Remember the last FEA report that passed by your desk? The one missing a scale on the plots, with no description of the loads or boundary conditions used for analysis?
We’ve all seen a few of these in our careers: the ones that make us wonder what was going on in the engineer’s mind when they prepared it. There’s just no way to know if the beautifully blue and green plot is a result of brilliant engineering, or closer in calibre to your 6 year old’s colouring book.
But then, we’ve also been on the other end of the picture, plodding away at a report after a long day of analysis, and trying to distill hours of work into a 10 minute read. You’re reminded of last July’s big move, and again you realize there’s no way everything will fit in the box.
So what do you think is important enough to try to squeeze in? What does your boss want to include? What does your client want to see? What does the night shift analyst want to know to continue working on the project? And more importantly, how are you supposed to know any of this?
Maybe the useless report isn’t such a mystery after all. At Inertia, we’ve recognized that even the best analyst isn’t a mind reader. He can’t know exactly what everyone needs to glean from his report. There are many ways to address this problem. We’ve chosen to provide employees with a standard FEA report template, with an integrated checklist. This template is available for you to download. Please feel free to try it and modify it to better fit your requirements.
We see a few benefits to this template:
- Speed: When engineers don’t have to worry about how to present information, they can turn out a great report by just filling in the blanks. This leaves much more time for them to focus on the real reason they were hired: analysis.
- Consistency: Every plot is scaled the same way; every report is structured in the same order. So every time you need to find information, it’s right at your fingertips.
- Education: The template includes an integrated checklist that guides the engineer in telling the analysis story, all the way from set up to results. New employees can even use the template as an introduction to analysis.
- Continuity: Lessons learned from previous projects can be easily integrated into the template as an additional note, picture, or example on the relevant slide.
We hope this template is as useful and productive for your product development as it has proven to be for us!
We’d like to hear about what other methods or tools your product development team uses to ensure consistent quality communication.