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A trade study or trade-off study is a engineering tool that is used to supports decision making  Trade study result documents the scope, requirements, assumptions, criteria and solutions used for a decision. This tool is very useful since the new information frequently comes, changes and decisions are re-evaluated.

trade study trade-off

In a trade study an objective comparison with respect to performance, cost, schedule, risk, and all other reasonable criteria of all realistic alternative requirements such as architectures; baselines; or design, verification, manufacturing, deployment, training, operations, support, or disposal approaches.

Trade studies or trade-off study are the graphical tool and  common decision-support tools that are used throughout the project lifecycle to capture and help assess alternatives. It is broadly classified into qualitative and quantitative.

Common steps in the trade study process are:

  • Define the objectives
  • Review inputs, including the constraints and assumptions
  • Select the evaluation criteria and their relative importance
  • Identify the alternatives
  • Assess the performance of each option for each criteria
  • Compare the results and choose an option
  • Document the trade study process and its results


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