Collaborative Product Development


  1. Introduction
  2. Identifying the Product Development Phases and Process Architecture
  3. Linking the Product Development Process with the Management Process
  4. Implementing, Using a Participative Concurrent Engineering Approach

1. Introduction

As North America’s manufacturers of engineered products continue to transform themselves to compete in the global economy, the ability to develop the new products customers want and deliver them faster and cheaper than competitors will be a prerequisite for survival.

In the next five years North American industry is expected to invest over $12 billion re-engineering the engineering process. Yet over 70% of process re-engineering projects fail to make a positive return on the investment.

Our experience implementing an Collaborative Product Development Process with manufacturers of engineered products has shown that there are three main steps to implementing IPD.

  • Identifying the Product Development Phases and Process Architecture
  • Linking the Product Development Process with the Management Process
  • Implementing Using a Participative Concurrent Engineering Approach

2. Identifying the Product Development Phases

There are between five and seven distinct phases in the development of engineered products, depending on the industry. Establishing clarity around these phases in the minds of your people is the first step to eliminating waste and developing a competitive advantage in your ability to bring products to market quickly and effectively. An important element in this process is educating your management on how Collaborative Product Development can help them achieve their long term financial and market goals by:

  • Introducing common terminology
  • Standardizing deliverables at each phase, sub phase and task
  • Defining critical milestone criteria for completing project phases

3. Linking the Product Development Process with the Management Process

Our methodology will help you build a management process that supports Collaborative Product Development. Using our Collaborative Enterprise Framework, we will show your management:

  • How to guide the culture change associated with implementing IPD
  • How to structure Project Management to utilize IPD deliverables to bring accountability while reducing overheads
  • How to structure your data to ease the implementation of Product Data Management technology
  • How to define the work that needs to be completed
  • How to define the deliverables that will be produced
  • Identify the skills necessary to complete the work
  • How long the work will take
  • How each piece of work relates to other work
  • How to establish program reviews and critical milestones
  • Identify how much the project will cost

All elements of the enterprise must be balanced and integrated for IPD to work.

4. Implementing, Using a Participative Concurrent Engineering Approach

The most important part of the implementation of Collaborative Product Development is people – a cross functional team consisting of Product Design and Manufacturing Engineers. It is their effort and commitment that will make a system work. It is for this reason that our approach is based upon the transfer of knowledge to your people. Working with management and staff, we can help you to educate your people, positively reinforce their efforts, develop an implementation plan, and manage the project.

Education and Training

Education and training are critical to the successful implementation of Collaborative Product Development. This spans from strategic workshops on the fundamentals of Collaborative Product Development to the essential mechanics of each element. Not only does education provide employees with the knowledge and tools to do their job, but done properly, it can reduce resistance to change.

Our experience is that companies usually under-estimate the amount of education and training required. We can provide a series of workshops to address the business issues related to Collaborative Product Development

Performance Measurement

People must work towards specific objectives. Therefore, performance measures must be clearly defined for key aspects of business processes impacted by the systems. We can assist in developing performance measures which can be used to monitor success in terms of the benefits used for justifying the investment.

Implementation Planning

Identifying the right project manager and assembling the team members are critical to successful implementation. To get their commitment to the project, they must believe that the goals and objectives of the project are realistic. Therefore, it is they who must develop the implementation plan.

We can work with your project team to:

  • Identify and understand technical issues that must be addressed
  • Determine the required activities and resources
  • Estimate completion dates for the activities

Project Management

The output of this process is a detailed implementation plan which can be used by management to coordinate the activities of the project team.

A common element to all Collaborative Product Development implementations is that people must change the way they work. Resistance, poor communication, turf guarding, low commitment, and non-supportive behaviour are significant causes of implementation failure. These must be overcome through effective project management.

We can work with your steering committee and project manager to address the following human aspects of Collaborative Product Development implementations:

  • Organizational design
  • Project communication
  • Team building
  • Conflict resolution