Managing New Product Development

No doubt, there are as many ways to manage the development of a new product as there are new products to be developed.

The appropriate management process is dependent on many factors including:

  1. Technical complexity of the project
  2. The size of the development team
  3. Corporate and Regulatory procedural requirements

Basic Elements:

Independent of these factors, many of the basic elements of new product development management remain the same, such as:

  1. Definition of requirements (functional and commercial)
  2. Setting project milestones, costs & schedule
  3. Concept generation
  4. Alternatives analysis / risk assessment
  5. Preliminary design
  6. Production cost tracking
  7. Initial prototyping and performance assessment
  8. Manufacturability / cost/ lead time analysis
  9. Design refinement
  10. Selection of manufacturing sources
  11. Refined prototyping and performance assessment
  12. Final design and specifications
  13. Manufacturing support

Concurrent activities:

  1. Manufacturer interface
  2. Documentation
  3. Reviews

Serial vs. Parallel:

The basic management elements of new product development may be addressed serially, in parallel, or through some combination of the two.

Serial development (one activity following another) provides the most control over progression of events during the program.  If any one element in the new product development process is deemed impractical, the program can be canceled or further action delayed until that challenge is overcome.  However, by waiting to address each element in its turn, one does not have the opportunity to anticipate downstream challenges until the problematic element is reached in the development process.  Solution to a later challenge may require revising one or more previous steps.  The further one gets down the list of activities the more time consuming and expensive it is to make corrections to previous steps.
Parallel development (undertaking activities concurrently) offers the opportunity to foresee a broad range potential challenges early in the program when adjustments to concurrent activities are less expensive and time consuming.   The downside to parallel development is that it requires close coordination between the activities if all elements are to proceed in concert.  Development can proceed at a faster pace, but a greater number of resources are put at risk should there be an insurmountable challenge.
Generally, the most effective approach to management of new product development is a combination of serial and parallel paths; addressing the pivotal issues such as technical feasibility and cost prediction concurrently, while postponing some activities until the process has reached the stage of technical soundness and preliminary economic feasibility.
An experienced Product Design and Engineering company will establish New Product Development Management format appropriate for the specific product development situation.
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