Product efficiency and profitability is threatened by “wastes” that slow down and degrade the efficiency of product development. Lack of available resources and clear prioritization of projects, poorly defined product requirements, little to no communication, over-designing and not enough consideration for the manufacturing of a product are some of the wastes commonly encountered.
Lean Product Development will help you overcome these challenges, decrease costs and speed up time-to-market through a series of events that simplify collaboration and design optimization; emphasize managing risks to schedule, cost, performance and quality; and provide simple, visual tools to track progress, set priorities, and solve problems.
The structured process is designed to assist any organization in developing new products. It is conducted as a series of five to eight separate events with a continuum of development over the entire period. The duration of each event is two to three days, each depending on the complexity of the product and market, and the extent of development activity that occurs between each event. The events are:
Project Kick Off: In this event, a basic project plan is established, milestones are defined, a risk mitigation plan is developed, and initial actions needed are determined. This is where the business case is reviewed (developed if not done ahead of time) so it is clear to everyone why this project was selected over others. It will cover simple tools such as NPV analysis, identification of where this product falls in the overall roadmap of the company’s products. What constitutes a ‘great opportunity’ for the company. If there is a technology roadmap, then that is created as well. Establishing a high level timeline as well as that overall goals of the product development effort, who the supporting staff/efforts that will be needed, and who the team leaders/ primary team members are. What is the communication plan for ongoing communication, as well as, the identification of roles and responsibilities of the members and organizational support staff. High level risk management, are there specific death threats that potentially exist to the project.
Market Requirements Event: Your team will define market needs and segmentation, and translate customer needs intro prioritized design requirements and features. This is where you actually create the marketing requirements brief including identification of market size, sales targets (year 1-3) customers, target cost, key requirements etc. The point of this is to ensure that there is factual data that actually supports what is being developed, the key being ‘factual’ as opposed to hearsay. The market requirements brief is designed to be the starting point of the development effort. It is NOT technical specifications, unless that is a critical market requirement, rather a definition of what it is that the product is supposed to do. The intent is to not get buried into the engineering minutia that pre-supposes technical solutions. The participants are generally; marketing, sales, engineering, finance. Sometimes this event is rolled up with the kickoff event. If a lot of the market requirements have already been gathered then part of the activity is identification of the must/should/could have requirements.
Cost Optimization Event(s): These events provide a structured process to reduce the overall cost of design while maintaining the integrity of the product and its ability to meet market needs. These events will incorporate the three P’s:
- Design 3P focuses on innovative ways of reducing the cost of the design
- Process 3P analyzes the manufacturing process and the design from a production perspective
- Production 3P finalizes the product design and process/manufacturing plan with the intent of identifying opportunities for continuing cost reduction
These projects are usually sprinkled throughout the program but might require one or more events especially if there is a target cost overrun issue. These focus on identification of where/what is driving the cost of the product and what alternatives might exist to reduce the costs during the design phase rather than hoping for a cost reduction at the end in production. Alternative concepts are evaluated from a cost, DFM, DFS perspectives to ensure that the decisions and choices being made do not result in higher costs either in production or in service or maintainability. Cost management and review of the business case occurs continuously along the process so the target cost is always front and center. These events are aimed at really targeting cost reduction efforts and identifying where they need to be.
Design Review Event: At this event your team will evaluate the concept design and conduct design and cost validation, ensuring the product is ready for design freeze and are set in stone. The production prototype data is review, design elements are frozen and the event is focused on identifying further opportunities for design improvements (that DO NOT increase the cost). Decisions are being made on ordering of long lead time items. Cost validation of items and other assumptions are no longer assumptions at this point.
Production Readiness Event: This event will ensure the transition to product manufacturing will run smoothly. A factory layout that optimizes time, space and flow will be evaluated. A complete understanding of the supply chain, testing and evaluation procedures, as well as production metrics, will be set, and a comprehensive launch plan will be developed.
- New product development focused on customer-defined requirements
- More efficient utilization of designers and developers
- Increased profits generated per hour of design time
- Increased collaboration and communication within design team, and with operations
- Increased profit margins through cost-reduction initiatives
- Decreased Time-to-Market