The growing pressures from global competitive markets signal the inevitable challenge for companies to rapidly design and develop new successful products. To continually improve design quality and efficiency, companies must consider how to speed design processes, minimise human-errors, avoid unnecessary iterations, and sustain knowledge embedded in the design process. All of these issues strongly concern one topic: how to make and exploit records of design activities. Using process modelling ideas, this paper introduces a new method called component-based records, in place of traditional design reports. The proposed method records transaction elements of the actual design processes undertaken in a design episode, which aims to continually improve design quality and efficiency, reduce designers' workload for routine tasks, and sustain competitiveness of companies. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.