When faced with a design problem, engineers make quick decisions about which tasks to perform. Many of these decisions are ad hoc or even look arbitrary. However, what engineers are actually doing is to apply creative thinking to relate the current situation to their tacit knowledge. In this sense, engineers use their experience on similar problems to come up with creative solutions.
This might involve looking at the data from the current project as well as data from previous projects. These data can consist both of artifacts (e.g., specifications, sketches, emails) and tasks (e.g., changes on artifacts, applied methods).
However, retrieving previous experiences and insights depends on one’s ability to recall data timely and in enough level of detail.
Except for certain types of data that are kept on versioning systems (source code and specifications), most project data are unstructured, e.g., lack categories or dependencies. Hence, this makes it difficult for engineers to accurately and unobtrusively retrieve most data.