A study of product development practices at a major consumer product manufacturer, referred to as Company X, was undertaken to compare its methods to an earlier effort in modeling the flow of information in product design, referred to as the Design Information Flow Model. The model considers the recognized need in industry for the seamless capture, storage, and retrieval of design information. The research at Company X focused on the front end of product design, that is, the conceptual phase. It was learned that design, as defined by the Information Flow Model, is well represented at the front end of the company’s design process. However, this validation effort succeeded in uncovering certain voids, particularly in later states of the model. It was also learned that product documentation quality and quantity at Company X vary from project to project, indicating an important aspect to consider in our efforts to enhance computer-aided product design is the user.

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