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Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems Print

Book review: Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems: Ensuring Product Integrity and Program Quality

 Authors: Kim H Pries, Jon M Quigley

Approx 340 pages
ISBN 978-1-4200-7205-1 (hardcover)

This book is a refreshing look at how generally accepted project management processes are deployed in the development of embedded systems in the automotive industry.

As if there isn’t enough project management ‘models’, the authors, Pries and Quigley, introduce their own ‘QP Model’ of project management. They assert that project management in the automotive industry is a ‘control process’ and done effectively these processes should be self-regulating. The QP Model promotes this idea and that the recommended planning activities and organisational procedures define the feedback and control loops. 

The book describes proven project management methods as well as elements of IEEE software development techniques to explain how to deliver reliable complex systems.

It is a good reference resource for any project manager or project team member, however it is written with special focus on project and program management in the following:
- Automotive industry
- Service industry (hospitals and hospitality)
- Industries requiring significant process controls
- Organisations complaint with ISO/TS 16749:2002, ISO 9001:2000
- Manufacturing industries that deploy
- Project management as part of their business process

It refers to Department of Defense sources as well as systems developed by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), General Motors, Chrysler and Ford to explain project management techniques that can assist development of any embedded system and which can be adapted for use in any development type project.

The book is structured to follow the normal project life cycle.

It starts with an overview of project management comparing the differences in approach by the Automobile Industry Action Group, the US Department of Defense, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Electronics Industry Association. It discusses the various process management areas and stage gates or milestone reviews

It continues with a discussion of the generally accepted tools and techniques used including supplier selection, work breakdown structures, resource breakdown structures, estimating and scheduling, critical paths and network diagrams, and risk management. Also discussed are the financial aspects of project cost management including payback periods and returns on investment as well as earned value management techniques.

The conceptual phase of product development is then described with extensive discussion on bills of materials, product configuration management and quality assurance.

A description of the product development phase is then made it is during this phase that the product is designed and specified to meet stakeholder’s expectations.
It includes a discussions of the embedded development process and service process design which is often executed in parallel with the product development phase.

Validation of the product is then introduced. During these tasks, the integrity and reliability of the product is proven.

After product validation and verification, the product is released to production. This stage gate could be considered the end milestone for the development project.

However, further project involvement occurs during the failure reporting and product support phases.
The authors include a detailed discussion on the failure reporting, failure analysis and corrective action systems (FRACAS). They remind us that quick identification of a failure means quicker response and subsequent corrective action. This FRACAS phase starts at the beginning of the project and continues past the production start and provides the control mechanism for the overall development process.

A description of the product support phase is given. The goal of the product support phase is to make sure the product meets the customer’s expectations and is the transition point from project activities to operational activities.

The authors then open up a discussion on the differences between project and program management and the responsibilities of the program manager and various other topics relating to the project management processes deployed in the automotive industry including the impact from globalisation and the virtual project team.

There are extensive appendices describing project management documents and the multitude of design stages and quality audits included in the project management of embedded systems.


Also included throughout the book are many 'War Stories' describing practical solutions to real-life problems that may occur during project execution.

The authors have carried out significant research to support their own extensive experience in the subject matter.
The content of the book is well laid out with clear table of contents, bibliography and index.
The writing style and the page layout along with the use of tables and drawings, makes the book easy to read.

A ‘must read’ for all project personnel inside and outside the automotive industry.

Book review by Jeb Riordan, PMP

The book can be purchased online through Amazon.com…Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems: Ensuring Product Integrity and Program Quality


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