One of the challenges most of manufacturing companies are facing these days is related to ability to introduce new product to the market. Think about manufacturers of electronic gadgets that can miss holidays sales or supplier that misses deliveries on new components for OEM manufacturer. The cost of missed timeline sometimes is so high that it cannot be recovered when you development is going off schedule. Therefore, New Product Introduction (NPI) is one of the important elements of PLM strategies for many companies. These type of solutions are provided by most of PLM vendors and usually part of their Program and Project Management portfolio. You can follow few links to see examples – Aras PLM NPI, Autodesk PLM360 NPI, ENOVIA NPI, Siemens PLM NPI. I’m sure you can Google “PLM NPI” and fine more.
What caught my attention is that all NPI / NPDI products and methodologies are focusing on organizing of waterfall stage-gate process to follow up in order to achieve product development goals. Typically you can see it as a sequence of Concept, Development, Testing, Launch. The details can vary as you can see in few pictures below, but the essence of NPI process is the same.
Aras / Infor
Autodesk PLM 360
It occurred to me that traditional PLM NPI is a bit outdated in a modern world of lean and agile product development methods. Agile product development is focusing on a series of short development cycles (sprints) and it became hugely popular and successful in software development of the past decade. It goes opposite to something that we familiar as waterfall process. You can read more by learning about Scrum, Kanban, XP. The ideas of agile and lean are coming to manufacturing too. Last year, I shared some of my thoughts about that in a blog – Who will make PLM for eXtreme Manufacturing?
Here is the thing… All PLM products are focusing on NPI and project management implementation actually thinking about traditional NPI model. They are mostly focused on a workflow and waterfall process. Waterfall processes are dying in a modern development world. At the same it is a mainstream organization large companies are using for product development. But… for how long? Large companies are looking how to innovate and to work differently. At the same time, they are providing very little support for teams that want to follow agile methodologies.
So, what is wrong with waterfall NPI process? Below, I put some of ideas why waterfall NPI process can give you very little help in development of innovative product together with customers.
1- I know what customer wants.
2- I know what features to build.
3- Too much focus on launch date and stage gates.
4- No trial, no errors process.
What is my conclusion? Customer agile development can be a new way for PLM to support manufacturing companies. It is can be more efficient to innovate in small teams. It can bring new agile methods and change product development process. It can replace existing NPI with complexity of waterfall processes. Just my thoughts…
Image courtesy of ArtJSan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net