The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…
Robert Burns’ poetic words ring as true today as they did when he penned them in 1785.
This is especially true if you’re in the business of bringing new consumer products to market. Even with a disciplined, phase-gate project methodology in place, often you end up with a design prototype just before launch that scantly resembles the winning concept(s) blessed further upstream.
Why? Because the prototype misses the mark on any number of consumer, technical, and/or financial success criteria defined for the project in the marketing and design briefs, when your “best laid plans” were formulated. And too frequently just before launch you find yourself scrambling to make the design work, often at a significant capital cost.
So what to do?
Product developers know and accept that design changes are imminent. Consumer preferences, market dynamics, global economic conditions, supply chain capabilities, and production technologies are a few variables that could justify modifications to the design of a product as it moves through the phase-gate continuum. So eliminating design modifications in the new product development and introduction (NPDI) process is not a realistic option nor advised.
This predicament is significant, not because change is happening in the design, but because there’s no visibility to the impact of those changes on the marketability, manufacturability, and financial viability of the design until much too late in the NPDI process.
This is exacerbated by fragmented internal IT systems for managing design elements and the common practice of outsourcing design to our supply chain partners who have their own isolated systems.
But what if there was a way to see in real-time how proposed product design changes will impact the success of your new product? Specifically, from the perspective of the elements that matter to you most: the consumer, technical, and financial success criteria you defined in the project charter. Further, what if you had such visibility even if the proposed changes are coming from your supply chain partners?
A way to accomplish this is with Dassault Systemes’ Fit-For-Use Design Engine. It gives you visibility to the impact of every product design change in real-time. You define the consumer, technical, and financial success criteria for the project through the marketing and design brief (including the acceptable variance for each criteria), and the Fit-For-Use Engine measures how each design stacks up against those criteria in real-time, displaying the results in an intuitive, dashboard format.
Learning early and often through the design phase of a project – and being nimble enough to adjust prior to final design – is the way to go.
Sounds like a fruitful way to embrace change to me. What do you think?