New product development concerns the management of the disciplines involved in the development of new products. These disciplines have developed their own perspectives of the subject of NPD. These are based largely on their experiences of involvement in the process. Hence, production management examines the development of new products from a manufacturing perspective: how can we most effectively manufacture the product in question. However, marketing takes a slightly different approach and is concerned with trying to understand the needs of the customer and how the business could meet these needs. Producing what the customer wants may or may not be either possible or profitable. The lack of a common approach to the development of new products is due to this multiple perspective. The variety of views is not a weakness. It should be viewed as a strength, for these different perspectives illuminate the areas that are left in the dark by other perspectives.
Usually, competition between companies is assessed using financial measures such as return on capital employed (ROCE), profits and market share. Non-financial measures, such as design, innovativeness and technological supremacy, may also be used.
Theoretically, it is possible for a firm to survive without any significant developments to its products, but such firms are exceptions to the norm. Where long-term success is dependent on the ability to compete with others, this is almost always achieved by ensuring that your company’s products are superior to the competition.
Product development as a series of decision
Within product development project, the authors divide the decisions into four categories: concept development; supply chain design; product design; and production ramp-up/launch.
Focusing on the study of Krishan and Uldrich (2001), within concept development there are five basic decisions to be made:
- What are the target values of the product attributes?
- What will the product concept be?
- What variants of the product will be offered?
- What is the product architecture?
- What will be the overall physical form and industrial design of the product?
Within the decisions surrounding supply chain design, Krishan and Uldrich (2001) argue that the following questions are key:
- Which components will be designed specifically for the product?
- Who will design and produce the product?
- What is the configuration of the physical supply chain?
- What type of process will be used to assemble the product?
- Who will develop and supply the process equipment?
Trott, P., 2008. Innovation management and new product development. Pearson education.