Towards The Standardization Of Practices
Keywords:Engineering, Standardization, Engineering Practices, Art to Craft, Processes, Value, Quality
Human-made entities are increasingly becoming more complex, large, and sophisticated in design, realization, and operation. They exhibit very high quality, respond in real-time, are reconfigurable, are highly interactive, and autonomous. To be in business, organizations should offer entities that interest their customers. These entities must have qualities that is infused in them by design. Organizations involved in the engineering of these entities, function through their processes wherein the desired qualities are built into the entities through the work done in the process. When high-quality entities are deployed by customers, they ‘appropriate’ value. This value x quality correlation drives organizations to continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their processes.
A discipline in which goal accomplishment depends largely on tacit knowledge is an art. As this knowledge becomes explicit in the form of collections of operational practices and guidelines, it becomes a craft. The discipline becomes scientific when the knowledge base is evolved into explicit models that can guide synthesis and analysis, with continuous refinement processes in place to improve their predictive ability.
Engineering establishes and maintains consistent practices, processes, approaches, and uniform ways of realizing human-made entities. It deals with the representations of economically producible components that can be assembled to construct the functional whole. It is driven by requirements and specifications and focuses on producibility, practicality, composability, interoperation and is as close to pragmatism as possible to allow for realization and subsequent operation.
Every engineering decision is driven by knowledge. Sometimes it is explicit knowledge that can be formulated into models. In other cases, it is tacit experiential knowledge and intuition. Engineering also generates knowledge in multiple ways. Repeated experience, both successful and unsuccessful, crystallizes intuition first into practical knowledge, and subsequently into formalized models. These models are used generatively to drive decisions to achieve goals, and to predict outcomes. Any unexpected variation in outcomes drives refinement of practice, and eventually refinement of the underlying knowledge.
In essence, engineering is the act of using scientific principles and a collection of best practices to design, build, verify, validate, certify, operate, and maintain human-made entities. Understanding and facilitating the processes involved in standardizing these best practices enables the development of better foundations for engineering practice. Such an endeavour can enable better knowledge management practices and tooling, including explication of tacit knowledge, refinement of explicit knowledge into models, and synthesis and reconciliation of these models into worldviews with both internal consistencies, and consistent with the real world of observations and goal achievement.
To improve the foundational basis for engineering, this paper proposes an underlying systems approach for standardizing engineering practices. This paper covers various facets of what it takes to transform work practices into best practices by means of an iterative approach to incrementally obtain understanding that involves successively spanning many dimensions of the engineering practices and adopting a holistic attitude about it.