My last post in November 2007 was about sew product development and so I start the blog again after 5 months on the same topic. When the user and the designer are two seperate departments both would naturally have different requirements. Not necessarily all these requirements can be mapped, because all may not be logical. For example if a doctor has a preference for a particular brand of surgical instruments he will not switch brands merely on the basis of logic. There is a realiability based bond that he has with the current brand.
Coming back the the point, when users and designers of a product are a very different set of people, conflicts are bound to occur. Nothing displays this conflict more than the development of India's indigenous battle tank Arjun. The designer is DRDO and the user is the Indian Army. Chk the link
Ajai Shukla has done beautiful work in bringing out the story from both sides.
One more point of consideration is the long lead time of design. The long lead time ensures that customers have time to be impregnated by new ideas and rock the existing boat. The key would be to create a product as fast as possible and give it to the customer. There will always be a scope for improvement. This scope should not limit the product being produced. Like the Eurofighter mentioned in the article, a basic product should roll out first and then there can be incremental improvements. Unless there is a huge safety issue I believe that some product is better than no product. Given the strategic nature of defense sector I believe that some version of the tank should be in service as soon s possible and it can be developed as and when needed.
I'll do some wishful thinking here. Maybe if the design was modular, we could very easily replace the old technology modules with new gadgets as soon as they are designed.