Variant and Complexity Management in the Product Development Process

What is the context of complexity and complexity management? Complexity is made visible by all the features and systems that act independently of one another in a system and yet stand in a certain relationship to one another.

Variant and Complexity Management in the Product Development Process

In terms of an economic production process, complexity means bringing all elements into a uniform context. This is the only way to ensure that a product development process leads to success. Those responsible for this must bear in mind that the complex processes in a production process can also develop a high degree of momentum. To prevent complexity from getting out of hand, internal company structures must be supported in good time by good complexity management.

The primary goal of company management should be to control the production process in such a way that legal requirements and customer wishes are taken into account. Of course, the measures are more advantageous if there is also product success.

This goal is supported by professional complexity management. Therefore, every company should install a successful management to eliminate the complexities as soon as the processes become too complex. Otherwise, the company must expect that liquidity will suffer. If necessary investments cannot be made because a product does not generate sales or the product development process has stalled, a company must fear for its economic existence.

Complexity Management and its Elements

Complexity arises when the factors involved in the product development process evolve into a complicated variable. This can be seen, for example, in the case of intransparency. If the factors of a production process are not in a logical relationship to each other, it becomes intransparent and complex.

With a successfully networked complexity management, these problems can be circumvented. Intransparency is avoided by establishing a logical flow between the individual production processes. The material required for production is available at the moment it is needed. The logistics department is informed as soon as the product is ready for shipment. By using management to eliminate the complex issues, companies can create a production process that is absolutely trouble-free or allows only minimal deviations from the production program.

If management is used to eliminate complex issues, e.g. in the IT department, the first step is to determine the complexity caused by the fact that too many IT systems are being used. If the programs are in competition with each other, management may have to choose an IT system. Those responsible will find support in professional complexity management.

Another department for using a system that resolves complex processes is compliance. Too many rules and regulations lead to an increase in the error rate of employees. One starting point for complexity management is the dual control principle. Successful implementation can significantly minimize errors.

Use of Method, System and Requirements Engineering

Complexity management only works if it is supported by various methods. The most successful methods are method engineering, systems engineering and requirements engineering.

Methods Engineering

Every company uses methods that have proven themselves for years. Due to technical progress, however, the application suddenly no longer leads to success. This is where method technology comes in. Old methods are adapted to new technologies and thus made usable again.

Requirements Engineering

With the correct installation of this method, complexity management can identify and specify the requirements of a product development process. After an in-depth review, solution approaches are developed that meet the various requirement profiles.

Complexity Management in Action

If good complexity management is installed in a company, there is no need to comply with legislation and laws. However, for a meaningful application it is useful if own guidelines are developed, which everyone involved in the process can refer to.

Complexity management can be used to eliminate complex issues in all areas of a company. This applies to materials purchasing and the sales department as well as to the actual product creation process and inventory management. If management intervenes in as many areas of the company as possible to eliminate complex issues, customer development and the relationship with suppliers can also be supported by suitable processes.

Complexity Management as a Solution to Product Complexity

Many companies hope to gain a broad sales market by offering a wide range of products. However, this calculation does not always work out.If a company for example produces products A, B and C, this does not mean that all three products can be sold with the same success. The production costs, on the other hand, vary only slightly.

In order to ensure economic success with a wide range of products, the company has to make compromises. If good complexity management is used, certain decisions can be made more easily.

What Help does Suitable Software Provide in Complexity Management?

With suitable software, good complexity management can be used even more efficiently. The software can be easily integrated into any corporate structure. A company management benefits from the use of the software in individual divisions or the entire company.

The factors that drive complexity in a product development process are identified and specified by the software. An in-depth analysis is also one of the tasks that a company can solve with the support of the software.

The analysis is followed by the development of the appropriate solution approaches. The complexity management software is practically indispensable here. It not only offers the solutions, but also applies them in the right place.

Example: Creation of a Controlling Report

Companies use the controlling report to inform the management about the operational cost structures. Particularly in the area of cost accounting, complex issues arise here because it is not always clear at which cost unit the costs were actually incurred. Even a breakdown into variable and fixed cost items cannot always be made unambiguously because the cost structures are too complex.

By using software, the controller ensures that his controlling reporting records the actual cost structures. The program assigns the costs incurred to the cost units that caused them. A separation into variable costs and fixed costs is also possible with appropriate software without difficult handling.


Complexity in a product development process is not an insurmountable obstacle. With the support of sound complexity management, all complex issues can be filtered out and eliminated.

Excellent systems engineering support ensures certain software that easily identifies and eliminates complexity drivers. Method engineering and systems engineering can also meet their requirements and make a company look more economical overall by using the appropriate programs.

For example, the software will meet the requirement of a company to adapt to a different market through new technologies and manufacturing processes. With the use of the software, the company can more easily realize its self-imposed goals for cost savings and profit maximization.

Special software also supports the company's internal policy structure and is easy for each individual employee to manage. Once the software has identified and analyzed the complexity drivers, the employee is guided to the solutions that make each product development process a success.