Successful products are ones that meet customer needs, are innovative and that offer value. Sounds simple! How do you make that happen? DRM Associates, a leading consulting organization specializing in product development, can help with the following six-step approach:
- Product strategy must be established that provides a framework for properly selecting markets and product ideas. Customers and potential customers are then identified. We would work with the executive team to assess markets, competition, competitive strengths, and product lines. We would map company position against competitors in various dimensions to provide insights and help develop strategy.
- Portfolio management & product screening process evaluates product concepts and marketplace needs against the product strategy objectives, profitability, risk, etc. We would help establish a portfolio management process, evaluation criteria, and a feasibility assessment process. For product ideas that meet screening criteria, we would help organize and conduct preliminary feasibility studies.
- Team & project organization are needed to initiate a project. We can help with this and provide team-building training as required.
- Customer needs data collection uses a variety of methods to gather the “voice of the customer”. Depending upon the nature of the product and the markets, these methods include: focus groups, customer meetings, surveys and market research, and product support feedback systems. We would help establish these systems and processes. We would help identify required data and areas of investigation and would develop interview or discussion guides as required. We would participate in and facilitate meetings and focus groups as required.
- Quality function deployment (QFD) training would be provided if development personnel lacked an understanding of this useful methodology. We believe QFD is an important tool to develop an understanding of customer needs among the product development team members and deploy the “voice of the customer” in a structured manner throughout the development process (see Customer Focused Development with QFD). We would conduct two- or three-day workshop which provides hands-on training using a series of exercises to develop practical skills in applying QFD.
- Product requirements facilitation is then provided to help guide development personnel through the process of product planning and requirements definition using traditional methods or QFD. Depending on the complexity of the product and the amount of data that was available, we would facilitate an initial QFD planning session that is typically several days in length. If data was lacking, we would assign tasks to obtain the needed information and schedule subsequent meetings as required. The QFD facilitation would be divided into planning phases that would occur over the course of the development cycle: 1.) product and subsystem planning and concept selection; 2.) assembly and part deployment; 3.) process planning; and 4.) process control and quality control planning.
We can assist with any one of these five steps to help your organization bring a customer focus into the product development process, improve customer value, better integrate the development process, and improve team communication and understanding.