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Parallel and sequential testing of design alternatives

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An important managerial problem in product design is the extent to which testing activities are carried out in paralellel or in series. Parallel testing has the advantage of proceeding more rapidly than serial testing dut does not tandake advantage of the potential for learning between tests, thus resulting in a larger number of tests. We model this trade-off in form of a dynamic program and derive the optimal testing strategy (or mix of parallel and serial testing) that minimizes both the total cost and time testing. We derive the optimal testing strategy as a function of testing cost, prior knowledge and testing lead time. Using information theory to measure the amount of learning between tests, we further show that in the case of imperfect testing (due to noise or simulated conditions) the attractiveness of parallel strategies increases. Finally, we analyze the relationship between testing strategies and the structure of design hierarchy. We show that a key benefit of modular product architecture lies in the reduction of testing.

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