Both New Product Development Professionals (NPDP) and Professional Engineering Managers (PEM) are tasked with transforming ideas into commercial realities. In many instances, hope is the main tool deployed to make the transition – we hope to make the technology work and we hope to hit the delivery date. We hope that customer will buy lots and lots of the product and we hope to reap huge profits as a reward.
I am personally a big believer in hoping for the best but as we’ve been taught, we should also add preparation to out toolkit. A positive attitude goes a long way but should be accompanied by a systematic approach to convert those great ideas into marketable products and services. One approach that NPDPs and PEMs can use to transform creative ideas into tangible goods is Integrated Product Development (IPD).
History of IPD
IPD is a waterfall process based on cross-functional, multi-disciplinary approach to product development. In fact, “integrated” means just that – an integrated team and an integrated life cycle perspective of the development program.
For reference, IPD has its roots in software development from the last century. In the 1970s, waterfall processes were commonly used to create code that powered PCs and other computers. A waterfall process is so named because work flows from one level to the next, just as a stream cascades over rocks and ledges to reach its destination.
A typical waterfall process includes the following steps:
- Requirements development;
- Design specifications based on requirements;
- Implementing or writing and structuring of the actual code;
- Verification that the product (software code) meets customer expectations; and
- Maintenance to identify bug fixes and improvements.
Another key concept in IPD comes from the principle of concurrent engineering. In unenlightened times, R&D folks would develop a new technology and then hand-off that technology to an engineering team. The engineering team would study the technology and scale it up to production levels. Then, the engineering team would hand-off the full-scale engineering design to a construction team to build the factory. Upon completion of the factory, operations would begin start-up of the plant to eventually manufacture the product.
Not surprisingly, hand-offs between the teams were incomplete and both data and knowledge were lost in the transitions. Sometimes the transitions were so poor that the next internal customer had to rework the technology and design completely. Naturally, all of these hand-offs and rework cycles created delays and added cost to the final product.
The concept of concurrent engineering grew in the aerospace industry in the 1990s in order to improve quality and time-to-market. Concurrent engineering describes a systematic approach to new product development (NPD) in which multi-disciplinary teams work together, from start to finish, on the product. There are no hand-offs between functional departments because the work is integrated. Manufacturing and support organizations participate in product conceptualization and design specification. Furthermore, the entire product life cycle is examined during development as a part of concurrent engineering (design, manufacturability, reliability, and disposal).
Example IPD System
An example of an IPD system is Intel’s Product Development Framework which is applied across the corporation (“Making the Product Development Framework” by CR Galluzo and Deanna Bolton, 2011). Here the IPD system involves four steps, each of which include appropriate milestones and approvals.
Another example of an IPD system, familiar to PEMs, is systems engineering which involves multi-disciplinary teams determining customer requirements upfront and following a structured development process.
The Basics of IPD
Integrated Product Development (IPD) is contrasted with serial development processes in which project hand-offs occur during the project life cycle. IPD is a water process in that specific stages of work must be completed before the next stage of work is initiated. While serial development can be successful for lengthy and complex projects, integrated teams and concurrent engineering aid in developing products with shorter life cycles and lower cost of investment.
To learn more about IPD, please join us for an NPDP workshop where we discuss several alternative processes for developing new products including serial and integrated teams, waterfall and Agile approaches. Contact me at [email protected] or 281-280-8717 to enroll in a free NPDP overview course or any of our newly scheduled PMP, Scrum, or NPDP workshops in Houston as well as our online PDH courses. At Simple-PDH.com where we want to help you gain and maintain your professional certifications. You can study, learn, and earn – it’s simple!
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