There are two classes of tools to support product development: design tools and management tools as shown in the following diagram.
A lot of attention has been given to the design tools over the last two decades. Management tools have received less attention. Project management tools have the longest tradition of use. Product Data Management (also known as Product Information Management and Collaborative Product Commerce) tools have been on the scene since the late 80’s. Requirements Management tools are lessor known tools used to manage the requirements and specifications associated with complex products. More recently, a new class of tools has emerged to support managing the NPD process and serving as a repository for other documents that are not typically managed by a Product Data Management system.
Therefore, there are three primary tools that most companies wanting to achieve a mature and well-managed process and data will put in place. These tools, shown below, each other to a degree and will have logical interfaces.
While the functions of project management and product data management systems are well-known, NPD procss management tools are new to many people. These NPD process management tools typically provide the following functions:
The objective of these tools is to:
The Capability Maturity Model describes the stages of evolution in a process such as product development ranging from an ad-hoc and immature state to an optimized state. As companies strive to develop a more mature process, these tools can facilitate the objective of repeatability managed. This is required before the process can be optimized.
PD-Trak is an example of a low-cost, commercially-available NPD Process Management, Portfolio Management, and Pipeline Management tool.