Chad Jackson

The Impact of System Level Prototype Failures

August 6, 2019

Anecdotally, we know that failures with system testing are bad. But how does it affect design release? In this video, we review a finding from our research that quantifies the connection.

The Impact of System Level Prototype Failures


How important is it to succeed on your first system-level prototype? Let’s take a look at some research.

There is a connection between system-level prototyping and design release. A few years ago, we conducted a study that looked at a wide variety of different business metrics, including the two previously mentioned. We were interested in looking at the correlation/ connection between them.

In the video above, the top of the table shown depicts the number of projects, out of 10, that hit design release dates. Ideally, you’d want to fall in the category to the far right where eight or more of your projects hit the design release dates. To the left, as you go down from top to bottom, it shows the number of projects with three-plus system-level prototype failures. The further down the table you are, the worse it’s going to be. You want very few system-level failures.

The projects with many system-level prototype failures are found on the bottom left of the graph and show a 26 – 27%  failure rate. Here, three or less out of the 10 projects actually hit design release dates. If there are multiple system-level prototype failures, it’s very unlikely you’re going to be hitting your design release dates.

In contrast, the top right shows six or more of those projects hitting design release dates, and very few have system-level failures. This distinctly makes a difference in how successful your organization is in hitting design release dates.

These findings are relevant today because companies are making the transition from traditional mechanical products to smart connected ones. If your company is not passing on those system-level prototypes, you’re endangering your ability to hit design release dates.

Something to keep in mind when you look at technology-led engineering initiatives. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.


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