of failure in transitioning toward modular system development with common architectures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of IEEE International Symposium on Systems Engineering, 2015
Place of PublicationRome, Italy
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event2015 IEEE International Symposium on Systems Engineering - Rome, Italy
Duration: 27 Sept 201529 Sept 2015


Conference2015 IEEE International Symposium on Systems Engineering


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