Module 1 – Define

Define Phase

Define the project. Identify a target region and population. Understand the voice of the customer (VOC) to identify their needs. Provides a purpose/reason for the project with quantifiable data and measurable target.

This phase starts by defining customer needs. The customer in most cases is an external entity, but customers can also be internal. For example, when designing a process that feeds components to another in-house process, the customer is internal.

The best sources for this information are the customers themselves. Make note of what they say they want, as well as what their own objectives are. For example, a customer may say a left-handed widget is needed, but after listening to what they need the widget to do, you might determine that a Teflon-coated left-handed widget might be a better solution. Discuss your ideas with the customer to define the best possible solution for the customer’s actual needs.

Information that can be used to define what the customer needs might also come from industry research, historical data,  sales department, and research your team has done. Whatever the source of information, the objective is to have the product design be primarily driven by what the customer needs and is willing to pay for.


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Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design Copyright © 2023 by Jacqulyn A. Baughman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.