INTRODUCTION The design of the product to be manufactured and the specification of which manufacturing process to adopt are critical considerations for the productions and operations managers (Banjoko, 2009). Product and process technology is rapidly evolving. Competition is becoming more and more globally based. Customers are emphasizing improved quality and reliability, but reduced defense spending requires an emphasis on value and affordability. This dynamic and challenging environment requires the implementation of integrated product development concepts to reduce development cycle time and improve product quality and value.
Integrated Product Development (IPD) is based on the integrated design of products and manufacturing and support processes. It is not a matter of assessing the producibility, testability, supportability and quality of the product after it has been designed nor of focusing on related data item deliverables nor of extensive testing to improve quality or reliability. These approaches extend design cycle time, increase product development cost, and may not result in the most optimum way to produce and support the product.
Instead, all of the competitive factors or “ilities” must be considered from the very start of product development and designed into the product. The design of the product and the process must be integrated to assure a more optimum approach to manufacture and support the product. A product is defined as all things the buyer receives in an exchange, bad and good, intended and unintended. Products include all things the buyer receives including the physical attributes (a new car) and the intangible attributes (a warranty and a financing contract).
Given the rapid changes in consumer tastes, technology, innovation and competition, companies must develop a steady stream of new products and services. A firm can obtain new products in two ways: ? One is through acquisition—by buying a whole company, a patent, or a license to produce someone else’s product. ?The other is through new-product development in the company’s own research and development department. By new products I mean original products, product improvements, product modifications, and new brands that the firm develops through its own research and development efforts.
Various studies suggest that new-product success depends on developing a unique superior product, one with higher quality, new features, and higher value in use. Another key success factor is a well defined product concept prior to development, in which the company carefully defines and assesses the target market, the product requirements, and the benefits before proceeding. Other success factors have also been suggested—senior management commitment, relentless innovation, and a smoothly functioning new-product development process.
In all, to create successful new products, a company must understand its consumers, markets, and competitors and develop products that deliver superior value to customers. So companies face a problem—they must develop new products, but the odds weigh heavily against success. The solution lies in strong new-product planning and in setting up a systematic new-product development process for finding and growing new products. The ideal climate for NPD There are several characteristics that help describe an ideal climate for the new product development process. A list of these characteristics is as follows; ?
Goal clarity: the objectives of the task are jointly understood ? Resources: adequate economic and non-economic support for the task ? Encouragement: sincere emotional support for the task ?Freedom: the ability to explore whatever directions of inquiry that are needed ? Integrity: management does what it says it will do For a new product to come up to the production line of any mono- product company in Nigeria and any other nation of the world, the process involved are summarized as follows; Idea generation The idea generation stage is the first stage in the NPD.
However, in an organization with a healthy environment for creative thinking, new ideas abound, and only rarely is it necessary to have a formal meeting to generate ideas. New ideas flow from everyday activities within the organization. Ideally, idea generation should be fun and naturally occurring. This is why a formal meeting for idea generation should be somewhat of an oxymoron in healthy, creative organizations. Idea assessment Most organizations have extensive guidelines concerning the criteria for new product ideas. Some typical criteria are: potential estimated demand for the roduct, cost/revenue expectations, and fit with the organization’s business, production and marketing strategy. Many product ideas may not match with the firm’s current product line and there should be guidance about what to do if this happens. Some organizations broker or sell new product ideas that don’t entail serving current or planned future customer segments. Creative ideas are judged on two criteria: Novelty and Value (or utility). It has been found that business firms primarily put more importance on the expected economic returns (value) of a new idea than whether the idea is particularly novel or new.
However, in a context of the arts, this emphasis is usually reversed. That is, in the arts, judges often look to novelty first and value later. This point brings about an underlying problem in judging new ideas. Novelty can usually be judged fairly early on, whereas, value is sometimes difficult to assess for some time. In order to have a steady flow of new ideas, organizations must establish a clear understanding with personnel responsible for new product development how these two dimensions will be assessed. Concept testing
In this stage, employees play with the idea and have fun considering its potential. The rationale underlying concept testing is that organizations are much wiser to explore the idea thoroughly before actually building a physical prototype. If customers are involved in this stage, ‘projective techniques’ can often be used to illicit the opinions of customers about new product ideas without asking the customers directly. Idea Choice During this stage, the organization decides where its resources are best invested. A multiattribute model is often used to make such decisions.
The major criteria for choice are listed and an importance weight is assigned to each attribute. Then competing ideas are assessed on this basis. Obviously, this process requires a healthy climate for creativity and innovation within which employees can let go of personal ownership of ideas and judge the ideas on an objective basis. Idea prototype development During this stage working models of the new product are created to assess the feasibility of mass production of the product. We should note that the same activity could be engaged with services.
In fact, it is easier with services, usually, than with tangible products. For example, if a restaurant is in the process of developing new menu items, it can prepare different variations of the items and let the restaurant staff sample the items. In some cases a restaurant may maintain a panel of expert tasters comprised of current customers to assist in determining which new dishes to put on the menu. Final version development Because learning takes place in each stage of NPD, a final version of the product is created to assess whether or not to take the product into the full commercialization stage.
For example, in my restaurant example above, one can see that a trial run of preparing dishes from supply to delivery and sampling should take place to identify possible bottlenecks and problems in the process before an item is adopted for inclusion in the menu. In the case of physical products, this stage is usually worthwhile to identify possible problems but also to assess whether the organization should make a commitment to full commercialization. Commercialization After the organization has refined its production and distribution systems, it only remains to enter the commercialization stage.
This stage usually is implemented in small increments in order to further refine all systems involved in marketing the new product or service. A notable exception is when a firm seeks full-scale commercialization as soon as possible with its product or service. Examples of this strategy include new products for the cinema and products that are low in uniqueness and thus will be copied quickly by competitors if initially successful. Weaknesses of the NPD Process Various pitfalls can occur during the process of new product development.
An easy way to identify these barriers to new product development is to apply a CPS technique called the problem reversal technique and reverse the characteristics of an ideal climate described earlier considering the outcome of any of these characteristics being absent in the organization. The following list may help explain how an absence of these characteristics can discourage new product development. a. Lack of Goal clarity : the objectives of the task are not jointly understood, so people in the process are confused and disagree about what they are expected to accomplish b.
Lack of Resources : there is inadequate economic and non-economic support for the task so that the NPD process is doomed from its beginning. c. Lack of Encouragement : management does not provide sincere emotional support for the task thus employees on the NPD team feel unconnected and neglected by management feeling that no one values their activity. d. Lack of Freedom : absence of the ability to explore whatever directions of inquiry are needed. Members of the NPD team constantly feel restricted in considering novel approaches to problem solving because they may be seen by others as not relevant and too playful. e.
Lack of Integrity : management repeatedly fails to follow through on promises made, thus leaving members of the NPD team frustrated and neglected this if often the cause of total shutdown of creativity of the NPD team organizing for New Product Development just as everyone in the organization is responsible for customer satisfaction, everyone in the organization should be responsible for new product ideas. The task of conceptualizing ideas about new products should not be reserved for the few people who are members of the NPD teams. Primary success in managing the NPD Process has been realized through the use of Cross-functional Teams.
These groups are comprised of people with different educational backgrounds and different organizational areas, which make them more productive, and more challenging to conduct at the same time. For example, an organization’s NPD team must have members from most organizational functions including design, engineering, marketing, manufacturing, and finance. While this approach introduces the potential for more chaotic group meetings, it also introduces the potential for a rich cauldron for the creation of ideas. PRODUCT LIFE- CYCLE STAGES AND STRATEGIES
As mentioned earlier in this write up, types of the new products include mainly two categories either to introduce totally new product like entirely new product for the world or increasing the product line. Second way is sometimes modifications in the existing product are adopted like existing product is repositioned or strategies are formulated to improve the products. For a mono- product firm, it can only improve on its existing product line as a process of its own new product development. It can neither increase its product line nor introduce a totally new product to the world, but also follows the processes;
Consumer Adoption Process Stages in the Adoption Process are as follows; 1. Awareness. In this stage the consumer is aware of the new product but lacks further information about it. 2. Interest. The consumer is motivated to seek information about the new product. 3. Evaluation. The consumer determines whether or not to try the new product. 4. Trial. The consumer tries the new product on a small scale to test its efficacy in meeting his or her needs. Trial can be imagined use of the product in some cases. 5. Adoption. The consumer decides to make use of the product on a regular basis.
Individual differences in the adoption of innovations 1. Innovators. Innovators help get the product exposure but are not often perceived by the majority of potential buyers as typical consumers. 2. Early Adopters. This group serves as opinion leaders to the rest of the market. 3. Early Majority. Some 34% of the market that is the “typical consumer” but likely to adopt innovations a little sooner. 4. Late Majority. This group is skeptical and adopts innovations only after most of the market has accepted the product. 5. Laggards. This group is suspicious of change and adopts only after the product is no longer considered an innovation.
Product Life-Cycle Strategies After launching the new product or modification of the existing product, management wants the product to enjoy a long and happy life. Although it does not expect the product to sell forever, the company wants to earn a decent profit to cover all the effort and risk that went into its production and launching. Management is aware that the product will have a life cycle, although the exact shape and length is not known in advance. A typical product life cycle (PLC) has five distinct stages: a) Product development begins when the company finds and develops a new-product idea.
During product development, sales are zero and the company’s investment costs mount. b) Introduction is a period of slow sales growth as the product is introduced newly in the market. Profits are nonexistent in this stage because of the heavy expenses of product introduction. c) Growth is a period of rapid market acceptance and increasing profits. This stage also attracts competitors as other investors and producers see the product as being lucrative. d) Maturity stage The stage in the product life cycle in which sales growth slows or levels off. ) Decline stage The product life-cycle stage in which a product’s sales decline. At the stage, the product will be facing extinction from the market and nothing should be done to resuscitate the product, it should rather be allowed to die naturally. Bibliography Banjoko S. A, Production and Operations Management (Republish edition, 2009) Principle of Marketing –MGT301 VU @copyright Virtual University of Pakistan Ulrich, Karl T. and Eppinger, Steven D(2004) Product Design and Development, 3rd Edition, McGraw- Hill, New York, 2004. www. product-testing. com