> Functional Allocation I
Functional Allocation I
Some system engineering process descriptions talk about “Functional Allocation” as being one of the activities that is performed during product development. So, what is “Functional Allocation”? Is it the allocation of a set of interrelated functions to a set of “something else”? Is it the allocation of a set of “something else” to a set of function(s)? Is it both? Is it done once, or is it done multiple times, progressing down a ladder of decreasing abstraction until the final allocation iteration is from something abstract to something concrete and physically measurable?
I hate the word “allocation”. I prefer the word “design” because that’s what the activity really is. Given a specific set of items at one level of abstraction, the “allocator” must create a new set of items at the next lower level of abstraction. That seems like design to me, doesn’t it? Depending on the nature and complexity of the product under development, conjuring up the next lower level set of items may be very difficult. The “allocator” has an infinite set of items to consciously choose from and purposefully interconnect. “Allocation” implies a bland, mechanistic, and deterministic procedure of apportioning one set of given items to another different set of given items. However, in real life only one set of items is “given” and the other set must be concocted out of nowhere.
The figure below shows four different types of functional allocations: shalls-to-functions, features-to-functions, functions-to-modules, and functions-to-subsystems. Each allocation example has a set of functions involved. In the first two examples, the set of functions have been allocated “to”, and in the last two examples, the set of functions have been allocated “from”.
So, again I ask, what is functional allocation? To managers who love to remove people from the loop and automate every activity they possibly can to reduce costs, can human beings ever be removed from the process of functional allocation? If you said no, then what can you do to help make the process of allocation more efficient?