Driving the Digital Wave: Empower Next Generation Product Development

Nowadays, half of the product launches fail to continue with companies’ expectations. According to the earlier study by Booz & Company, they discovered that about 70 percent of the resources spent on new launches are allocated to products that are not thriving in the market. The traditional, shuttered product design process — what we call as the first-generation strategy — is stiff and straight, securing customer preferences, potential risks, and other features at the start of the process.

Lean product development techniques, a second-generation strategy that many companies have utilized in recent years, reduce waste and increase efficiency, but they also secure product attributes too early and limit innovation.

To prepare unique product design, organizations need to select a third-generation strategy — a more agile product development system capable of addressing various iterations of multiple design options early in the process, based on continuous testing and extremely advanced customer-driven design changes.

This method, which both supports flexibility and understands the unpredictability of the early stages of product development, ensures that the last part of the cycle is much less ambiguous, allowing companies to deliver more successful products to market at lower cost, and with less delays.

The shuttered approach has wasted some of its luster in recent years. Many organizations have substituted it with lean product development, which focuses on eradicating waste and improving speed-to-market. Organizations implementing lean techniques add continuous touch points with customers so they can examine product concepts, prototypes, and features along with the development and release cycle.

In doing so, they decrease cycle time by as much as 30 percent compared to the gated approach, as well as reduced development costs by as much as 40 percent and achieved exciting gains in first-time quality.

We understand that a modern, third-generation process is crucial for success: one that utilizes agile product development techniques at the front end and lean approaches at the back end. The purpose of agile product development is to deliver rapid and frequent iterations with multiple design options upfront — driven by continuous testing and smooth customer analyses — in order to maximize, balance, and prioritize requirements and recognize risks earlier. This initial stage of the process has four primary characteristics.

Organizations create multiple concepts, and in a span of weeks, rather than months, test product prototypes with customers. As the results come in, cross-functional product development teams — design, engineering, acquisition, manufacturing, and sales and marketing, among others — function together in problem-solving sessions to produce a design based on customer responses and the new concepts that these responses generate.

As cross-functional teams quickly emphasize and integrate product ideas and concepts, more often not to plunge into the design process unveils potential development risks. With this knowledge, teams can prioritize potential risks and consolidate risk reduction plans such as focused lead-customer research and early engineering assessments into the development plan, while scheduling regular test events to confirm that risks have been addressed.

By dividing a product concept into modules, organizations can give sub-teams the ability to work out the best set of solutions for the ultimate design and building of their part of the project, including materials, interfaces, or potential problem spots. Supplied with this input, design teams meet the modules to set the plans for the next iteration of the product.

Organizations that achieve the next-generation product development model experience important results, well beyond what they could require with either the shuttered or the lean approach. However, it’s not a simple process. It needs significant behavioral change for most organizations, which solely makes rapid transformation absurd.

Success with the agile front-end approach is reliant on a highly collaborative organizational culture, following the idea that most disruptive innovations come from outside the organization. To fix this culture and outpace competitors, organizations must simultaneously outpost, filter, and channel global sources of technology, abilities, and solutions as well as recommendations from suppliers.

Possibly most important, organizations need to understand that delivery of differentiated products requires a profound modern customer knowledge. Product teams must contribute an ample amount of time in the field, recognizing customers using their products in real-life situations.

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