This article reviews fundamental concepts and analytical techniques of design structure matrix (DSM) as well as recent development of DSM studies. The DSM is a matrix representation of relationships between components of a complex system, such as products, development organizations and processes. Depending on targets of analysis, there are four basic types of DSM: Component-based DSM, Team-based DSM, Task-based DSM, and Parameter-based DSM.
There are two streams of recent DSM studies: 1) optimization of product design and organizational structure and 2) optimization of development process. The former employs clustering, whereas the latter does partitioning.
The advantages of the DSMs, compared with other analysis tools, are its conciseness, completeness, and operationality. However, DSMs are not a panacea. The article also discusses some constraints of the DSMs, such as its vulnerability to unknown dependency between components, a static nature of the analytical approach, and relatively weak implications for organizational learning.