Product and process technology is rapidly evolving. Competition is becoming
more global. Customers are placing an increasing emphasis on quality and
reliability, but at the same time looking for good value. Speed to market
is becoming a paradigm of world class manufacturing. To respond to this
increasingly dynamic and challenging environment, manufacturers are implementing
integrated product development (IPD) concepts to reduce design cycle time
and improve product value.
Integrated product development is based on the integrated design of products
and their manufacturing and support processes. It is not a matter of assessing
manufacturability, reliability, and supportability of the product after
it has been designed and making appropriate changes to the design to enhance
these competitive factors. This approach extends the design cycle time,
increases product development cost, and may not result in the most optimum
way to produce the product. Instead, these factors must be considered from
the very start of product development and designed into the product.
However, as organizations have grown in size and sophistication, personnel
have become geographically spread out and the organization has evolved into
narrower functional specializations to master the complexity of today's
product development process. Product development teams are a way to re-organize
personnel involved in product development to facilitate informal communication,
sharing of requirements, constraints and ideas early in the product development
cycle. The result will be the parallel design of product and process and
the early consideration of the constraints and factors that impact the successful
development of competitive products.
ORGANIZATION AND TEAMS
Early involvement and parallel design are key objectives of integrated product
development. The achievement of these objectives is dependent upon how people
work together and organize product and process development activities. As
a result, organizational approaches are critical to the success of integrated
As a company grows larger and products become more complex, hierarchical
organizations structures build to manage the increasingly large organization
size, the technical complexity of the product, and the specialization that
evolves to master this complexity. Another factor that occurs in organizational
growth is the geographic dispersion of people and functional departments.
These factors inhibit many of the informal relationships that previously
provided effective communication and coordination between functional disciplines.
A hierarchical organization structure with enterprise activities directed
by functional managers becomes incapable of coordinating the many steps
to provide effective early involvement and parallel design. Cross-functional
product development teams (PDT) / integrated product teams (IPT) are a way
to breakdown this organizational complexity and put together the necessary
skills and resources to support more effective product and process development.
Product development teams / integrated product teams are formed with personnel
from different functional departments to support the design, development
and transition to production of a new product. These teams provide a mechanism
to facilitate earlier involvement of the key functions that are involved
in the design, production and support of a product. This early involvement
is intended to result in the design and production of a product on schedule
and within budget that is lower in cost, higher in quality, and more reliable
By getting people from functions other than just design engineering involved
early, this approach will result in a more complete understanding of all
the requirements (external customer requirements as well as internal departmental
requirements such as producibility); a broader, more balanced discussion
of issues and alternatives; and a consensus approach (see Consensus
Decision-Making) to designing both the product and its processes. The
team concept is intended to promote open discussion and innovative thinking
resulting in superior products, more efficient processes and, ultimately,
a more satisfied customer. The focus of the team will be to satisfy the
external customer's product and support requirements as well as the internal
customer (functional department) requirements related to factors such as
producibility, cost, supportability, testability, etc.
Although PDTs/IPTs will require more resources early in the development
process, the result will not only be superior designs, but reduced resources
over the life cycle of development to production through reduced design/build/test
iterations and less effort to correct initial design deficiencies through
the reviews and engineering changes. The early involvement of the affected
functional areas will lead to buy-in with the design of products and their
processes and result in a smoother transition to production.
A PDT/IPT is a team of people responsible for the design of a competitive
product and the related processes to manufacture and support that product.
The team consists of people from all disciplines that can positively impact
the development of the product and improve competitive factors, not just
personnel from the various design engineering disciplines.
Each PDT/IPT would be staffed as appropriate for the requirements of the
project and the composition of the membership may change over time. In addition
to formal team members, others in the organization may be called upon to
support the team's efforts. As the organization emphasizes early supplier
involvement, key suppliers may also participate in team activities either
as formal team members or to consult with the team as required.
The ideal team size will be eight to ten core team members (excluding personnel
that support the team efforts for relatively short periods or participate/consult
for a smaller percentage of their time). As team size increases, there is
more inertia in melding the team into an effective working group. In addition,
more effort is required to coordinate activities and schedule meetings with
a larger group of people. The number of interfaces or points of coordination
increases rapidly as the team size increases (=n[n-1]/2). Yet it is important
to balance this objective of a compact team with the need to obtain representation
from all the functional areas that can contribute to the design of a product
and its processes and improve the product's competitive factors.
It is important to define and understand the relationship of the team
and team members to the function organization and the product/program organization.
When a product development effort is undertaken, company management will
assign responsibility for this effort to a program manager or management
team. This individual or group is responsible for planning the project (budget
and schedule), acquiring or coordinating necessary project resources, providing
critical technical and business direction to the development effort, and
monitoring the performance of the development effort.
With a small project, the project/program manager may be a functional manager,
typically the engineering or R&D manager, director, or vice president.
With a larger development effort, the effort required to plan and manage
the project will require the full time involvement of a project/program
At the initiation of the development project, the program manager or management
team would develop a plan that indicated personnel required from each functional
department to support the development effort. This manpower plan would be
the basis for requesting personnel to be assigned to the project. Personnel
assignment could be full-time for the duration of the project, full-time
for a portion of the project, part-time for the duration of the project,
or part time for a short period of time.
If the development effort is significant and a large number of people are
assigned to the project, the product may be partitioned into modules or
subsystems with a separate team established for each module or subsystem.
This accomplishes two objectives. First, it allows work to proceed in parallel
on the product development effort, and, second, it allows a reasonable size
team to be set up for each module or subsystem. With multiple teams, there
is a need to provide technical coordination of the individual team efforts.
With a small number of teams, this coordination can be provided by the program
manager or management team and meetings among the team leaders. With a larger
number of teams, the coordination may be provided by a separate system integration
team reporting to the program manager or management team.
The responsibility and authority of the program manager and the functional
managers relative to managing the development project and team activities
need to be explicitly defined, otherwise there will be confusion and misunderstanding
that will affect the results of the team. This delineation is also important
as a basis for establishing appropriate performance objectives and preparing
performance appraisals for personnel involved in PDTs/IPTs.
When a team is formed, it is extremely valuable to collocate the team into
a project area. This physical proximity of the team members will provide
a number of benefits. It will allow interpersonal relationships to develop
more quickly leading to more effective and timely communication of information.
This proximity will provide a greater opportunity for feedback and discussion
of the design requirements and design issues. Collocation
facilitates better coordination and results in less demanding infrastructure
requirements (e.g., document distribution, meeting room requirements, local
area networks, workstation and software requirements, etc.). Finally, it
allows more rapid response to issues and enables processes and tasks to
A team leader needs to be appointed for each team. The team leader is not
the manager of the team, but can better be described as the chairman, facilitator,
or coach. This distinction is important for the team to effectively operate
in a balanced, self-directed way. The role and responsibilities of a team
leader are described in Team Leader Responsibilities.
In addition to organizing itself, one of the first steps for the PDT/IPT
is to obtain a thorough understanding of the task at hand. They need to
understand the project objectives, the specifications/customer requirements,
design targets, cost, and schedule. This information should be provided
to the team(s) by the program manager or management team, and the team(s)
must thoroughly review these requirements and raise any questions or issues
before they proceed. While the project goals will always be aggressive,
the team must "buy-in" to these goals.
As teams are formed, there is a need to recognize the interpersonal dynamics
that exist in an effort to make the team process effective. People assigned
to the PDT/IPT will represent a variety of personalities and styles. The
different perspectives that the people bring to the team can enhance its
vitality and creativity. However, team members need to have or develop a
basic orientation towards working in a team environment and toward group
Underlying the PDT's/IPTs tasks are interpersonal dynamics which can severely
affect the team's performance. Most people have spent the majority of their
career performing tasks as individuals with specific assignments outside
of a team or group structure. Many will never have participated in a team
or group other than serving on a committee - which is a very different concept.
It is important to recognize this fact and understand the barriers that
need to be overcome and the stages of growth in moving toward effective
team operation. PDTs/IPTs will typically go through four stages of development
in moving toward becoming productive groups: forming, storming, norming,
and finally performing. This interpersonal development process can take
Empowerment and Self Direction
Functional department managers should empower the people assigned to the
PDT to represent the department's interests as the individual serves on
the team. This implies that qualified people will be assigned to the team.
By empowerment, as the individual serving on the PDT is part of a consensus
decision on a design approach or issue, that individual is committing his
or her functional organization to support that design approach. Functional
department managers should avoid second-guessing or having to review every
action taken by their PDT/IPT members. However, functional department managers
can and should provide guidance and direction to the PDT/IPT members assigned
from their department as those team members seek this guidance.
Teams should be self-directed. This will maximize the contribution of the
team members. It provides a mechanism for balanced, consensus decision-making
without undue outside influence which might bias the result and without
second-guessing which disables the concept of empowerment. Empowerment and
self-direction lead to greater motivation, ownership and development of
each individual's capabilities.
The team concept is not without challenges. Many organizations are only
beginning to develop the experience to operate teams effectively. Functional
managers used to operating in a hierarchical organization can feel threatened
by self-directed teams that appear to work outside of their control.
Effective teams require a significant investment in training. This includes
team building training or
a team launch workshop, cross-functional training,
training in various integrated product development techniques such as DFM or QFD, and minimal technical
training to allow the non-technical members to effectively participate in
product and process design.
Performance measurement/appraisal systems and reward and incentive systems,
such as compensation adjustments, need to be re-oriented away from rewarding
individual achievement of departmental objectives and toward measuring and
rewarding team performance in achieving enterprise objectives. If this is
not addressed, it can undermine the effective operation of a team.
A positive culture oriented toward continuous improvement and team-based
approaches must created. Management must provide leadership and define the
required culture. Management needs to guide this move toward effective product
development teams by explicitly defining roles, and responsibilities of
team members, functional managers, and program managers.
Integrated product development concepts are not radically new and different.
In many ways, these practices reflect the smaller, less formal organization
of the past where people knew each other, communicated effectively between
the various functional departments, and coordinated their activities with
relatively little effort. However since technology has advanced and become
more complex, a return to the yesteryear is not feasible. Integrated product
development concepts represent a modern day approach to addressing the complexity
and technology associated with today's new product development.
The greatest challenges exist not in implementing new techniques, business
practices or technology, but in overcoming the organizational barriers and
the resistance to changing the way things are done. As new products and
speed to market become crucial in achieving competitive advantage, the use
of integrated product development concepts as a basis for new product development
will become essential.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kenneth A. Crow is President of DRM Associates,
a management consulting and education firm focusing on integrated product
development practices. He is a distinguished speaker and recognized expert
in the field of integrated product development. He has over twenty years
of experience consulting with major companies internationally in aerospace,
capital equipment, defense, high technology, medical equipment, and transportation
industries. He has provided guidance to executive management in formulating
a integrated product development program and reengineering the development
process as well as assisted product development teams applying IPD to specific
He has written papers, contributed to books, and given many presentations
and seminars for professional associations, conferences, and manufacturing
clients on integrated product development, design for manufacturability,
design to cost, product development teams, QFD, and team building. Among
many professional affiliations, he is past President and currently on the
Board of the Society of Concurrent Engineeringand is a member of the Product
Development Management Association and the Engineering Management Society.
For further information, contact the author at DRM Associates, 2613 Via
Olivera, Palos Verdes, CA 90274, telephone (310) 377-5569, fax (310) 377-1315,
or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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