New product development models

Models are classified info these categories:

Department stage models

This represents the early form of NPD models. It is based around the linear model of innovation, where each department is responsible for certain tasks. Usually, they are represented in the following way, R&D provides the interesting technical ideas; engineering department will then take the ideas and develop possible prototypes; the manufacturing development will explore possible ways to produce a viable product capable of mass manufacture; then the marketing department will be brought in to plan and conduct the launch. Such models are also referred to as “over-the-wall” models, so called because departments would carry their tasks before throwing the project over the wall to the next department.

It is now understood that this insular view of the process hinders the development of new products. The process is usually characterised by a great deal of reworking and consultation between functions. Additionally, market research provides continual inputs to the process. Moreover, control of the project changes on a department basis, depending on which department currently is engaged in it.

Activity stage models and concurrent engineering

These are similar to department-stage models, but because they emphasize activities conducted, they provide a better representation of reality. They also facilitate iteration of the activities through the use of feedback loops. Most recent activity-stage models (Crawford and Benedetto, 2014) have highlighted the simultaneous nature of the activities within NPD process, hence emphasizing the need for cross-functional approach.

Cross-functional models (teams)

Common problems that occur within the product development process revolve around communications between different departments. Additionally, projects frequently are passed back and forth between functions. Moreover, at each interface, the project would undergo increased changes, hence lengthening the product development process. The cross-functional teams approach removed many of these limitations by having a dedicated project team representing people from a variety of functions. The use of cross-functional teams requires a fundamental modification to an organisation’s structure. In particular, it places emphasis on the use of project management and interdisciplinary teams.

Decision stage models

Decision-stage models represent the new product development process as a series of decisions that need to be taken in order to progress the project (Cooper and Edgett, 2008). They also facilitate iteration through the use of feedback loops.

Stage-gate process is a widely employed product development process that divides the effort into distinct time-sequenced stages separated by management decision gates. Multifunctional teams must successfully complete a predescribed set of related cross-functional tasks in each stage prior to obtaining management approval to proceed to the next stage of product development. The framework of this process includes work-flow and decision-flow paths and defines the supporting systems and practices necessary to ensure the ongoing smooth operation of the process.

Over the course of an NPD process, managers learn about a new product project so as to ensure successful launch. The view is that a new product project is shaped by the path of NPD activities that it has travelled. Because learning is assumed to take place over the course of the NPD process, stage-to-stage information dependence can occur. This can trap managers rather than create effective learning from the end to end development process. For example: errors from previous models can be locked in. Other stage-gate process limitations include:

  • The process is sequential and can be slow
  • It is focused on end gates rather than on the customer
  • Product concepts can be stopped or frozen too early
  • There is a risk of information dependency
  • At each stage within the process a low level of knowledge held by gatekeeper can lead to poor judgements being made on the project

Conversion-process models

These models view new product development as numerous inputs into a “black-box” where they are converted into an output (Schon, 1967). For example: inputs could be customer requirements, technical ideas and manufacturing capability and the output would be the product.

Response models

These use a behaviourist approach to analyse change (Becker and Whisler, 1967). In particular, response models focus on the individual’s or organisation’s response to a new project proposal or new idea.

Network models

These models emphasise the process of accumulation of knowledge from a variety of sources such as marketing, R&D and manufacturing. Knowledge is built up gradually over time as the project progresses from initial idea (technical breakthrough or market opportunity) through development.

Trott, P., 2008. Innovation management and new product development. Pearson education.

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