Principles of Good Product Development

A bias for cycle time reduction

Customers' requirements and competitive pressures will result in the need for companies to decrease product development costs and overall product costs, reduce product development cycle time, and improve quality. This will have a major effect on business. Companies will be forced to organize themselves in such a way that high quality products can be developed very quickly in response to customer requirements.

In fast-evolving technological environments, products become obsolete sooner. The reduced time between product launch and product retirement erodes sales revenues. Since this phenomenon depends on factors beyond a company's control, the only way it can lengthen a product's life is to get it to the market earlier.

Bringing products to market quickly means that product offerings will be fresher and the latest technology can be included because less time passes between definition of the product and its arrival on the market. Less time in development means less labor and less cost. The company responds quicker to customers, gets more sales, and sets the pace of innovation.

A company which is good at developing new products can use this advantage to gain market share. While competitors are busy developing the same abilities, the leading company introduces new products and features faster, and also develops new abilities. When a competitor reaches its targeted level of competence, the leader is ready with a newly developed advantage and the competitor is again behind - spending money to build competence which does not provide the needed return on implementation, because the environment has changed.

The culmination of a good product development strategy is achievement of a position where products conform closely to validated customer requirements and exceed competitors products in features, cost, quality, and lead time. There is significant competitive value in shortening design and development lead time, as has been demonstrated by companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Chrysler. Short time to market for a new product permits a quick response to emerging customer requirements, and provides an opportunity to gather a bigger share of the market by being first.

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Page last modified on March 10, 2000
Copyright 2000 by John Stark