Design Structure Matrix (DSM) Implementation on a Seismic Retrofit

Stan J. Tuholski1 & Iris D. Tommelein2

1Doctoral Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering. Department, 407 McLaughlin Hall, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1712, Phone +1 925/423-6493, FAX +1 925/422-9455, [email protected]
2Director, Project Production Systems Laboratory and Professor, Civil and Env. Engineering. Department, 215-A McLaughlin Hall, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720- 1712, Phone +1 510/643-8678, FAX +1 510/643-8919, [email protected]


A void exists in the practical application and theoretical development of design theory methodologies within the structural engineering (SE) community. This void contributes to project performance deficiencies as characterized by, e.g., cost overruns, rework, and sub-optimal design. In the manufacturing sector, product design and production improvements have resulted from implementation of the design structure matrix (DSM) methodology. DSM offers a means to represent, analyse, and decompose complex systems in order to improve their performance. DSM has been used within the architecture engineering construction (AEC) industry and is becoming more readily available thanks to recent developments of project specific DSM scheduling software. DSM helps design teams streamline their processes (so that process steps can be executed sequentially) vs. identify situations when iteration is to be expected or group meetings can be called for brainstorming and rapid feedback. This paper examines a case study where DSM-based planning software was used on a seismic retrofit project. It demonstrates how lean practitioners can use DSM to fill the gap when translating a sticky-note schedule showing hand-offs into an activity network with various types of dependencies, and how that, in turn, can be translated into a schedule.


design, design structure matrix, DSM, lean construction, structural engineering, scheduling, dependence, oba, oobeya, big room, building information modeling (BIM), laser scanning



Tuholski, S. J. & Tommelein, I. D. 2008. Design Structure Matrix (DSM) Implementation on a Seismic Retrofit, 16th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 471-484.

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