Product development is a complex series of inter-reactions between marketing requirements, engineering challenges and production constraints. Success depends on the management of these factors to get the best possible result. The purpose of this document is to allow you to examine how projects are managed and implemented at the moment, and identify ways of improving your approach in the future.
The first stage of the process is to ‘benchmark’ where your design management is now, based on four levels of performance (from poor to high quality). The process involves selecting one of four statements and deciding, as honestly as possible, which one represents your current approach, and which one you aspire to. It is best if the members of your management team agree on a consensus for each of these issues (which may be an interesting exercise in its own right!), but the audit documents can also be filled in individually and collated later. This stage concludes with a summary page where you can note down opportunities to improve performance to take it to the level you would like it to reach.
The second stage uses a similar approach to look at the design of one of your products under several different headings. Each statement about the product has four options, from poor to great performance, and again, it is best if it is completed as a ‘consensus exercise’ by you and your team. This stage concludes with a summary of each section, a table that allows you to note down major areas for improvement, and a time planner to identify short, medium and long term opportunities for action. The findings and actions from this stage will inform future product development projects and help you achieve the best possible return from your investment.
The third stage of the process looks at opportunities for product diversification within your company. Diversification is one of the most efficient and profitable ways of improving revenue, particularly if your company has technology or know-how that can be directly applied to other markets. Many companies have this opportunity without ever looking at it!
Like the other sections, this stage asks your team to rank statements in one of four categories. It concludes with a table that allows you to list opportunities for diversification in seven different categories.
The actions in this guide will take some time and effort, but the potential benefits are significant in terms of management efficiency, development lead times and fundamental profitability.
We hope you find it useful!