ACCEL: a Tool for Supporting Design and Planning

Propositions of this PhD Thesis:

1. People use knowledge in four different ways. The same question can therefore be answered in eight different ways (this thesis, page 113).
2. Similar to conceptual solutions, the stakeholder may be regarded as a concept occurring in a formal model of a design process (this thesis, page 29).
3. Formalisms (languages) become natural if they appear to be useful (this thesis, page 115).
4. Tools for the early design phase are still in the early phase of design (this thesis, page 6).
5. We should disconnect the requirements from the new solutions, but … this cannot be done within a single brain. A computer can play the role of solution generator, provided we can represent the space of all solutions (Kees van Overveld, a presentation for the day of design, TU/e, November 2001).
6. Design problems do not easily fit predefined categories (Kleban, 2001).
7. By combining two successful solutions one can produce a solution with a better chance of market success than would be achieved using random mutations.
8. Users tend to make critical remarks about the usability of a product only if the product has potential functionality.
9. Just as words are necessary to understand a picture, likewise a product model is necessary to understand a design problem.
10. Anyone who has ever written a text knows what a design problem is.
11. Guess if you can, choose if you dare (Pierre Corneille, Heraclius, IV, 4).
12. Stating problems is just as important as solving problems. (Translated from L. Apostel).
13. It is not the sea that makes ships sink; it is the wind (Russian proverb).


Short introduction:

 Technological designers, financial planners and business analysts are challenged to make fundamental decisions on new products or service. In this thesis I advocate a modeling approach, a computational tool called Accel and instructions to do it. Depending on forecast for future conditions, process drivers (forecasts) such as number of user, region, marketing strategy, trends on the market – various options for the product and its supply chain are possible. The proposed approach teaches to think in terms of alternatives, results, models. It enables what-if and sensitivity analysis as well as decision optimization. As a result, a team is a able to produce a business case or quantified insights on the problem and make a progress in a systematic and manageable way suitable for modern teams and interdisciplinary approaches.

Technically speaking, the tool resembles a hybrid between Excel and a database built with Visual Studio and C++ technology.