There is a chapter in the Stamatis book, "Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, FMEA from theory to Execution" ISBN 0-87389-300-X. Stamatis says "A system FMEA usually is accomplished through a series of steps to include conceptual design, detail design and development, and test and evaluation...The design in this phase is an evolutionary process involving the application of various technologies and methods to produce an effective system ouput. The results will be used as an input for the design FMEA...The focus in this stage is to transform an operational need into a description of system performance parameters and as perfect as possible system configuration through the use of an interactive process of functional analysis, synthesis, optimization, design, test, and evaluation."
I am at present facilitating workshops for Systems FMEAs on a new car platform. The approach I have taken is to treat each component/sub-system as a black box and try to concentrate on the system interactions.
Historically, people (okay engineers!) are good at doing their thing, but are not good at communication to others.
SFMEA makes them consider how their product affects the entire system as a whole and like a DFMEA can look at potential failures, effect, and possible design controls.
If anyone has any other comments or viewpoints I would be glad to hear them.