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In business and engineering, new product development (NPD) covers the complete process of bringing a new product to market. New product development is described in the literature[which?] as the transformation of a market opportunity into a product available for sale. The product can be tangible (something physical which one can touch) or intangible (like a service, experience, or belief). A good understanding of customer needs and wants, of the competitive environment and of the nature of the market represents the top required factor for the success of a new product. Cost, time and quality are the main variables that drive customer needs. Aiming at these three variables, companies develop continuous practices and strategies to better satisfy customer requirements and to increase their own market share by a regular development of new products. There are many uncertainties and challenges which companies must face throughout the process. The use of best practices and the elimination of barriers to communication are the main concerns for the management of the NPD process.
The product development process typically consists of several activities that firms employ in the complex process of delivering new products to the market. A process management approach is used to provide a structure for NPD consistency and to enable continuous improvement. Every new product will pass through a series of stages from ideation through design, manufacturing and market introduction. In highly engineered products (aircraft, automotive, machinery) that deals with complexity the NPD process passes through phases, milestones and deliverables management requiring an equally complex organizational system to manage the process. The more complex the product the more complex the NPD process and management system. Complex NPD processes especially in military aircraft projects use an integrated product team approach. The process for managing large sale complex engineering products is much slower (10 plus years) than that deployed for fast moving consumer goods (weeks).
The product development process basically has four main phases:
The front-end marketing phases have been very well researched, with valuable models proposed. Peter Koen et al. provides a five-step front-end activity called front-end innovation: opportunity identification, opportunity analysis, idea genesis, idea selection, and idea and technology development. He also includes an engine in the middle of the five front-end stages and the possible outside barriers that can influence the process outcome. The engine represents the management driving the activities described. The front end of the innovation is the greatest area of weakness in the NPD process. This is mainly because the FFE is often chaotic, unpredictable and unstructured.[dead link] Engineering design is the process whereby a technical solution is developed iteratively to solve a given problem The design stage is very important because at this stage most of the product life cycle costs are engaged. Previous research shows that 70-80% of the final product quality and 70% of the product entire life-cycle cost are determined in the product design phase, therefore the design-manufacturing interface represent the greatest opportunity for cost reduction. Design projects last from a few weeks to three years with an average of one year. Design and Commercialization phases usually start a very early collaboration. When the concept design is finished it will be sent to manufacturing plant for prototyping, developing a Concurrent Engineering approach by implementing practices such as QFD, DFM/DFA and more. The output of the design (engineering) is a set of product and process specifications - mostly in the form of drawings, and the output of manufacturing is the product ready for sale. Basically, the design team will develop drawings with technical specifications representing the future product, and will send it to the manufacturing plant to be executed. Solving product/process fit problems is of high priority in information communication design because 90% of the development effort must be scrapped if any changes are made after the release to manufacturing.
Conceptual models have been designed in order to facilitate a smooth process. The concept adopted by IDEO, a successful design and consulting firm, is one of the most researched processes in regard to new product development and is a five-step procedure. These steps are listed in chronological order:
One of the first developed models that today companies still use in the NPD process is the Booz, Allen and Hamilton (BAH) Model, published in 1982. This is the best known model because it underlies the NPD systems that have been put forward later. This model represents the foundation of all the other models that have been developed afterwards. Significant work has been conducted in order to propose better models, but in fact these models can be easily linked to BAH model. The seven steps of BAH model are: new product strategy, idea generation, screening and evaluation, business analysis, development, testing, and commercialization.
A pioneer of NPD research in the consumers goods sector is Robert G. Cooper. Over the last two decades he conducted significant work in the area of NPD. The Stage-Gate model developed in the 1980s was proposed as a new tool for managing new products development processes. This was mainly applied to the consumers goods industry. The 2010 APQC benchmarking study reveals that 88% of U.S. businesses employ a stage-gate system to manage new products, from idea to launch. In return, the companies that adopt this system are reported to receive benefits such as improved teamwork, shorter cycle time, improved success rates, earlier detection of failure, a better launch, and even shorter cycle times - reduced by about 30%. These findings highlight the importance of the stage-gate model in the area of new product development.
Over the last few years, the Lean Startup movement has grown in popularity, challenging many of the assumptions inherent in the stage-gate model.
There have been a number of approaches proposed for analyzing and responding to the marketing challenges of new product development. Two of these are the eight stages process of Peter Koen of the Stevens Institute of Technology, and a process known as the fuzzy front end.
The Fuzzy Front End (FFE) is the messy "getting started" period of new product engineering development processes. It is in the front end where the organization formulates a concept of the product to be developed and decides whether or not to invest resources in the further development of an idea. It is the phase between first consideration of an opportunity and when it is judged ready to enter the structured development process (Kim and Wilemon, 2007; Koen et al., 2001). It includes all activities from the search for new opportunities through the formation of a germ of an idea to the development of a precise concept. The Fuzzy Front End phase ends when an organization approves and begins formal development of the concept.
Although the Fuzzy Front End may not be an expensive part of product development, it can consume 50% of development time (see Chapter 3 of the Smith and Reinertsen reference below), and it is where major commitments are typically made involving time, money, and the product's nature, thus setting the course for the entire project and final end product. Consequently, this phase should be considered as an essential part of development rather than something that happens "before development," and its cycle time should be included in the total development cycle time.
Koen et al. distinguish five different front-end elements (not necessarily in a particular order):
The Fuzzy Front End is also described in literature[by whom?] as "Front End of Innovation", "Phase 0", "Stage 0" or "Pre-Project-Activities".
A universally acceptable definition for Fuzzy Front End or a dominant framework has not been developed so far. In a glossary of PDMA, it is mentioned that the Fuzzy Front End generally consists of three tasks: strategic planning, idea generation, and, especially, pre-technical evaluation. These activities are often chaotic, unpredictable, and unstructured. In comparison, the subsequent new product development process is typically structured, predictable, and formal. The term Fuzzy Front End was first popularized by Smith and Reinertsen (1991). R.G. Cooper (1988) describes the early stages of NPPD as a four-step process in which ideas are generated (I), subjected to a preliminary technical and market assessment (II) and merged to coherent product concepts (III) which are finally judged for their fit with existing product strategies and portfolios (IV).
Other authors have divided predevelopment product development activities differently:
These activities yield essential information to make a Go/No-Go to Development decision.
One of the earliest studies using the case study method defined the front-end to include the interrelated activities of:
A conceptual model of Front-End Process was proposed which includes early phases of the innovation process. This model is structured in three phases and three gates:
The gates are:
The final gate leads to a dedicated new product development project. Many professionals and academics consider that the general features of Fuzzy Front End (fuzziness, ambiguity, and uncertainty) make it difficult to see the FFE as a structured process, but rather as a set of interdependent activities ( e.g. Kim and Wilemon, 2002). However, Husig et al., 2005  argue that front-end not need to be fuzzy, but can be handled in a structured manner. In fact Carbone  showed that when using the front end success factors in an integrated process, product success is increased. Peter Koen argues that in the FFE for incremental, platform and radical projects, three separate strategies and processes are typically involved. The traditional Stage Gate (TM) process was designed for incremental product development, namely for a single product. The FFE for developing a new platform must start out with a strategic vision of where the company wants to develop products and this will lead to a family of products. Projects for breakthrough products start out with a similar strategic vision, but are associated with technologies which require new discoveries.
Incremental, platform and breakthrough products include:
|This section may need to be rewritten entirely to comply with Wikipedia's quality standards, as it consists of lists, where coherent text should be. Phrasing is sometimes confused / confusing at best. (September 2014)|
 Companies must take a holistic approach to managing this process and must continue to innovate and develop new products if they want to grow and prosper.
A thorough understanding of customers' needs and wants, the competitive situation, and the nature of the market is an essential component of new product success.
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