What does "complexity management" mean?

The term complexity management is used with increasing frequency. What does it precisely mean?

Various (technical) systems and products are becoming increasingly complex and complicated, because todays steadily growing technical possibilites are really exploited to the limits to provide maximum possible functionalty for products. But often a vicious circle is initiated hereby.

Increasing functional requirements induce increasing system complexity, which normally leads to reduced robustness. This in turn results in an additional increase in system requirements, and so on...

We understand complexity management as the intention to keep the complexity of a dedicated system as low as possible and only as high as absolutely necessary to provide the desired functionality.

Complexity management especially comprises of the following issues:

  • Introduction of quantitative ratings for the assessment of complexity and the formulation of minimal complexity as a dedicated development goal (complexity does not provide added value itself, except for a single development engineer, who want's to assure, that nobody except him will understand)
  • Introduction of quantitative conflict analysis to identify and eliminate requirement conflicts as much as possible (unresolved requirement conflicts lead to unnecessary increase in system complexity)
  • Introduction of dedicated robustness management, to show the negative effects of complexity increase immediatly and make it controllable then (see What does "robustness management" mean?)

Last update on 2022-02-20 by Andreas Kuhn.

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